It seems fitting that I finished Meg's Monster just as Asian-American Pacific Islander Appreciation Month starts. There is a lot to cover beyond representation in culture, and so many details that can go into this article. I was crying a lot. People who attended the stream, which went on for over two hours, can verify that fact. They witnessed me reacting to the ending, and then recounting it on Discord afterward.
This game tricked me. I thought it was going to be a straightforward RPG that paid homage to Undertale while having its own voice. Instead, we got an emotional tale about how memories of friendship hold more power than we think they do, and that there is always a chance to change things for the better. Even when all hope seems lost, we can find a chance to reach into the unknown and seek the light. Bettina Levy, one of my good friends, has played as well, and I recommend you all go to her channel to follow her series of Let's Play videos.
A Girl and Her Monster
The game takes place in Underworld, a land of monsters who eat humans. But not Roy and his pal Golan, who are monsters but want no part of the people-eating business. One day the friends find little Meg, lost in the forest, and discover that horrible things happen if Meg starts crying. So they embark on a journey to get Meg back home, doing their best to keep her safe and tear-free in the process.
Much of the game is Meg exploring the underground with Roy, our player character. He protects her from different monsters that either want to meet her or take her into custody. Roy comes to care for Meg, even allowing her to redecorate his cave. While he gets annoyed by the crayon drawings, he realizes Meg drew him and Golan, his friend, playing together. Roy apologizes to Meg when rescuing her from the flower field, after yelling at her about the drawing.
Despite themselves Roy and Golan bond with Meg. Roy realizes he can't let anything happen to her, and not just because of the fact that if she cries, the world will end. He becomes stronger as a result of protecting her, and that also lends strength to Meg. She may be tiny and fragile compared to the monsters who want to eat her, but she nurtures an inner flame of courage and compassion. They return Meg to the lab and eventually, she is reunited with her mom.
The Power of Memory
We return to the start of the game, when Meg explores the abandoned lab. No one has visited since Roy thrashed the guards and launched himself into space, learning he was the harbinger of doom who would blow up and take everyone on Earth’s surface with him. She cries on hearing his last moments, as he promises to be brave for Meg's sake.
Meg has long thought that what happened in the lab was a childlike dream. Her mother told her that what happened in the pit wasn't real. She had a book about a monster protecting a little girl and thought she had brought that fantasy to life. It takes going to the lab for her to realize that what happened was real. She cries an apology to Roy that he can no longer hear, and the credits roll. I prepared to cry as well and thank the creators.
Then the game halts, with the credits fading. Meg, as an adult, sees the flower that she plucked for Roy and her child self. She realizes she can talk to Meg from the past, who fell asleep in the flower field. Meg tells her child self what she needs to do to save Roy. We then go back to the point of no return in the game with the helicopter. Past Meg makes a different choice and says she doesn't trust the humans assigned to fetch her and Roy.
Rather than go in the helicopter, which leads to the first ending, Roy decides they'll find another way to the surface. This ends up saving the monster council as well, as they test Roy and Meg's strength before letting them go to the surface, as opposed to the humans using machine guns on them. It's a much more promising outcome than what we received.
I admit this left me gobsmacked. We had a different option all along? And why did it come up only now?
What changes is Golan's choice. Because Meg warns her past self about the men with the machine guns, the child Meg tells Roy and Golan that they need to take another route. She refuses to go into the helicopter, which the men accept. I was expecting the humans to put up more of a fight considering the full circumstances, but hey, if it works, let’s keep going with the story.
Golan, as a result, has a different choice to make. He opts to confess to Roy about what Roy is, and why Golan befriended him. While Roy is mad, he sleeps on it and realizes they're still friends because, in the end, Golan chose them over the humans. Golan also removed the bracelet that made him a servant to the mysterious scientist. That means that he won't die during the ensuing boss fight and can assist Roy to the best of his ability.
Most importantly, Golan stalls Roy before he can launch the rocket and himself into space. He knows he can't fight him, but he can appeal to his emotions. Golan tells Roy there has to be another way to save him and also orders him not to break Meg's heart. Their skirmish wakes child Meg up, and she then takes Golan's place in the battle to reason with Roy.
Points of Improvement
I felt that the game could have done better in establishing what the flower fields do. We don't have any closure with one of the characters, a monster who lost his memory. If you try interacting with him, the dialogue remains the same. Rather, he says nothing, and you can't save him. One wonders where his soul traveled, and if we can find it. We can help the cannibal monster that wanted to eat Meg, but that deadened shell is a lost cause.
Also, the game could have done more with the concept of saving everyone. Humans trap the monsters underground, and they don't deserve this. Yet we have to leave them underground, in the best possible ending. Undertale went all the way with this idea in the Golden Ending, and Meg’s Monster could have done the same.
The only thing we know is that the flowers allow the human soul to travel through time. Monster souls get lost, but humans traverse in the fields. I feel a few rewrites could have allowed the creators to expand on the full potential of this concept, and not just as an established Chekhov's Gun, like how Undertale used the save and load files in the Pacifist run.
More time spent in the monster world would have helped to get to know everyone we met along the way and understand the established rules. Another hour of gameplay and I would have been sobbing even harder while appreciating the tight storytelling. We would have seen Chekhov's Guns playing together and combining into a unique element.
With that said, the scene where Meg realizes she can use the flower she collected to talk to her past self and save Roy is meaningful. Meg knows very well that changing the past could cause her to no longer exist as she remembers. That doesn't matter; Roy gave his life to her, and she owes it to him to give him a chance. She hears on the recording how scared he is in the rocket, waiting for the end, but telling himself to be strong for Meg's sake. The ending scene confirms that the future has changed, with the red star no longer in the sky.
Looking at the Stars
Meg’s Monster reminded me how, in fiction, friendship can transcend time and space. Even with death and distance, we remember those who changed our lives for the better. Games can pierce the heart when you see these bonds develop over the course of a few hours.
I will draw a lot of Meg’s Monster fanart on the side, especially with the flowers that end up allowing Meg to change the future. This was the best game I’ve played in 2023. I can’t wait to see what the developers make next. They know how to tell a story, and their visuals will affect those who want heartwarming tearjerkers. This evening I know I’ll spend more time stargazing and thinking about my best friends.
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