Many games have multiple branching paths where players decide who lives and who dies, indie role-playing game mega-hit Undertale chief among them. Very few (possibly zero?) concerts can boast the same thing. Undertale Live, then, will be a unique experience pretty much no matter how it pans out.
Undertale Live is, first and foremost, a concert, but it’s also more, billing itself as a “meeting place where fans join the quest by voting on each show’s unique storyline.” Produced by AWR Music Productions and set to be performed by the Fifth House Ensemble (with Undertale creator Toby Fox’s official blessing), Undertale Live will debut in Chicago in January. Previously, Fifth House put on a similarly ambitious concert focused on PlayStation hit Journey, during which individuals played the game and musicians had to react in real time. For Undertale, however, Fifth House wants to do something different—something that draws on the game’s unique structure, in which players’ decision to spare or defeat monsters drastically alters how the story unfolds and, as a result, some of the songs players hear.
Fifth House artistic director Dan Visconti told Kotaku in an email that the show is structured such that audiences vote at “critical junctures,” allowing them to spare or fight characters and ultimately arrive at one of the game’s three signature endings: neutral (kill some, spare some), pacifist (kill no one), or genocide (kill everyone). This will be accompanied by visuals from the game.
But that presents a dilemma. If you canonically stick to Undertale’s neutral or pacifist routes, you get a more hopeful outcome, sure, but you miss out on some of the game’s best tunes. For example, “Megalovania,” a track so pervasive that it’s taken on a life of its own on Tiktok and even Jack Black’s YouTube channel, doesn’t play unless you fully commit to the genocide route and fight quirky skeleton Sans in a climactic showdown at the end of the game. Visconti said, however, that Undertale Live will have secrets of its own that might lead to special performances of beloved songs.
‘Oh man,’ you might be thinking; ‘We’re never gonna hear Megalovania!’” he said. “Let’s just say that Undertale Live (while faithfully following the events and choices in the game) is nevertheless a new experience, and it may be possible to jump timelines, get a better ending, unlock secret encores... who knows?”
He went so far as to declare that, having run the numbers, he believes “no two performances of Undertale Live will ever go down quite the same way.”
While only the Chicago premiere show has been announced, Visconti said that there’ll be many more, with dates in May and a proper North American summer 2020 tour already planned. The show will change over time, too.
“We’ll keep evolving the show based on fan input following each show, incorporating new story segments, encores, and arrangements of unreleased tracks,” said Visconti.
“We want this to be a show that cares as much about the fans as they care about Undertale,” said Visconti. “And fans can continue to expect some aces up our sleeve as excitement builds for the upcoming release of the game’s long-awaited followup, Deltarune.”