So, per the suggestion of many reviews, friends, and YouTube Gamers, I finally got my hands on Undertale and I’m enjoying the trip. It’s easy to see why it’s indie gaming gold; it’s a story of hope and determination where every choice you make has weight and there’s no wrong way to play it. You can even go through the whole thing without raising your weapon once and relying on judicious diplomacy and kind gestures if you’re a dedicated nice guy.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a memorable game without some emotional moments. Moments that I’d like to talk about at great length, but if it’s one thing that all the hype around Undertale has taught us, it’s that it’s best experienced coming in fresh. So, I’m only going to spoil ONE aspect of ONE of the story’s paths in order to talk about the game’s most adorable couple.
A good chunk of the story is dedicated to two characters – Undyne; the fish-like head of the Royal Guard who pursues you initially, and Dr. Alphys; a reptilian scientist studying the very nature of what the game refers to as SOULs.
As the game progress (provided you don’t stray from the pacifistic route and kill either of them, you monster), you learn that the two are very close friends and that Alphys has deep affections for Undyne that she fears are unrequited. However, play your cards right, and you’ll see these two finally admit their love for each other and go on their first date.
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t any meaningful LGBT characters in gaming; it’s just that they don’t seem to carry as much gravitas. Transgender characters like Birdo and Vivian exist in the Mario games but offer very little other than simply acknowledging they exist. And if they do offer something more, it’s often lost in western translation.
I once dedicated nearly a third of an article to gay and bisexual characters in Borderlands 2, but while they may have been intentionally written that way, there’s the nagging feeling that such commentary on LGBT rights might have only come about due to time and budget constraints preventing the unique character interactions based on gender.
Undyne and Alphys don’t have such concerns surrounding them. They are a legit lesbian couple and their relationship is treated just like any other romance.
There are several other aspects that make this relationship beautiful. For one, it’s easy to forget that neither of these two fit the standard definitions of beauty. Undyne is an intimidating, muscular, almost amazonian woman with a face like Lord Voldemort had sex with a disgruntled great white shark. Meanwhile, Alphys is short, timid, overweight, and suffers from a noticeable overbite. This, along with their monster-like qualities, makes it much harder to sexualize their relationship (not that the internet hasn’t tried) and brings their romance to the forefront.
What’s more, there’s a darker story that fuels their passion. Alphys’ SOUL experiments have led to the unintentional creation of many nasty characters in the game leaving her filled with guilt. It’s even suggested that she might be suicidally depressed by her failures. You quickly start to realize that someone like Undyne gives her something to keep working for and saves her from her spirit-crushing sadness; She’s LITERALLY her knight in shining armor.
Undyne and Alphys have one of, if not the most beautiful love story in gaming history and their existence is a sign that the medium is still moving forward. Here’s hoping for a sequel where they hand out the wedding invites.