Imagine you have tentacles instead of hands. Go ahead. Now, using the mouse, go to the search bar and, using the keyboard, type “oven mitts”. If your imagination is working, then you probably typed “uihhreujoeg” instead of “oven mitts”, and the text likely made its way onto an email to your boss and close relatives instead of the search bar. And now they’ll know all about your secret tentacles.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch, an indie game from developer Young Horses, holds a similar premise which, in its execution, elicits a real, devastating response to how we deal with disability. Players take control of Octodad, an octopus who has been posing successfully as a human father (kids and all) since meeting his wife.  But the consequence of forcing a cephalopod body into human clothes, and even worse, into human roles is an experience as mechanically fumbling as it is charming. The intentionally oblique control scheme exemplifies the balance of humbling and frustrating that makes Octodad’s rise to dad-hood such a potent, heartfelt story. What becomes of Octodad’s deception is another story.

Young Horses argues that the heart of Octodad’s conflict is the wrong role for the right guy; that Octodad is made for fatherhood, just not human fatherhood. The critical distinction where this metaphor breaks down in relation to the human experience is in its distribution of culpability. The game thrives on its witty, light-hearted tone, but ultimately circumstance is to blame for the apparent mallady of Octodad’s poorly assigned jobs. Who married this octopus, and what was she thinking? Who put the octofather in charge of lawn care? Couldn’t they tell he wasn’t made for this?

Octodad: Dadliest Catch appears to be making an argument for circumstantial salvation, that the fix to a problem lies in the world surrounding. But the way that the game plays tells the exact opposite story, as do most games, particularly power fantasies. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is one of the first, if only, attempts at a weakness fantasy. A weakness fantasy is exactly the opposite of a power fantasy. The weakness fantasy is a dream state or game where the goal is to become as weak as possible, ultimately achieving complete inability, thus ending the game. A true weakness fantasy would be a bummer and over before it started.

However, there’s something immediately relieving about stepping into Octodad’s orange skin and discovering just how incapable his body is. The relief comes from the knowledge that this is a game and it’s made by developers for us. That is, because it’s a game, we know that the challenges presented to Octodad (making coffee, for instance) are all quite doable with the meager tools at Octodad’s disposal. In crafting such unwieldy movement, the objectives can then be comically simple, and the learning curve of the game becomes a slow process of adaptation to disability, as opposed to a descent into a coma. It’s as delightful and as close as a game with positive momentum can come to a weakness fantasy.

In a way, Octodad reveals from a microscopic perspective the pain of living with a disability, and captures well the impulse to hide disability and weakness to just “live a normal life.” The problem with the analogy, though, is that unlike Young Horses, when God constructed the world, He chose that some would suffer in disability without reprieve, and for the sometimes distant view of His glory. Moses heard God speak directly to his own disability in Exodus 4:11, ” The Lord said to [Moses], ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?'”

And if the Lord “works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11)” for “those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28),” then that means there’s an eternal value to the awkwardness–or brokenness–of our bodies here on earth. Paul crystallizes this for us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 when he says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”

Young Horses has a more humble aim with Octodad: Dadliest Catch than Paul in his epistles, namely to elicit empathy and humor for those that don’t seem to fit in. In doing so, the studio has opened the door for a whole new genre of game with a more theologically Christian foundation than almost any other genre. “[Jesus’] power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:19).”