Before I begin, I want to do my due diligence and say There Are SPOILERS Ahead. Undertale is a game where you’d want to experience first before reading about it. Trust me on this. CAREFUL, SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven’t played the game, or watched a playthrough, then I suggest the former over the ladder, but sometimes the ladder will have to do. So, let’s get this started.
I’ve been swept up in the Undertale craze and love it to bits. The characters, the story, how you can play the entire game and not need to kill anyone or anything, though some character’s try you on this. It’s the kind of game we need more of. There are a few problems though, mainly with story due to things being cut out, or vaguely explained (which I attribute to Toby letting us interpret the story how we want). Where there are gaps in the story, I tend to try and make connections. One character in particular, I have some questions and thoughts on. These are my theories and interpretation of Undertale.
Is Flowey the bad guy? It’s the antagonist definitely, but was Flowey really trying to hurt or rule Underworld and the surface?
To give a quick recap of who Flowey is, it’s a golden flower, the first to grow in Underworld. It was the king’s favorite flower. When Asriel died, his ashes fell upon this flower. Alphys, the kingdom’s scientist, was conducting experiments on a power called ‘Determination’. She was able to extract this from a human soul the kingdom had and used it on the golden flower. This gave a flower the will to live and become Flowey. This is how I understand it so far.
So what’s Flowey’s motivation? What is its end goal?
During the neutral ending fight, Flowey reveals that it needs a seventh soul to become god, and then show monsters and humans the real meaning of this world; It’s kill or be killed.
Is that Flowey’s end goal though? To me, it looked like it just took advantage of the situation. Before the protagonist showed up, Flowey had full power over saving, reloading and restarting. However, Flowey had trouble with two characters; Asgore and Sans. Sans caused his fair share of resets, and he could never get past the king. Since Sans is the hardest fight, it’s safe to say he never could get past Sans as well. So that pretty much means Flowey could do whatever it wanted minus leaving Underworld.
So, what did Flowey do? I can only assume that it experienced a literal sense of the movie Groundhog Day. Wiki link in case you haven’t seen the movie.
It’s unsure if this power affects the surface. My assumption is that it does. My proof is that after you finish the game under any ending and escape Underworld, you can still reset back to when you first entered. I guess it can be argued that you re-enter Underworld first and then reset, but then how would all the monsters get put back after the pacifist ending?
Spring boarding from that, I’m assuming that Flowey grew tired and gave up trying to leave Underworld. Instead, he just lazed about and talked with Papyrus, causing no trouble. This time, Flowey let the timeline go so long that the protagonist finally showed up, carrying in them more determination than Flowey. This higher concentration of determination overruled Flowey’s ability to save, load and reset.
When the protagonist showed up, Flowey tried to take your soul by tricking you into getting hit by its attack. Why did it do this? Because I believe Flowey’s end game is to just leave Underworld. Flowey had no motivation to destroy, to help, or do anything. Flowey is just an inanimate object given the will to live, and like any living creature, wants to be free. The way Flowey does this is with the only thing it knows; It’s kill or be killed.
So, is Flowey the bad guy in Undertale? My interpretation is no. The antagonist with an unfiltered view on life, sure, but not the bad guy.
Then who is the bad guy in Undertale? You can argue it’s Chara, but then who is Chara but just a manifestation of old RPG tropes about getting higher levels, stronger weapons and more gold. That would imply we’re the bad guy… but we are the hero here, right?
Undertale is a game that puts into question old tropes and tries to break you of the bonds of traditional RPG rules and storytelling. A game can be more than just mindless killing and one dimensional NPC’s that repeat the same line over and over again in a never changing world. The game breaks the fourth wall in order to free you of expectations.
From my look at the game, there are no good guys and bad guys. None of the characters are black and white… well, in battle they can seem that way, but when you talk to them and look at their actions and motivations, they are a shade of gray. Even you. I’m not even sure when monsters attack you that it’s an act of aggression, or just a misunderstanding. When you hug a volcano, it can’t help that the lava burns you. When a dog is jumping for attention, they can’t help that their size can be harmful to a human.
Flowey is an interesting character in Undertale. It’s linked to a tragic character, and one of the darkest periods of Undertale’s history. I’ll continue my thoughts about Flowey in my next post.