I think I figured out why I was never especially invested in Undertale, despite everything pointing to it being an objectively good game. Not the Next Coming of Christ like some fans treat it as, but, you know, objectively very well-made.
It's all the meta shit.
Which is weird, you know? Metanarratives and how a narrative interacts with its audience is kind of my jam. I should be all about stories that try to explore that aspect to its fullest. And I am... in theory. Like I said, objectively Undertale is good and I appreciate what it does for people. But what it does for other people isn't what it does for me.
See, Undertale holds you, the audience, accountable. If you're playing a Dick Run, it'll call you, the player, out on it. If you kill everyone, it treats that as heinous as it is. This even crosses over into multiple playthroughs; the game remembers what you did in last saves, and it will never let you forget.
Except... well, I'm a writer, and these are fictional characters. I do worse to my own OCs on a daily basis.And every time the games pulls this meta "how dare you, the player," it only reminds me of that fact; that these are fictional characters in a fictional world, and I am actually doing nothing wrong but playing a game in a certain way. What should be an excellent tool for creating immersing and unsettling me only serves to annoy me. Like, fuck you, Sans, you're fake. I fake kill fake people all the time, you're no different because your script is done to emulate self-awareness.
Ironically, if Undertale weren't as meta (focusing on the actions of the player through the lens of the main character performing them instead of going for the player directly) I would have been more immersed. Hell, I'm a huge weenie about this sort of thing; if I make an action in a Bioware game and the other characters disapprove, I feel upset, even though they're judging my soulless husk of a player character and not me. But would it have been as objectively good and unique? Probably not. Would it have won the amount of critical and audience praise if it hadn't torn down the fourth wall and fucked with the players' minds the way it did? Definitely not. So it did the right thing and the thing that it as a narrative needed to do, it's just not for me.
This is one of those weird moments where I recognize something as objectively good but subjectively unappealing to me. It's weird to thing of something it the terms of "I don't like it but it's very good," but there you have it.
TL;DR Undertale is 2meta4me.