Undertale and Advent: Love in Broken Places

‘And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.’ Luke 2:7

Undertale Frisk

Okay, I know it’s a flowerbed not a manger, but you take my point.

So this is it: Christmas Eve, the final day of advent, and so we come to reflect on the topic of love. For me, when I think of games about love, I can think of no more topical game than Undertale. The more I think about the game world of Undertale, the more I’m surprised by just how human the conflict in the game is, how all the stakes stem from profoundly relatable emotions. The creatures in the underground are striving to get back to a home which they were driven out of. The king wages war on humanity to avenge the death of his son, while the queen tries to save you in memory of him.

And into this world of anger and grief and broken relationships steps a child. A plain old ordinary child, without powers or weapons or anything that you would normally expect to find in a video game protagonist. In Undertale you step defenceless and vulnerable into a foreign and hostile world. A world in which defenceless and vulnerable things can be hurt very badly. And yet, if you the player make the right choices, if the story plays out in the best way possible, then this fractured world begins to come back together again.

But why?

Because in the face of a of a hostile world that meant to do you harm, you laid down your arms and chose to make peace, to love the people who hadn’t shown love to you.

***

When Christians celebrate advent, we celebrate the moment when God almighty, who created everything there ever was and ever will be, chose to draw near to us in love. And so he chose to be born as a vulnerable child into a hostile and violent world, a world full of fractured relationships and broken people, a world which in the end up would reject and kill him. This is what love looks like: God almighty became a lost child and drew near us so that we might have peace.

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