Sea of Stars: Changing The Ending
-This devotional contains details about the ending, and True Ending of Sea of Stars-
Sea of Stars from the first image I saw had my interest. I was looking for a good story heavy game to play, and the images reminded me of Final Fantasy 3 a bit. Just a solid 32-bit RPG that I could dive into. While I was still on the fence about the purchase I saw Brett Vance, a credible voice in the nerd world, raving about it in the Love Thy Nerd Facebook community. I bought it on my Switch with no hesitation after that.
I quickly found myself in a world of lunar and solar based powers, promised children, and mythical warriors. All your basic fantasy elements. I caught myself in the first “tutorial” portion of the story almost unimpressed. Valere (moon) and Zale (sun). Another story of the charming attractive chosen kids saving the world. But what I wasn’t planning on was Garl. The perfect super powered cool kids had a kind, loving, powerless, sacrificial sidekick. Someone who had lovingly stayed by them through their journeys and had a devotion that is unmatched.
Someone who could lose an eye in childhood, and not go full “villain arc” bitterness. Someone who could suffer and still want and push for the best for others. Someone who would spend 8 hours trying to break into a restricted magical academy just to leave some cookies for his friends. I was here for this. Because in a world of magic powers, ghost pirates, giants, cyborgs, dragons, world eating monsters, and mystical adventures; a loving, devoted, selfless, friendship is what is most impressive.
One of the moments in scripture that echoes the same devotion of Garl is the story of David and Jonathan.
“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” - 1 Samuel 18:1-3
Souls knit together. Loved as your own soul. Covenants made.
Do you have people in your life you feel that strongly connected to? Is there anyone in your life that shows you that kind of devotion?
The way Garl loved his friends was fantastic to see. He quickly became the hero of the story for me. He had no special abilities, but the way he loved was a power to itself. Valere and Zale were only allowed to go forward on their journey because they were empowered solstice warriors, meaning Garl wasn’t qualified to go forward. He wanted to proceed with his friends out of his love and devotion even without powers. His love was so powerful that the Elder Mist took note of him, and his heart, and allowed him to proceed. The Elder Mist saw that the way he cared, the way he loved may be able to “Soothe the long-tormented soul” of the Sleeper.
A giant Dragon that clung to the side of a mountain that everyone lived in fear of waking, the Elder Mist saw Garl could be the one to love this creature well enough to bring about a change in their future.
Loving well can truly change long tormented souls. Not just in dragons but in the hearts of people. We are a generation of tormented souls. People overburdened in so many ways. People burdened by the consequences of their own choices and people burdened by things they have absolutely no control over. Loving well can soothe that torment.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” - Proverbs 16:24
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” - Romans 2:4
“And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” - 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Garl knew kindness could change the worst of us, just like Scripture shows from God Himself to the way we love others. It’s powerful. Garl put It in practical steps, he believed that by baking the biggest, best bread in the world, it could change the dragon’s heart. Because as Garl planned, who can be grumpy when being awakened by fresh baked bread? It’s fresh coffee for me, but bread is not a bad choice either.
Garl’s plan is put into action and as his team gathers together to bake giant bread via lava and volcano, it wakes the sleeper and brings him right to the warrior cook. The dragon was not only woken but won over.
“Thank you, curious one, for this unprecedented act of goodness and generosity...I thank you. Never have I encountered such a caring soul.” - Wentworth (the Dragon)
But Garl had already shown his love and kindness in far greater ways before the bread and the dragon. Aerophul appeared and demanded retribution for Resh’an’s interference.
“An eye for an eye then?” - Aerophul.
Aerophul cast a magic blast that could have potentially killed any of the party, but Garl being Garl, jumped in front of the blast. Keep in Mind, Garl was literally the least qualified person to take that blast. Resh’an was a powerful magical being. Zale and Valere were solstice warriors. Serai was a flipping cyborg, but Garl loved his friends more than he was concerned about the logistics of battle damage. He leapt in front of them taking the dying blow. That’s who he is.
That’s also who Jesus calls us to be.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13.
Jesus shows us that this is the biggest display of love we can show, but this isn’t the first time Jesus spoke on the topic. He wasn’t just commanding His disciples to live this way but letting them know it’s His plan as well.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”” - John 10:17-18.
Jesus often calls us to hard things because He’s calling us to follow Him, not just in teaching, doctrine, and theology, but in action. Once Garl is at death’s door, he demands a flask of borrowed time, and sets out to finish what he must do before he dies, including baking for a waking dragon. In the process he says this;
“I don’t have much time, Valere. I want to make the most of it.”
Garl was living on limited, borrowed time. He knew full well that he didn’t have much left, and he wanted to spend it loving and helping his friends. That’s really not much different than us. We all know that our time on Earth is limited, but it’s when we are faced with moments that remind us of our mortality that we really engage with that understanding.
The apostle Paul makes a statement that really tracks with Garl’s perception of the value of time.
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” - Colossians 4:5-6
Garl knew he wanted to use his time as best he could, so he used it to help his friends on their journey. For us it goes beyond just helping out friends, but to be helpful in helping those who don’t know Christ or the life to be found in Him, to find it. By relationally responding. By being good friends. By being gracious and engaging. Not by force or manipulation. The way we live our lives should be the same way Garl baked bread for Wentworth. To see their situation, see the need, see the best way to respond, and do it lovingly.
“Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” - Ephesians 5:16
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” - Psalm 90:12
Garl accomplished all he set out to do, and then, he died. I wept. Like wept wept. Then I spent the rest of the game hoping they were going to find some way to bring Garl back. Then I beat the game. As the credits rolled, my heart ached. The game was over, and Garl was still dead.
Like Aephorul said, “An eye for an eye then, but we will will get to that.” There was a consequence. Garl’s life was lost, and that sucked. But then, right as the last of the credits rolled, we are teased with a question mark attached to the end. We are also told that if we examine some relics in the Moorelands, we will find a surprise.
When Resh’an learned that Aerophul had been deceptive and had been breaking the rules of their arrangement all along, he decided to change the rules himself. At some point near the climax of the game we see Resh’an talking with B’st about a portal and limitations. He then leaves the party, heading off on his own quest and leaving the party with a clone shell of himself.
Once you’ve accomplished the tasks required by the relics in the Moorelands, we find that Resh’an set out to enact a plot to change the past and bring Garl back from the dead. He wasn’t just going to allow Aerophul to rob the world of this young man who was as good as they came. Once you complete the Chronophage, Valere, Zale, and B’st travel back in time. Zale and Valere grab Garl, and B’st shifts into the form of Garl, and the rest of the story played out. The friends are united, and B’st just has to be dug up out of Garl’s grave
“Alright, let’s go dig up my grave. I can’t wait to meet my savior!” - Garl
While this may just seem like heavy handed fan service, it’s not. When you beat the game in the original ending Aerophul gets away. You never actually get to battle him. But with Garl in you your party you are able to actually face and defeat the fleshmancer. Garl’s presence made a difference. One thing to take note of too is that this plan didn’t stop Garl’s original death. He died. That happened. His dialogue states that he was able to watch his friends from the other side through their whole ordeal, and that he wasn’t allowed to talk about what he saw there. Garl’s death and his resurrection were both required for the storyline to play out fully.
“What a time huh? I sure didn’t have resurrection on my list when we started our adventure!” - Garl.
A debt that was owed. A sacrificial death. A resurrection. A substitution in death that others might live. Evil defeated. Cmon. If you’ve made it this far in this, you know how clearly that parallels our story in scripture.
Resh’an saw that his enemy was not playing by the rules and only brought destruction.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10
Garl died for his friends, as we previously explored, there is no greater love than that.
Garl was resurrected from the dead.
"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” - 1 Corinthians 15:20-21
B’st took Garl’s place in death.
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
And because all this took place, the evil Fleshmancer was defeated.
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” - 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
The entire time I played the game, Garl was my favorite. When He died, all I wanted was to bring him back. Once I found out he could be brought back, even though it was going to be difficult (who wants to go hunt rainbow sea shells?), I knew it would be worth the effort.
When God looks at you, He loves you. He did not want death or sin to separate you from Him. He said you were worth changing the ending for. He was willing to allow Jesus to die to take your place in substitution so that you could be united with Him. Not only allowing Jesus to take your place in death, but that in resurrection He would defeat death itself.
I love good adventures. I love seeing friendship, devotion, love and sacrifice played out on grand scales. Not just because it’s entertaining, but because it echoes the truth of the greatest story ever told. The last screen of Sea of Stars is Zale and Valere reuniting with an elderly Garl for his birthday. The shot freezes are they are running to embrace. That moment is the reward for the player, and that moment when we are met with the loving open arms of our Savior is our reward as well.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” - Matthew 25:21