Because my friends and I got talking about this and I still can’t get over how amazing this route is.
The Genocide Route completes Undertale; without its presence, an extraordinary amount of Undertale lore, world building, character information, emotional impact, and narrative is lost. The Genocide Route provides a powerful counterbalance to the hopeful story of the Pacifist Route, and in doing so, makes both the TP ending more emotionally poignant, and provides more shock and power to the presence of the Genocide Route itself. Without the Genocide Route, so much is lost.
An important, ongoing theme and moral of Undertale is the power of mercy and forgiveness. The presence of the Genocide Route, and what happens in the void of mercy, makes this message all the more stark and real.
The Genocide Route is unique in that it is a story with no happy ending for anybody. We are accustomed to seeing characters fighting back at the brink of the worst, and being able to make some saving action before all is lost. But this doesn’t happen. Because we as the player are the person enacting a genocide, we ensure that these monsters never get a chance. All the monster characters who fight so, so, so hard for their freedom and survival… are defeated. THEN, even we are denied a good victory. In stories, we are accustomed to at least the anti-heroes gaining some sort of win.
But in the Genocide Route, the human and Flowey who seek to kill everyone are themselves lost. Our character gets their SOUL taken over by Chara in the end… there is no win. There is no win, and that’s very unique in story.
The Genocide Route is a bizarre psychological experience in which the game characters correctly make observations about how you, the player, feel. Sans describes, in the Final Corridor, that, “LOVE,
too, is an acronym. It stands
for “Level of Violence.” A way of
measuring someone’s capacity to hurt. The more you
kill, the easier it becomes to distance yourself. The more you
distance yourself, the less you will hurt. The more
easily you can bring yourself to hurt others.” While I was an individual who cried heavily the first four times I finished the Pacifist Ending, and while I thought I would be bawling all the more in the Genocide Route, I noticed the most creepy thing happening… I was becoming emotionally distant. The more I killed, the more callous I felt, and the more I looked eagerly for the next monster to kill. By the time I got to Sans’ fight, I was in euphoria, and enjoyed every second of the eight hours it took me to beat him. Despite Sans being my favorite character, and who gives me a lot of feels when I think about him, I screamed “YES! FUCK YES!” at the top of my lungs when I killed him for the first time. Only several days after I completed the Genocide Route for the first time did it emotionally hit me what had happened and what I had put the characters through. This sort of strange emotional distancing, which the characters remark upon themselves, is a wildly fascinating, worthwhile, illuminating, and somewhat disconcerting thing to experience because of what it speaks to our actions and our conscience.
It’s also really good commentary on how LV and EXP are earned in a typical RPG. I know the Pacifist Route does this, too, but the Genocide Route takes this a completely different and just as memorable route.
A lot of speculation within fandoms arise about what would occur if the story proceeds otherwise. If it is a happy story, people like to wonder about sad AUs; if it is a sad story, people will headcanon happy AUs. The presence of Pacifist and Genocide Routes provide us canon knowledge of how the characters react in the best and worst of times, giving us deep insight into their characters and fulfilling us emotionally with stories going both directions.
The Genocide Route provides the Greatest Epic Heroic Showdowns ever. While the boss fights in the Neutral and Pacifist Routes are fun and memorable, it is here in the Genocide that we see the truest, purest, most determined, and most dramatic heroism take place. It is here we see Papyrus do his daring, jaw-dropping stance of offering the human mercy despite their dangers. It is here we see Undyne prevent herself from freaking dying to fight you all-out in an astonishing whirlwind of magic spears. It is here that Sans finally draws a line and pulls out the Gaster blasters in an emotional showdown where the existence of the underground is at stake. It is here he knows that he’ll be here fighting you in timeline after timeline after timeline… and that, despite this infinity, he’s still going to try to stop you in all of them. Talk about holy whoa. These moments are mindblowingly awesome showdowns and so, so, so emotional and cool. We get to see some of our faves be OUTSTANDINGLY awesome in a very real, believable, apocalyptic setting.
Maybe this is just me, but the Genocide Route is, in its own bizarre way, comforting, because it shows the heroicism and merit to characters standing up in the darkest of times. I know things don’t end well for the characters, but their resolution and boldness is inspiring and makes me feel better and more empowered about the challenges in my own life.
We learn so much about the characters. Flowey’s dialogue in New Home gives us extensive information about Flowey in the past. In the abort of the Genocide right before the ending, we see Alphys become the very hero of the underground, the person who saves the monsters from extinction, who rises up to the challenge, admits to her wrongs, saves her people, and becomes their ruler. We see Alphys speak out to a shocking dark side - saying she should have killed you when she had the chance. We gain valuable hints about Sans’ backstory, see a curious if vague connection of him to Gaster, and learn - with shock - what happens if you actually fight him. We learn what happens when he stands up because he can’t afford not to care anymore. These character revelations give us amazing moments and a lot more in-depth understanding to who they are… or fodder for thought about who they might be.
Our fandom dialogue about Chara would be compleeeeeetely different if not for the Genocide Route. After all, it’s only in this route that they appear to us and talk about their purpose and resurrection. There’d be zero Narra Chara theory talk, no understanding of Chara as coming back from the dead, no thought about them except as the distant dead child of the Dreemurrs.
You literally team up with Flowey. Really interesting idea!
As someone who just likes dark stories, the Genocide Route fulfills for me the emotional rawness that I like in dark narratives. It’s an amazingly mature storyline. It’s a freaking story about a little kid genociding an entire species to extinction, stopping at nothing, willing to even kill children like Monster Kid when they cross paths. There are unforgettable, ominous moments like the creepy build-up to Papyrus’ death or Undyne taking the hit intended for Monster Kid. But at the same time, it’s not unnecessarily dark and violent for the sake of violence… the story serves a powerful, introspective, moral-concerned purpose, and everything is inserted to narrative effect.
I haven’t even begun to mention how fun the boss fights are. So here we are. They are amazingly, amazingly, AMAZINGLY fun. I will admit, I personally didn’t get frustrated with either Undyne or Sans the first time I had to learn how to fight them… I just had a blast start to end.
Um, also, the great music? There’s the changes from the old track. And we get new themes, like the theme that is present in Battle Against a True Hero and Mettaton NEO. Then, of course, there is Megalovania.
The freaking beautiful, awesome, edgy character designs. Mettaton NEO? So sweet, really cool. Undyne the Undying? AHHHHHH. AHHHHH. AAHHHHH YES!!! Sans’ glowing left eye? Me likey. :)
It gives us more speculation about the prophecy, given as the underground DOES go empty in both a TP and NM route.
The final fight with Sans is another great mind fucker to experience as a player first-hand. All the fighting paradigms established throughout the game are broken, shocking the player as they continue through it. The player’s expectations are flopped around as Sans cheats around all the pre-established rules. It’s wild to experience and really, really cool conceptually for the game. He breaks just about everything - he counts how many times you’ve died in a creepy meta fashion, he changes his pre-battle dialogue, he attacks first instead of second, he has no INV frames, he deals poison damage, you have to dodge his attacks on the menu, he slaughters you during a “SPARE,” his “special attack” is preventing you from attacking…
Some of the best, most memorable quotes come from the Genocide Route. I’ll never forget… “it’s
a beautiful day outside. birds are
singing, flowers are blooming… on days like
these, kids like you… should be
burning in hell.”