In my first article on Shovel Knight as allegory, I looked at the love story between Shovel Knight and Shield Knight as a mirror of Christ’s love and relentless pursuit of His Church. So, we know what Christ is willing to do for us. But now, if we intend to accept this offer of salvation, we must ask ourselves: what’s required of us?
Well, I hope you played the Plague of Shadows DLC, because the love story between Plague Knight and Mona reflects something of our relationship with Christ as well.
*Amanda is not advocating you gain all spiritual insight from retro platformers; she merely draws parallels between faith and geekdom because she over-analyzes everything. Please be sure to build a foundation in Scripture first and foremost.*
In the Plague of Shadows story, we see a different pursuit born of love. Plague Knight pines for Mona but thinks himself inadequate for her affection. It’s a cute romance that rights itself after moments of miscommunication, but does it really have the depth to convey lessons in Christian attitudes?
For those unfamiliar with the story, Plague Knight is our charming anti-hero, member of the Order of No Quarter, who has sworn fealty to the Enchantress only so he can rob her and the other powerful Knights of their Essences. With such ingredients, he can concoct a potion to give him ultimate power and the ability to gain anything he could ever want. Yet all he really wants…is Mona’s love.
He considers this affection to be unattainable, though, as circumstances (and the comments of others) drive home his shortcomings. (Get it? Shortcomings?) His solution: force a change in character which he assumes Mona will fall for.
The faulty logic here is clear to players who can already see that Mona loves him as is. But you know, those who follow Jesus can often be just as oblivious as our twitterpated, bird-masked alchemist. We often work to achieve what our Savior already freely offers.
Isn’t it interesting that across cultures, upbringings, and religions, there’s this tenacious human need to either prove our worth or strive to accomplish deeds that grant redemption? It’s as if we can feel our intrinsic fallen nature from day one. It even permeates our entertainment, with stories of short-statured, maniac alchemists who don’t see themselves getting the girl.
And how do we become “enough“? According to Plague Knight, “The potion is the only way.” He believes he will only be acceptable to Mona if his self-imposed criteria are met. Have you ever engineered something similar before Christ—your own checklist to be met before you finally believe his grace is for you?
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). There are no previously-established conditions to meet in order to receive this gift. And yes, those who have decided to follow Christ are asked to take up their cross for the sake of their Savior: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). But remember, Jesus didn’t say, “Obey my commands, and then maybe I’ll love you.” The love he offers is free for our acceptance; it’s my belief that our own obedience is born from the love we offer back to him.
Now, if you’ve played Plague of Shadows, you know about the dance subplot. (If you haven’t played Plague of Shadows, you’re missing out on some serious charm, my friend.) In the middle of his grasp for ultimate power, Plague Knight tries an alternate gamble to win Mona’s heart: learning some sweet footwork to join her in her heretofore solo dance hobby. From a romantic perspective, this already wins all the heart reacts your bevy of emojis can provide. But it’s also important from a spiritual perspective: hich response do you think Jesus asks of you as his follower? Conceive of a grand gesture that’s got you out to prove your worth? Or would he ask of you something that brings you in close relationship with him?
In the end, the latter gesture is successful between Plague Knight and Mona, and it’s my opinion that this is a fair mirror for what Christ asks of us in return. It still takes work, and it takes all our soul to engage in such a relationship; but it’s the difference between attempting to deserve what you don’t think is yours, and hearing your Savior say “It already is.”
I mean, if anything, it sure beats drinking a volatile potion that may force you to battle a dark version of yourself.
(Will there be a Specter of Torment study? Stay tuned after I binge-play that game!)
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