Undertale and Tragedy: How God used a Video Game to Punch me in the Face

Wow. God kicked my butt in prayer recently. (spoiler alert: major spoilers ahead for the video game Undertale)

Here’s how it all went down. It all started with me learning more about Undertale. Any sort of prayer time has some sort of “material” that you mull over and converse with God about, such as the Bible or a book by a saint. In my case, it ended up being a story in a video game.

I know a bunch of people who had great things to say about Undertale, so I started looking into it. And since I’m different than most people, I don’t mind spoilers at all. In fact, I like them, I like to know what’s going to happen next. I wanted to learn the whole story of Undertale even though I haven’t played the game.

You play as a child who falls into the realm of monsters, and after fighting each monster can spare them or kill them, with three major endings based on what you choose (the Neutral Run is the default, the Pacifist Run is where you not just spare every monster but befriend the major ones, and the Genocide Run is where you kill every monster you can, from the random encounters to all the major characters).

There’s a great summary of the game and how dialogue changes based on what you do here. The game even remembers your past choices, some characters know of your mystical abilities to time travel by Save and Reload.

The Genocide Run

And if a player opts for the Genocide Run, the game starts to get creepier, the music slows down, and it’s clear that you (the player) are becoming the monster. One discussion I ran into online was, “What’s the most difficult part of a Genocide Run?” I expected people to talk about how certain bosses are harder to beat, but instead they talked about how hard it is to be so heartless in killing all the characters.

One in particular, a skeleton named Papyrus, notices your intent to kill and chooses to spare you. Even as he dies, he encourages you and believes you can be better. Players said that was one of the hardest parts of the run, he’s such a positive guy.

So all of that is floating around in my head. This ends up being a big part of the material for prayer when God punched me in the face.

“Each one could have been someone else’s Toriel”

After the player falls into the world of monsters, one named Toriel becomes your protector and cares for you. The link from earlier explains how it goes to show how much Toriel cares and the game can get you to care about her.

If the player chooses to kill the random-encounter monsters but spare Toriel, the following conversation happens as one of the game’s antagonists mocks the player’s choices:

“You spared the life of a single person.

[names off the monsters you killed]

Think about those names.

Do you think any of those monsters had families?

Do you think any of those monsters had friends?

Each one could have been someone else’s Toriel.

Selfish brat.

Somebody is dead because of you.”

 

Whoa. Not your usual game where “let me fly off the rails and kill everyone” goes off without a hitch. The monstrosity of a Genocide Run is starting to hit me.

And then I think back to how killing Papyrus is one of the toughest parts of a Genocide Run. And then I think of Sans, his brother (also a skeleton), standing there after it happened. What was he thinking? What was he feeling? “Do you think any of those monsters had families?’ came the taunt, now much more real.

And there’s Sans just staring at his brother’s red scarf, all that’s left of him.

“Each one could have been someone else’s Toriel.” The immensity of that statement is becoming more real.

So that’s the state of my brain as I enter the chapel.

Video games vs. real life

As I get to prayer, I know it’s important to tell God what’s on my mind, and at that moment in time, I was sad because Sans lost his brother Papyrus in a video game, and sad for the other monsters in a Genocide Run. Not the greatest thing to be on my mind, but at least I was honest.

 

Here’s how my thoughts went:

I’m more sad for video game characters than real life tragedies.

Huh. That’s not how sadness is supposed to work.

I should be more sad about things that matter, and I’m not.

Right.

But I don’t think I could handle the immensity of real-life suffering.

The recent shooting? Too much. I can’t handle that.

I can’t handle that depth of emotion.

I’m sad for Sans losing his brother in a video game.

Yeah.

But what all those who died?

Over 50 people.

They had siblings too.

“Each one could have been someone else’s Toriel.”

Over 50 Toriels.

No.

Too much.

Too immense.

So from that place of realizing I’m not grieving for what matters, God started to lead me to learning something about Himself. The more you care about someone, the more you’re affected. A stranger being murdered is one thing, an acquaintance more, a close friend or family member or child much more. The more you care, the more you mourn.

God loves us far more than we love each other, and far more than we love ourselves. So if we weep and mourn for tragedies, how much more does God weep? How much more He cares for all those who lose their lives in senseless acts of violence every day.

I asked God to help me weep when He weeps, to “break my heart for what breaks Yours” as the song lyrics say, to see others as He sees them, with immensity of love in the face of immense tragedy and misery.

All because I was honest with Him in prayer about what I was thinking and feeling. He used it to punch me in the face. It was seriously one of the best prayer times I’ve had in a while.

 

And for those who recently lost their lives, and those who do every day in tragedies around the world:

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. May perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

 

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2 thoughts on “Undertale and Tragedy: How God used a Video Game to Punch me in the Face

    • Pacifist. Not only is it the “true end”, I just don’t have the heart to do a Genocide run. Which I think is the entire point of Undertale, your actions have actual emotional consequences to you, you feel like a horrible person.