How would your treat your followers?
Cult of the Lamb was today announced at Gamescom by developer Massive Monster and publisher Devolver Digital. Ahead of the big reveal, Stevivor was able to catch up with Director of Design Jay Armstrong and Creative Director Julian Winton in order to discuss the game.
The title “casts players in the role of a possessed lamb saved from annihilation by an ominous stranger, and must repay their debt by building a loyal following in his name,” Massive Monster said, detailing its title in an initial reveal trailer (at bottom).
“Cult of the Lamb is a hybrid dungeon crawler come base-building colony sim game where you start your own cult of adorable woodland critters,” Armstrong explained. “In the dungeon crawling side of the game, you explore this dark mystical forest full of enemy cultists and monsters, and that’s where you find new followers to recruit or convert [and] bring back to your base.
“There, they’ll work for you and they’ll worship you, but you have to keep them fed, keep them alive and keep their faith high. Otherwise, they might start dissenting against your teachings and have an uprising. And you use them to perform dark spooky rituals — you can sacrifice to the dark gods any followers that are giving you too much trouble. Those rituals are what make you stronger so you can go further in the dungeon crawling side of the game,” he continued.
“You can also preach sermons to [your followers], and that’s how you brainwash them and change what they believe,” Armstrong said. “Through that you can shape your own doctrines and create the cult that that you want to run.”
With offices in Melbourne and the UK, Massive Monster is best known for Adventure Pals, a cartoonish-looking title “fueled by imagination, friendship, and the dark side of hot dogs.” While Cult of the Lamb has a similarly cutesy, animated look, it has a dark side far deeper than that of a ballpark snack.
“I mainly just draw cute stuff,” Winton said, detailing Cult of the Lamb’s aesthetic, “but I wanted this game to be more mature. I love horror films, so I thought, ‘you know, why not make it occult?’
When you’re at your base, it’s kind of safe,” he continued. “You’ve got all your cute little friends, but then you go out into the forest and there is a much creepier side.”
Winton added that he wanted the art direction to envoke feelings of works like Over the Garden Wall and Midsommar.
“What’s so cool about what Julian has done with the art direction is that we can kind of get away with more dark stuff,” Armstrong added, “so the cuter it is, the more we can push it, right?
“Because it’s so adorable, we can get away with a little bit more. Make it a little bit more edgy than we would be able to if it was all just like blood and guts and and super realistic.”
In a time of Trump and rallies of “fake news”, its aesthetic also means Cult of the Lamb can dodge other, more politically-charged responsibilities when it comes to cults and false prophets.
“All religions are cults,” Winton said with a laugh. “All religions were cults, one day. But we’re not trying to say too much [about that] and I think we’re making the game in a way where you can design the cult you want. If you want to be really nice to your boys, you can give them a great life. But if you want to be a bit crazy and eat them all, you can do that too.”
“If you want to turn it into Trump Simulator 2021, you can do that,” Armstrong said with a chuckle. “No judgements here.”
Winton and Armstrong also confirmed that they’re working on Jonestown-like, ‘drink the kool-aid’ functionality to wipe out your followers if you want to go down a dark path. There are also other means at your disposal, said Armstrong.
“I was playing the other day and all of my followers got sick and died,” he explained. “So I was able to chop them up, cook them up into soup and then go out and find more followers.
“When they came back, the new followers had no idea what’s going on. They were just happily eating away the old followers.”
Similarly, Cult of the Lamb will offer other, less violent ways to rein followers into line.
“You can feed these special mushrooms to your followers and they’ll brainwash them,” Winton said. “They won’t have any negative thoughts and stuff like that so you can exploit them a bit more when they’re in that state.”
You’ll have a chance to decide whether to be a benevolent or iron-fisted leader when Cult of the Lamb becomes available in 2022 on Windows PC via Steam. While you wait for the title, one partially funded through Film Victoria, you can check out its reveal trailer below.
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