Close Playing Undertale

At the beginning of Undertale the first creature you encounter is Flowey, the evil flower. He is the first thing to harm you by offering you a dose of, “friendliness pellets”. Throughout the whole conversation with him there are not only hints to the fact that he wants to harm you, but also hints towards later events in the game. The clip starts in an open room with Flowey encircled by light. He is the one bright spot in the room other than the players form, and is in the middle of a target, or bullseye. This foreshadows the upcoming fight between the player and the flower. He then rips the characters heart out and confines it in a box, and arrows flash to sow the player that the heart can move around. LV is used to make the player think that there are levels in the game, as well as HP or hit points. This familiarity lures the player into the familiar fighting mechanics found in other games, but the hit points bar shows them to be warry. The word SOUL is all caps as well as the word LOVE. This is a hint towards those two words being acronyms, and it is reinforced by Flowey saying, “You want some LOVE, don’t you?” while smiling. This along with the previous mocking language hints that the player might not actually want to gather LOVE. Flowey continues by offering to share his love, and makes a winking tongue face, which is the emoji for “I’m kidding” or “Don’t believe me”. As Flowey says the words “friendliness pellets”-emphasis on the quotation marks – his smile grows wider and lines appear under his eyes, his eyebrows also appear, and he looks towards the right side of the screen. He is breaking eye contact with the player for the first time, which is a sign that in this moment he is lying. The wider smile and eyebrows show that he is enjoying telling the player a lie, instead of regretting his actions, foreshadowing his intentions. These eyebrows quickly disappear when he orders the player to grab the pellets, and just as quickly reappear when the first pellet is touched. Instantly the players health goes down to 1, and the text coming out of Flowey’s mouth starts moving around. He first mocks the player before making a face where he tries to control his laughter, before breaking into full laughter as he goes in for the kill.

Even without sound the buildup of Flowey’s laughter can still be seen. The false friendliness at the beginning of the video is barely held onto and starts disappearing as soon as Flowey makes the tongue face. He feels that he has put one over on the player by blatantly telling them that he is joking about helping them in the middle of a scene that has been set up as a fight and starts to lose his control. The quotations around friendliness pellets and the slow reveal of the words show him taking his time, and the look away is him trying to regain control over himself and maintain his friendly face. Leaving the player at one hitpoint is Flowey pulling his punch. He wants the player to feel the anticipation that he feels as he is holding back. The moving words are a physical representation of his chuckling which he has started letting go, and slowly grows more erratic as he keeps talking. Just before Flowey says Die he reveals his power as he encircles the player, and it is then that he stops laughing, because he wants to draw out a last bit of tension before going for the kill. After he releases it, he allows himself to fully laugh as the player waits for their doom.

The subtle emotions and mannerisms of Flowey hint throughout that this is a game for him, that the player is a toy for him. He wants the player to not trust him but also not be too scared and enjoys causing fear by quickly going from safety to danger. When he fails to kill you and all the pellets disappear, his surprise comes from sudden loss of the control he has shown. The tension is released without warning, and for a moment Flowey’s face is the same as what most people’s faces would be after being attacked by an evil flower. Shock. I think that this moment is the most important because it shows what the scene is supposed to make people feel coming in. New players are like Flowey. They come in with knowledge about other games of this style and an idea about how this one should work. They see the battle and start laughing, thinking they have put one over on the game. They have the control, they are ready. They think just kidding about being friendly to an idiot flower, thinking that they will easily kill it until their pride undoes them and they are thrown for a loop. The cruelty of Flowey and his punishment for it are a lesson for new players, you play this game with that mindset and you will lose.

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