Then, one day, I calmly quit. I realized that I had learned all the wrong lessons. Celeste Mountain isn’t literal — it’s a metaphor for overcoming the lies your brain tells you. I didn’t need the cliché triumphant moment, I just needed to sit down with the scary parts of myself and tell them to stop being so hard on my friend Emily. Me.
Michael Lutz: 20 paragraphs on Undertale: a critique
in all other arenas, Undertale insists that conflict arises from unwarranted fear and misunderstanding. it rewards you for pacifism and forging friendships. everyone, it wants to suggest, can get along only if we’re determined enough. and yet, the no-mercy run offers the exact obverse suggestion: radical evil exists, and it cannot be expunged. if we take Undertale at its word, however, and believe its conceit of multiple timelines manipulable by the game’s save and load functions, we find that the latter possibility is necessarily latent in the former. that is to say, chara happened; they are constant through all possible narratives, and they are still there, somewhere. the game’s sentimentality runs aground on the lack of mercy it allows the player to exercise, and the subsequent lack of mercy it extends to that player.
Michael Lutz: Is There a Community Outside This Text?
Kilduff-Taylor’s tired handwashing here is not so much an indictment of the problem of two interpretive communities — whose existence and cross-reference is facilitated by the internet as a mode of critical reception — as it is an attempt to escape the problem entirely. At some undesignated time before now, people just would have read the game correctly, no problem! Meaning would have been obvious, and interpretation would have been a pleasant exercise in riffing upon its verities from that point on. We’ve thus already lost, and all we can do is take solace in our own knowledge and interpretation as things fall apart.
This is disingenuous because the fact that anyone is even taking issue with the implication that Wreden should not be paid for his work is a sign that, indeed, people are not willing to let the patently worse interpretation of the game stand.