Christ’s Love in Shovel Knight: Relentless Pursuit

Spolier Alert: Lite Shovel Knight spoilers ahead!
The Tower stands dark in the distance, a valley of obstacles spread before it. The quest could be hopeless, the beloved already lost. Still, a warrior looks toward the darkness. He knows there will be pain that comes with the pursuit, but even so…he will not give up on her.
This is the setting of Shovel Knight, a game that manages–in the middle of bad great shovel puns and eccentric enemies–to demonstrate profound lessons on the power of unconditional love. It’s not every day you find a story that can straddles such extremes.
I came for the tricky jumps and treasure-collecting, but I stayed for the epic romance, fun characters, and–most surprising–the powerful Christian imagery. Because when Shovel Knight races to reach Shield Knight in the Tower of Fate, I’m reminded of our own Savior’s relentless pursuit for those of us who are lost.
Let me preface everything by saying: I know Shovel Knight is a secular work. Any Scriptural parallels found in it would be purely coincidental. Still, I believe God has set eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and even when they don’t intend to, creators can often reflect eternal truths that reveal a need for human redemption.
And I’d like to argue that there IS redemption allegory in Shovel Knight.
You may be familiar with Jesus’ parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep. (Luke 15:1-10) A woman who had lost a tenth of her funds swept her whole home until that one precious coin was found. The shepherd, likewise, wouldn’t rest until one wandering sheep of his one hundred-count herd was returned to the safety of his care. Jesus demonstrated that despite the presumed hopelessness of these scenarios, the woman and shepherd cared too much for what was lost to give up on retrieving them.
The big “twist” at the end of Shovel Knight is that Shield Knight is actually the wicked Enchantress–at least, she’s been overtaken by the Enchantress’s spirit held within an amulet. Shield Knight’s entrapment isn’t expounded upon beyond that (to my knowledge, anyway… *NO SPECTER OF TORMENT SPOILERS, PLEASE*), but it’s enough to know that in order to free her, Shovel Knight must break the curse that’s transformed her.
This is a risk, we discover, because if Shield Knight is already too buried in the personality of the Enchantress, there may be no rescue for her at all.
We, too, can be so buried in our sins we either don’t see the need for a rescue, or we think we’re beyond hope–our Savior wouldn’t waste His time on us. Not this muddied little sheep. There’s too much to overcome.
Even when confronted again and again with the hopelessness of the rescue, Shovel Knight nevertheless pursues his love. Specter Knight mocks that she’s already dead; Black Knight attempts to thwart his rival at every opportunity. But Shovel Knight’s desire for his beloved outweighs every discouragement.
If more people recognized this same attribute present in our own Savior, how differently would they pursue a personal relationship with Him? How differently would they see themselves–not as the dead weight of the universe, but as cherished individuals whom Christ would rather not be without?
Much of our culture operates on the idea that God is gone, or at the very least He’s an apathetic clock-winder. Even some who have accepted salvation have lapsed into the idea that God no longer pursues them. The marriage has gone stale.
If only we knew what Shield Knight knew as she lay rescued in Shovel Knight’s arms: The lover of our soul never gives up on us.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

(More Shovel Knight allegory to come in a Plague of Shadows study next!)

Amanda Bizeau-Nicol

Amanda’s love for video games started way back when she used to watch her brother play the NES; one day, she decided to pick up the controller herself, and the rest is history! She's currently working to upload her longtime fanfic work - The Fluffy Tadpole - to Archive of Our Own. In her spare time, she writes fiction, cross-stitches, whips her husband at puzzle games, and creates Myers-Briggs profiles for fictional characters. (Shh… It’s all perfectly normal…)

4 Comments

  1. Marco Nicol on April 3, 2017 at 3:24 am

    You know, it would be cool if any of the designers and programmers were actually Christians sneaking these themes in.

    • Amanda Bizeau on April 3, 2017 at 6:04 am

      It DOES make me curious. I would love to learn that someone on the Yacht Club team was subtly sharing their faith through the game.

    • Zero Tolerance on April 4, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      How do you know they aren’t?

      😉

      • Marco Nicol on May 4, 2017 at 1:10 am

        You are correct! I don’t actually know either way.

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