That Which Faith Demands

“That Which Faith Demands” by Jenna Yow & Austin Miller.

“An endless war spanning aeons and galaxies, fought with mechs forged from the bodies of gods. [It is] up to you and your crew to salvage what you can.”

In a world where mechs are divine machines, you are hired to get valuables from the war zones. Do your job, get to know your coworkers, and witness holiness – that is the plot of “That Which Faith Demands”, the senior thesis project of Jenna Yow. It has made quite a buzz since it was released, appearing in PC Gamer, and getting recommended by DONTNOD Entertainment when they made their game “Tell Me Why” free for Pride Month. Its success is enviable, if I may be honest with you for a moment. As an interactive fiction creator whose works have mostly gone unnoticed, I am jealous of this title.

In many ways, that is very silly of me; I am aware of that. But the more hype I saw around “That Which Faith Demands”, the more that feeling grew inside of me. I did not like it being there, but it took residence inside of my brain anyway, gnawing at me. I am telling you this because I want to be free of that envy, and perhaps making it known will make it fly away.

“That Which Faith Demands” has you dissecting a dead god and tear off the pieces of a defeated mech so they can be used as scrap. In one of the later scenes, you seem to be pulled directly into the consciousness of the deity, who tells you that you have no right to their body. When you return to reality, you continue to take the mech apart anyway. There is no way, as far as I can tell, to stop salvaging the wreckage. You are committed to your job.

I do not quite believe in God anymore, I am afraid. In fact, I recently released a short essay discussing that I no longer create for higher powers. Because of this, “That Which Faith Demands” was a very strange game for me to play. You are given direct evidence that these mech gods are real and that they do not want you touching their bodies, but you do so anyway. You are sacrilegious out of necessity, for a paycheck, and so you continue your work.

Screenshot of "That Which Faith Demands"

In many ways, I am angry at God. For all the wasted years wanting to belong in the church, for inscribing on my heart songs of a hope I do not believe in anymore, for a lot of things. Because of this, I did not exactly feel sorry for taking the mech apart. God is dead, you say? Good. I will be the first to throw their corpse in the river.

But at the same time, playing this game made me feel like I was trespassing on forbidden soil, doing something one must not say out loud. Perhaps these are old instincts, remnants of the faith I once knew, the faith I believe would save me. The part of me that was not allowed to read about witches or play with “Yu-Gi-Oh!” cards while growing up, that Christ-filled kid inside of me who did not dare to touch things that Jesus would not like. But my character does not care about any of that. And so, I defiled God, and ripped them apart for scrap. You would think that would satisfy my anger at Him, but instead it left me feeling empty. Empty except for the envy, that is. Why do I feel this? My wiser instincts know that I am being very petty, that my time will come. But my base self would really like it if that time came sooner rather than later.

I apologize for making this about me; maybe I am being selfish. But my jealousy at this game’s success is so tied into my play experience, that I could not write about one without writing about the other. I am happy that Yow’s game has done so well. A student thesis going that far is incredible. Overall, “That Which Faith Demands” is a really fascinating little game, acting as a detailed snapshot of a world, the people within it, and their dying gods. I recommend checking it out. Some of you may have already purchased it through the Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid anyway, but even at a purchase price of ten dollars I feel it is worth recommending.

Thank you for reading. [PLAY]