Cult of the Lamb is a new indie game that’s quickly seen massive success. We spoke with artist and director, James Pearmain, who shared details on the game’s mechanics and what we can expect in Cult of the Lamb’s future.
“I’d definitely like to get some different types of weather into the game that changes your daily routine somehow and makes your followers react differently,” Pearmain explains. Currently, in Cult of the Lamb, you will experience a day-night cycle and will sometimes experience rain. But at the moment, the weather doesn’t have much of an impact on your followers or the world around you. Considering the team at Massive Monster has cited games like Stardew Valley as an influence, perhaps this means we can also expect to see seasonal crops and decorations soon. Or maybe our followers’ productivity will change, depending on what the weather is like.
But new weather patterns aren’t all that we have to look forward to. In Cult of the Lamb, you can assign your followers to do almost any work task around your Cult. However, oddly enough, you cannot have them cook meals. “We did originally have a kitchen building where followers cooked for you, but the cooking system changed quite drastically towards the end of development, and it just didn’t quite make sense anymore,” Pearmain admits. “We might add something similar in a later update though, so players can queue up more meals and go on longer crusades without their followers going hungry.”
Despite there being an option to go on longer crusades once you defeat bosses, players have often been reluctant to do this, due to the impending starvation of their followers. To have a remedy for this would improve Cult of the Lamb’s end-game content especially, as that’s a great time for players to start branching out further on their crusades.
End Game Content
In a previous interview with Game Rant, Pearmain mentioned a desire to add “…more end game content and more things to do after beating the story.” He went on to add, “We want more enemies and weapons and depth to the combat. We want to add more buildings, more ways to interact with your followers, and more follower forms.”
Pearmain admits to me that, though they have lots of ideas, none of this has been set in stone yet. “The launch version of the game feels like a good starting point for us to build from,” he explains. “Eventually [we’ll] expand in all directions and add depth to the world and different systems in the game. You can expect a content roadmap with more details on what to expect soon!” While a release date for the content roadmap was not specified, you might have already noticed that there is a section for this roadmap on the main menu of Cult of the Lamb with the message, “free updates will be coming to Cult of the Lamb soon.” So, it’s safe to say that it won’t be too long before we’re able to get a better idea.
It’s important to note that Massive Monster has already released some DLC for Cult of the Lamb on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch as of August 24. The Cultist Edition DLC includes five exclusive follower forms and eight new decorations. The follower forms include the Monkey, Tapir, Bee, Narwhal, and Tortoise. The decorations will be different types of flowers.
The Cultist Edition DLC is now available on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch! It includes 5 exclusive Follower forms and 8 Decorations
🌼 Pretty flower decorations pic.twitter.com/Agk9zNE6rB
— Cult of the Lamb 🙏🐑👑 OUT NOW (@cultofthelamb) August 24, 2022
Co-op and PvP
We’d be remiss to discuss the future of Cult of the Lamb without mentioning co-op or PvP though, as these are some of the most desired features that fans have inquired about. As it is, Cult of the Lamb currently has no opportunities for online play or any form of co-op, so you cannot visit each other Cults, fight each other, or crusade together.
“It’s definitely something we’d still love to do, but right now we are focusing on getting the game stable and our initial content updates,” Pearmain explains. “If the game continues to be a success and the players have a hunger for it, then it’s something we’ll definitely look into for the future.”
Considering the game’s popularity, it’s highly likely that we will be seeing some form of multiplayer coming to Cult of the Lamb. But as Pearmain pointed out, the team at Massive Monster has had their hands full working on patches. “We’re working hard on ironing out the issues being reported on each platform,” he explains. “We are a small team with an ambitious game that had a huge launch week with lots of players, so it’s natural for bugs and issues to pop up. The PC version has been patched and console patches are on the way—they just take a little longer to prepare and be submitted.” In fact, since speaking with Pearmain just days ago, patches for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PS5 have already gone up, with an Xbox patch deemed to follow “soon.”
This update should hit Xbox soon. We'd love to tell you specific release times about patches but we honestly don't know when they'll go live!
After updates are submitted on consoles, they go through an approval process and appear on the stores as soon as they're available.
— Cult of the Lamb 🙏🐑👑 OUT NOW (@cultofthelamb) August 25, 2022
Cult of the Lamb’s Success
It seems that the reception to Cult of the Lamb has been so much more than the team at Massive Monster could have imagined. “We’ve been blown away!” Peamain admits. “I don’t think anyone could have predicted the game’s launch to be as successful as it has been.” Cult of the Lamb hit one million players within the first week of the game’s launch. While this is phenomenal for Massive Monster, it’s left some wondering—just what it is that makes this game so special?
The Lamb has blessed 1 MILLION players in our first week!
We are eternally grateful for your devotion and our team is committed to improving the game with tweaks, fixes and free major content updates.
This is only the beginning as there's so much room for this Cult to grow! pic.twitter.com/sj44I8Ufp3
— Cult of the Lamb 🙏🐑👑 OUT NOW (@cultofthelamb) August 18, 2022
“On the surface, it seems people are attracted to the art style and mix of cute and creepy elements,” Pearmain theorizes. “They like the characters and dark imagery—just the amount of fanart we’ve been seeing has been incredible! I think the fantasy of being a leader and running your own cult, making the rules and decisions, and building up your cult is one that people seem to resonate with. When it gets down to the actual gameplay, the mix of the two genres makes it feel reminiscent of other popular games while also feeling fresh and unique.”
The Roguelike and Life-Sim Mix
We’ve seen quite a few life sim games and numerous roguelikes. However, it’s not common to come across a game that blends these two genres together. Somehow, Massive Monster hit a home run by creating the perfect combination of engaging combat with creative sandbox features.
“With our previous games, we’d done two linear platformers in The Adventure Pals and Never Give Up,” Pearmain recalls. “We wanted to do something different that was less linear, that people could go back to play again and again and could be expanded on with more content beyond launch. We love roguelikes and their addictive nature but thought if we could add an interesting meta game on top of that, then it would make for a compelling game loop. So, we decided to mix that fun second-to-second and minute-to-minute combat gameplay of a roguelike, with the longer-term, hour-to-hour gameplay of a colony simulator. We layered the theme of starting a cult of woodland animals on top, and Cult of the Lamb was the result!”
For as impressed as most people have been, not everyone has been thrilled about Cult of the Lamb. Last week, the publisher of Cult of the Lamb—Developer Digital—shared an email they received from an angry Christian.
Answering fan mail. pic.twitter.com/r79iNRt6g8
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) August 19, 2022
The email reads, “You are a publisher in Austin, Texas how can you in good faith publish a game that is so completely heretical? I don’t understand how a Christian in good conscience could back such a thing.” While Developer Digital cleverly responded with, “Our dark lord The One Who Waits commanded it,” this didn’t shed light on how the team at Massive Monster was feeling about the potential backlash.
“We weren’t too worried about [receiving backlash],” Pearmain says. “The game has a sense of humor and is obviously satirical. We’re not really trying to make any huge statement or judgment on real religions. The religious and satanic themes and imagery are just something that came naturally as we explored the core mechanic of starting a cult. We’re not pushing ideas down people’s throats. We just wanted to give them a sandbox with different ways to play.”
Considering Pearmain specified that they weren’t trying to make any religious statements, this does still beg the question—how much of Cult of the Lamb is based on real religious practices? The game includes numerous Doctrines you can set for your cult, leading to different rules and rituals you can perform. For example, there is a Holy Day Ritual that allows all your followers to gain faith and have a full day off work, comparable to other holy days like the Sabbath. But according to Pearmain, much of the content in Cult of the Lamb didn’t necessarily stem from religious practices.
“The Rituals and Doctrines were more informed by the cult mechanics in the game rather than any real religions or traditions,” he explains. “We wanted them to give different ways of interacting with your followers and let players alter the different workings of the cult management side of the game. For the cult mechanics themselves, we did read up on a lot of different cults throughout history, looked at religions and the occult, and came up with a set of common rules that they all shared to base the gameplay and day-to-day actions of cult life around. The names and descriptions did pull from religious references to make them feel spiritual and carry the religious themes.”
The Musical Cherry on Top
If you think about it, Cult of the Lamb is ultimately one of the most unique blends of traits brought together to make a quirky and appealing game. It has religious influences and cult mechanics along with cute, animal characters. Half the time, it feels like you could be playing an adorable children’s game, yet you can easily turn around and murder your followers too. While one minute you might be tending your crops, the next moment you could be out battling heretics on a crusade. The last boost the game needed was one final touch to bring the whole project together. Luckily, the composer for Cult of the Lamb, known as River Boy, accomplished exactly that.
“[River Boy] lives in Melbourne and met our Creative Director Julian, and they worked together on a small game called Unicycle Giraffe.” Pearmain recalls. “We brought him on early in the process for Cult of the Lamb and have worked quite closely with him to make sure the right vibe and themes came through. He really smashed it out of the park! What I love about the music is it manages to channel both the light and dark elements that are seen in the game’s art and its themes—and it’s done it in a way that sounds original. To me, his music is quite different to most other video game soundtracks out there, so he has really helped give Cult of the Lamb its own unique voice.”