Visceral Gaming: The Impact of Undertale

Undertale Cover


When they were creating the game Portal, the developers wanted to create an intuitive learning environment. They wanted players to learn through gameplay rather than exposition or tutorial menus. Each level was built with this progression in mind, allowing the player to increase their understanding and application of the portal gun. The base concepts naturally flowed into greater complexity as the game continued to challenge you to think deeper about the puzzles and mechanics.

The Tutorial

I think a good number of people who analyze video games fail to take into account the value of the first experience a person has playing the game. In some regard it is because it often doesn’t matter. In theory, knowing the story or mechanics behind a game doesn’t fundamentally change it. However, it can sometimes have some enormous significance, especially if the game is very well designed and aimed at being an interactive video game.

This Game is Something More

After Flowey kills Asgore, he then shuts down your game. It effectively feels like your game crashes. You think maybe you did something wrong, so you boot it back up to try again. However, you don’t get the usual menu. You’re loaded directly into gameplay. So you walk forward and there is a save point. You click on it and it is your save file. Then something smashes against it and shatters it. Flowey reappears and taunts you, thanking you for unlocking the power of the human souls for him to use.

Then We killed Everyone: The No Mercy Run

A surprising thing for me when reviewing other people’s takes on this game was how often the No Mercy Run was disregarded, glossed over, or otherwise a small part of the larger review. One reviewer, I recall, even said they planned to talk a great deal about it when starting to make their video, but felt like it didn’t matter once they actually finished. The Architect only dives in enough to share that you’re not suppose to play it and it goes against the true meaning of the game.

San’s thinks your time will be bad if you continue
Monster Kid in Combat
Red 9s Across Screen

The Effort of Happiness

The No Mercy Run is largely the RPG power fantasy where you kill shit to level up, the Pacifist run is the opposite of this. You stay as weak as you started the game and you must go through the entire game without ever gaining any execution points. In this game you are at the mercy of the monsters you encounter.

The Final Curtain

I know a lot of gamers are very good at compartmentalization, specifically separating video games from reality. It’s also true that playing violent video games will not make someone more violent or prone to violence. We can separate real from fiction in this regard with ease. Even as I talk about lasting consequence there is still the option of uninstalling or playing around with files to erase misdeeds.

Picture of carnival, annoying dog



I write essays on literature, pop culture, and video games. I mostly deconstruct and do comparative analysis on many topics in both a serious and goofy way.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Faye Seidler

Faye Seidler

I write essays on literature, pop culture, and video games. I mostly deconstruct and do comparative analysis on many topics in both a serious and goofy way.