Who is the real monster? – Undertale

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Undertale, the game where every decision is taken seriously.

The game in whichever scenario you make a choice, that choice stays forever recorded in a reset.

Even the true ending is determined by the way how and in which order you play certain routes.

And the player’s name can change in accord to that either becoming Chara or Frisk.

A world the human child reaches due to falling down a mountain and landing in midst of flowers, a place called the Underground, the inhabitants that every player automatically perceives and calls Monsters.

Monster is a heavy term, yet without even realizing it the player who is a visitor and stranger in that world  goes around calling their inhabitants monsters.

The first question that someone should pose when looking outside of the box instead of simply playing the game: Why would someone call them monsters?

In the first place wouldn’t it be the other way around as someone who invaded the usual life of many folks living in the underground be rather the creature with the name monster?

In today’s blogpost we will discuss the amazing mind game of Undertale in which the real question of the game should make you think: Who is the real monster?

History of war

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In the game’s lore that is shown in the beginning before the player chooses to either continue a game or reset, it tells us that humans and the so-called monsters used to live peacefully together until a war started.

The humans won the long and severe war, following that human wizards sealed off the monsters underground and put a barrier on.

With that anybody could get in but not out of the barrier, causing the monsters to forcefully establish a life in the underground.

After a long time a kingdom resulted in that which the current king Asgore leads.

Now in the present time as we the players become the human child that falls into the underground.

The first one the human child encounters is flowey the flower which is known as one of the main antagonists of the game.

While Flowey obviously has bad intentions towards the player trying to kill the human off the first thing arriving.

As Flowey is the only exception as he has no clear motive in the eyes of the player, every other “monster” has a reason to fight the human since the history between monsters and humans has been bad in the first place.

The monster even were sealed off and forced to live underground with no sunlight or usual plants as known on the surface, despite humans winning the war there was no proven necessity to seal them off which could seem as an arrogant, egoistic and dangerous trait in humans.

Like our parents or teachers tell us how dangerous some animals are and they are a threat due to past events that happened, in the eyes of the monsters it’s the same as they are taught from a young age that humans are dangerous and will not hesitate to kill or hurt them.

Being sealed off underground and even then a human comes in and infiltrates the new life they had established there is just frightening which makes sense that people like Undyne or Papyrus try to defend many areas from humans mingling into the lives of other kid monsters or civilians.

Mother figure Toriel 

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The quite opposite that we see as we think of monsters is the caring figure that saves the human child from Flowey and brings them to her home  as she promises to take care of them.

Toriel who obviously is not keen on aggressive behaviour, tries to teach the child how to interact with the monsters as she uses a dummy at first.

If the player chooses to fight the dummy Toriel is not happy about the outcome and even slightly upset, scolding the child that it’s not what she was expecting.

On the other hand if the player chooses to talk or use mercy on the dummy, she will praise the child and continue.

But Toriel will suddenly shift her behaviour if asked about the way out and leaving her home, as she knows what had happened to the other children and wanted to prevent the current human to arrive at Asgore’s castle or even the other side of the door beyond the ruins.

She becomes so overprotective that she intimidates the human when they try to reach the door that takes them to Snowdin.

It goes even further as Toriel decides to stop the human with her magic and it’s the first real boss fight in that game.

Now the player has two choices, either endure the fight until mercy is possible which will make Toriel sad and let the human through with a saddening heart.

She cannot overcome the fear and sadness that the human might get hurt or even killed, but at the same time she knows that she cannot keep the human locked down forever.

Toriel wants to take the mother role of the child as she used to have a son herself and another child that fell to the underground which adopted, she sees it as her responsibility to guide and help that child.

Are those traits of a monster?

Surely not, since Toriel is more family than a monster let alone that she saved the human from the first threat Flowey.

But there is more to it.

If the child chooses to fight and kill Toriel to the very end, the eerily feeling the player gets from the dialogues let’s one think about the real values of morale presented.

The first thing Toriel says when the human kills her is , “You… really hate me that much?”, indicating that only someone with immense hate could kill off so easily.

Which means that Toriel didn’t consider the fact the human was able to go to such an extent to leave that place as she tried to protect the child.

It also indicates that she expected the child to hate her in some way for making them stay in the ruins against their will but she simply thought it could have been due to the ignorance of the child not knowing what hardships they had to go through once they are outside.

The following sentence actually hits hard when considering that Toriel actually wanted to protect the child but it concluded that meanwhile she thought she was protecting the child she was actually protecting everyone else beside the child by blocking the way as she said, “Now I see who I was protecting by keeping you here.”

“Not you…but them”, are the last words followed by her sad laughter as she vanishes and dies.

Is someone who tried to protect the child a monster in both scenarios or rather the one who kills the one protecting both specimens?

Surely Toriel was a good character in both scenarios as she only wanted everyone to live peacefully and not cause any more deaths as there was in the past when she used to be queen.

Of course there are many other fights in which decisions are important but Toriel is one of the most good-natured out of them as she does not seek any reward or reputation by fighting the human.

Like a mother she cared and wanted the best for her child even if it didn’t make sense for the human in the first place.

Mercy vs Merciless

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We already established that in the world the human child falls into is one where every choice is remembered.

The choice matters, whether you become a merciless killer or a lovely pacifist maybe even something in-between.

Let’s start with the first two big routes that are known as the genocide run and the pacifist run.

In both routes the player does make extreme choices that either involve only fighting or only showing mercy and not deriving from that path throughout the whole game.

The neutral route represents a mix in which one chooses both option depending on the situation as they can kill some enemies or leave them be, but to get the actual pacifist or genocide route the player needs to stay consistent in their choices.

Which means if you kill, kill them all throughout the game with no one left.

Or choose to not hurt anyone in the process and don’t kill anyone even the smaller mob characters which seem to have no relevance towards the route.

Now with the main aspects of the game routes let’s dive into the analysis of the pacifist route.

The cue here is mercy– because there is no other way to get through that route than enduring the fight and be merciful towards the hostile monsters.

Remember why they were hostile in the first place?

Right, right, humans killing their kind and sealing them off underground forcing them to live a life full of misery before they established a kingdom.

As the player reaches Snowdin that fact is easily seen when visiting the library as there are many books describing those horrible creatures called humans – in their eyes – monsters.

But what is the whole reason to do a pacifist run?

In a world where everyone sees you as a merciless killer only by books and history, the first thing you don’t want to do is give them a reason to believe that.

No matter how much they would hate you they would have no proof or evidence against you and in other cases maybe change even their prejudice about humans if they see a human being capable of dealing with their kind in a peaceful way.

Since the player doesn’t kill anyone it results into a journey where friendships are made and many more decisions of interactions between smaller characters like Napstablook as well as bigger ones like Papyrus or Alphys.

In the end there will still be Asgore who also killed many children who had reached the underground and tried to kill the player as well, due to the relations the human mended Asgore will be stopped before he can fight the child.

The human has to defeat omega flowey at least once and it results in the true pacifist end in which all leave the underground.

The player will see a change in name as the name from now on will be Frisk.

This may not be much interesting for the question Who is the real monster?

Since in the end Flowey turns out to be the manifestation of Asriel’s lost soul only deprived of emotions and memories, even the main antagonist is not a monster but a victim of an experiment.

In the end the pacifist end results in no real monster as the friendship between the two specimens is possible and even helped them to remove the barrier.

Now the more interesting routes are the neutral and especially the genocide route.

As in the neutral route the player does a mix of both, sparing and killing it can be seen as a defense mechanism if the player chooses to kill someone.

Especially many people make the mistake to kill Toriel since they do not know how to overcome her anyway- which is a bit… irritating.

While usually in games it doesn’t matter and monsters are supposed to be killed mercilessly, killing Toriel which seems only natural considering her being one of the bosses seems completely wrong.

Even the dialogue indicates that the player truly made a wrong decision if one can say so, proving the point that humans indeed are what the underground folks learned about them.

If the player chooses to reset the game right after killing Toriel by mistake, Flowey will indicate the mistake made by telling the player they are clever and think they could spare a single life.

“I know what you did”, will follow after grinning widely which can be unsettling seeing it the first time, as even when killing by mistake or not the killing will not be justified or undone in save datas just like in real life.

As it goes on, Flowey will tell the player, “You murdered her”, to emphasize the huge deed that one tried to cover by restarting the game.

“And then you went back because you regretted it”, can be viewed as an accusation of not thinking the action through until it was too late.

The dialogue ends with Flowey comparing the player to himself as he used to save and restart as well, using that power but the player’s power overrode his and that he will keep watching.

This dialogue takes place if one resets after the first kill and not even a genocide run, the fact that Flowey who doesn’t stand the human since their arrival is comparing himself to them means that there is potential of becoming like Flowey.

As we get to know that Flowey is indeed someone seen as a monster in all other routes beside the Pacifist one, being compared to him… is an indirect sign of the player already turning into one.

Because worse than killing someone, they tried to cover it and deceive everybody by restarting thinking they did something well or spared a life, this is just a game in the end.

That mentality won’t work in Undertale.

The neutral route has many interesting dialogues if the player chooses to kill different people each route but the outcome of those dialogues is never a nice one, since they all result in a sad ending in which that character didn’t exist anymore.

In the neutral route the player will be seen as a monster by those people who lost someone precious.

For example one of the endings where the human goes back (neutral ending) yet still is viewed as a monster by others is when you spare everyone else but Papyrus.

Sans will give you a small resume of what happened as Toriel who went back on the throne after Asgore was gone, got overthrown by Undyne whose hate for humans started a Rebellion. Humans who should have been viewed as friends in Toriel’s new policy turned into the one who killed Undyne’s precious underling and friend.

Sans ends the call telling the player he couldn’t tell Toriel what the player did to Papyrus since she protected the human and it would indicate it was her fault, as he surely holds a grudge against the player telling them to never come back as they are not welcome, leaving them with a heavy burden that was caused by Papyrus death.

Now to the most interesting part genocide run.

The run even has a counter of how many monsters you need to kill in red font to stay in the run, the whole atmosphere changes into eerily slower versions of the soundtracks playing in the background and dialogues as well as characters not being present anymore.

After killing all monsters in the area, there is only one text left when there is nothing to kill anymore “but nobody came.”

Playing the genocide route after the pacifist one gives a whole different vibe.

Even the dialogues of the human child change when they interact with objects showing a much more heartless and manic side.

Now does it make you a monster to kill them all?

…it sure does.

When you fight Undyne and she transforms she is given the name true hero.

Meaning that on the other side of the screen there must be a monster waiting for the hero to defeat.

Even the cheers and motivation represented towards Undyne is irritating as usually the player is the one getting those and playing the hero who needs to defeat the monsters.

But being on the monster side surely feels different, worse is that there is no indication of justifying the decisions made since the human child itself comments through thoughts or decisions they derived far away from the path.

“In my way…”, when seeing a kid.

Or “about time”, when picking up a knife right before the fight against Sans.

Sans in the first place shows the player that he is watching their actions with a warning after crossing the bridge to Snowdin, but before reaching Asgore Sans judges and makes sure the player won’t ever come back with an intense and long fight.

The dialogue said by Sans during that fight indicates the immense grudge against the child.

“Dirty brother killer”, he even counts the times the player loses up to ten but after that he says they are too many to count and not letting loose.

“You should be burning in hell” or “do you feel your sins crawling up your back?”, are all sentences Sans tells the player, as it seems they are not aware of the actual consequences until Sans makes their life a literal hell by forcing the player either to reset the game due to the hard challenge or keep playing until finally being able to dodge his attack and land a hit.

In the middle of the fight Sans even tries to deceive the player to use mercy on him telling them they used to be such good friends or they could have been good buddies(if not played the pacifist route before).

If the Player chooses mercy at that point Sans will tell them to hug him and he pierces the child with his attacks, indicating that if they are really sorry they shouldn’t come back and that they player killed his brother so “get dunked on.”

Being merciless to the end will bring no mercy to oneself.

Flowey as well tells the player to stop at some point since even he thinks they are creepy, scary and going overboard. 

He tells the player the story of how he as well started due to curiosity but it ended with him becoming like that and not caring for anyone else as killing people became a matter at hand or even an annoying task to see how the scenarios would change just like a game.

In the first place Flowey stuck to the player in order to benefit from them and see the progress but got crushed as well unexpected that the player turned out even worse than expected.

After managing to get past Sans and kill Asgore in an instant another human child appears on the screen, Chara as it’s the name chosen by the player in the beginning.

Unlike in the pacifist route the player keeps their name until the end.

Chara who is almost identical to the human child but wears a green sweater and smiles instead of the nonchalant expression, will start to explain how they both are the monster when people call their name and it doesn’t matter when or where.

With the help of the player they can eradicate the world.

If they give up their soul to Chara, which they need to do in the end no matter what decision they take.

If writing Chara as a name afterward in the name input it will say the real name.

Now who is the real monster?

  • Makii

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