Undertale’s true “progressivism” is that it doesn’t really care

I often hear complaints about Undertale to the effect that it is a “progressive” or “Social Justice Warrior” game. A lot of people despise the game because of this, which I find pretty odd because, having actually played Undertale, it really doesn’t present itself as any such thing. And in fact, upon reflection, I think Undertale is most effective by not presenting itself as being amazing, radical or progressive, but rather humbly including characters that happen to be diverse.

Undertale…doesn’t care. And that’s a good thing, because it doesn’t care about things it shouldn’t have to care about. They’re just there. And maybe we should all care a little less.

Spoiler Alert: I won’t go into TOO much detail here, but it’s pretty impossible to talk about characters’ diversity without some minor spoilers. So if you haven’t played Undertale there could be some spoilers about. Watch your step.

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An Objective Undertale Review

(There are some very vague, very technical, very Objective™ spoilers for Undertale below. You probably won’t get the joke if you haven’t beaten Undertale at least once anyway.)

Undertale is a 122.52 MB single player game with “partial” controller support described as an “RPG Game”. The game is rendered at 640×480 pixels like a 30 year old CRT television though almost all ingame art is actually made at a resolution well below 480p. Most enemies are black and white in combat with extremely limited animation. The color pallette is similarly limited, probably 32 colors or less on most screens. The game only uses three buttons and arrow keys.

An objective sample of Undertale's art.
An objective sample of Undertale’s art.

The game has three endings. Two endings can be achieved at level 1, while the other ending requires more time grinding than playing the game. The “hardest” boss in the entire game has only 1 HP and their attacks can only deal 1 HP in return. The strongest equipment in the game is literally useless. Several fights cannot be lost.

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