Warning: This post contains spoilers for events that take place towards the end of the True Pacifist Route in Undertale….
Not so very long ago, I had the immense pleasure of playing Undertale, a game that made me feel a wide range of emotions. I grew to deeply care about characters who had earlier tried to kill me. I found myself feeling sympathy for even the most basic of enemies. I felt the monsters’ despair at being trapped underground without sunlight or even the distant light of the stars. And I developed a strange compassion for even less lovable characters simply because the game allowed me to have the choice between killing them and showing them mercy, even when some may not have deserved it. Undertale was an emotional game, made even better because it was paired with an amazing soundtrack. There is one location, however, that made me feel a new set of emotions. Anxiety and fear.
The True Lab is, undeniably, the creepiest location of the game. This place, to my knowledge, can only be reached if you take the True Pacifist Route, and even then, it is only accessible at the very end. The basement of Dr. Alphys’ lab is haunted not by ghosts, but “amalgamates”, monsters who have literally melted together to form horrifying creatures. It is here that we learn what Dr. Alphys has really been up to, along with a jaw-dropping revelation concerning…sorry, I’m not spoiling that.
Undertale has serious moments. It has some creepy moments. But this is the one location in the game that is absolutely chilling, SNES-style graphics notwithstanding. And a big factor in the lab’s eerie feel is the background music, Here We Are. The opening alone just makes me feel like I’ve entered a cold, dark basement, which is creepy on the best of days. And the piano that follows just has something sinister about it, especially at 1:28. When you first enter the lab, you don’t know what to expect, but the music warns you not to let your guard down. It alerts you to the dangers ahead without providing any comfort, its repetitive tune reminiscent of an ongoing uneasiness with no relief.
Video from Youtube User: Elu Tran
While the rest of my time with Undertale was filled with amusement and a great excitement to see what would happen next, my time exploring the True Lab was tense and filled not with excitement, but with apprehension. And I think “Here We Are” does a good job at expressing my feelings in audible form. The piano plods along in a manner not unlike my weary self, propelled by curiosity and a desire to complete the game, even if I couldn’t form a great deal of enthusiasm for the task at hand when I never knew what would happen next. Amalgamates flow out of faucets or disguise themselves as a save point. Some encounters turn into battles, while others end before a single blow must be exchanged. It was a tiresome trek, to be sure, and even though I have left the True Lab behind, the music still…resonates with me.
Sharing my Fears with Others, it Fills the Duck with Determination
Featured image from Flickr User: mars2999