On the face of it, if a developer suggested that they wanted to make a game about cult management, jam-packed with taboo themes, satanic worship, and all the trimmings of cult life, it’s quite hard to imagine a publisher chomping at the bit to greenlight that project.
Yet, with the power of hindsight, we can tell you that it would have been a smart move. Massive Monster took this concept back in 2022, backed by publisher Devolver Digital, and created one of the most colorful and cute cult simulators on the market.
Cult of the Lamb manages to perfectly balance dark and sinister themes with cute and cozy wholesome game vibes. Creating an overall adventure that is truly unlike anything that we have seen before or since.
It manages to blend genres seamlessly to provide a Hades meets Stardew Valley experience, all the while being able to toe the line beautifully to make it a comedically dark affair. Many may be asking, how the heck did this team come up with this idea? How the heck did they manage to get this one up the ladder, and how do they plan to capitalize on this game’s runaway success?
Well, we sat down with Massive Monster to talk all things Cult of the Lamb and aim to answer all of your most pressing questions! So join the flock and join us on the compound; this is Indie Game Culture’s Interview with Massive Monster, the creators of Cult of the Lamb!
Addressing the Massive Monster in the Room
Where Did You Guys Get the Idea for a Game Like Cult of the Lamb? It is a Brilliant Game, Yet Also Wildly Unique.
Answer: We wanted to mash up and make a mix of a rogue-like dungeon crawler with a colony sim base builder aspect.
I think this idea came out of a science fiction book I’d read where all of these people lived on an air balloon, and the world below was toxic- people would dive down and have to collect things from the world below and bring them back up to the air balloon to survive.
I just thought this was such a great idea for a loop for a game, to have a colony with people you manage but to have to travel out into the ‘toxic’ world for quests. This then turned into nine months of trial and error with different prototypes until we eventually settled on the idea of a cult.
We also liked the cult idea because it was the total opposite of our last release, Adventure Pals, which was super bright, colorful, and cute.
What Were Some of Your Biggest Inspirations When Developing Cult of the Lamb in Its Early Stages?
Answer: Our biggest inspiration in the early stages was, ‘ok, how do we mush a colony sim with a dungeon crawler?’ The game’s early stages involved a lot of trial and error with different concepts.
We tried the idea of being a lost god, and the player is trying to regain followers, and then we tried the idea of creating your own hell, where the player would go out to reap different souls into hell and then punish them. But the issue was our art style was way too cute, and no one would want to punish the little guys.
So, the next idea that popped into our heads was the cult, and this worked with the cutesy art style because, as a cult leader, the player gets to decide what kind of cult leader they want to be, and you have to look after the followers in order to build up the cult.
Once we landed on this idea, everything fell into place and started to make sense.
How Was it When You Guys Saw All the Massive Praise and Excitement Surrounding the Game Before Cult of the Lamb Was Even Released?
Answer: It was incredible and motivating to hear all of the excitement surrounding the game’s release. Seeing Cult of the Lamb on Steam’s most wish-listed shocked us all!
Although we were all super excited by the praise, I think we were also feeling quite stressed because we wanted to make sure that people would enjoy the game and have their expectations of the game reached. We also had a tonne of bugs and other stuff to fix before it was released, so we were working our butts off to make the release go smoothly!
So When Did You Guys Start Development for the Game, and How Did It Look In Its Early Stages?
Answer: We started developing the game after we locked in the cult theme. The early stages involved a lot of exploration of our ideas, and we really couldn’t get too attached to anything because if we decided an idea didn’t work, the idea was scrapped regardless of how long it took us to develop.
Originally, we didn’t have a global hunger or global faith system like in the game now; instead, each follower had their own faith and hunger. But we quickly found this too overbearing and tedious, especially when you’ve got around ten followers. So, we had this radical change where we decided to strip it all out!
We also originally had the dungeons designed so that you would go and fight the bosses continuously until you die, but of course, your followers would all starve to death. We had a bit of a problem solving this because, in the gaming world, you become conditioned to believe it is wrong to go back, almost like you’ve failed the mission.
So, we decided to make it so that after you fought the mini-boss, you were automatically teleported back to the base. So there have been many changes since the game’s early development.
How Helpful Has Devolver Digital Been From a Developer’s Viewpoint of the Game?
Answer: Devolver has been great, and having a partner who believed in us so strongly has been so helpful! Devolver immediately gave us confidence by telling us they loved the game.
How Hard Is It to Design Bosses in a Game Like Cult of the Lamb? As I’m Sure, Balancing and Making Sure Bosses Are Fun Must Have Been Tough.
Answer: It was slightly challenging because we wanted to make the bosses scary and challenging to fight but also find a way to keep the player engaged.
So we came up with the idea of allowing the player to indoctrinate the boss and return it to its natural form after it has been defeated. This allows the player to become super motivated to beat the boss and build on their cult followers.
We also wanted to provide an array of combat modes so anyone could play this game. Our goal with the combat was that we didn’t necessarily want players to lose but to keep them on edge or at the biting point.
How Did It Feel Seeing Cult of the Lamb Win Many Game of the Year Awards and the Best Indie Game From Many Significant Outlets and People?
Answer: It’s been amazing and has surpassed even our wildest expectations! We have not had this level of support with our other games, so I think we’re all still a bit shocked by it all! We’re so happy and grateful for the support and glad to hear people enjoy the game.
What Was the Most Challenging Aspect of Designing the Cult of the Lamb From a Developer’s Viewpoint?
Answer: The most challenging part was putting our ideas to fruition and working out the game design. It was quite challenging to implement the concept of running a cult and being a cult leader, and there weren’t many examples of games that did this that we could look into for inspiration.
So, there was a lot of trial and error and experimentation before we finally got there. We had to work hard at iterating; the game didn’t come together until the end!
We are also a remote team spread across Melbourne, the UK, and Singapore, which sometimes makes it challenging to work out the game’s design over Zoom calls!
You Guys Recently Released a Major Free Update for the Players That Many Have Enjoyed. Are There Plans for More Content, and Will There Be Anything Anytime Soon?
Answer: Yes, we are currently working on another update! The main goal with this will be to add a lot more depth to the followers so that each one feels more unique, and we can create many more emergent stories with them. We also plan to increase accessibility tools like high-contrast text mode and dyslexic font settings.
We are also considering ways to allow players to adjust difficulty independently across the game’s combat and base-building sides to improve their experience.
Are You Guys Working On Anything New or Focusing on Cult of the Lamb?
Answer: We are currently working mostly on updates for Cult of the Lamb, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be working on developing any new games in the future!
Is There Anything You Want to Say to the Fans and Players of Cult of the Lamb?
Answer: Thank you so much for all of your support. We are so grateful to all of those who have played the game and fallen in love with it! We love seeing the cosplays and fan art people come up with; it’s super inspiring! We are all overwhelmed with the love Cult of the Lamb has received from you guys.
Question: What Platforms is Cult of the Lamb Available on?
Answer: Cult of the Lamb is playable on macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Question: How Long does it Take to Complete Cult of the Lamb?
Answer: Cult of the Lamb can take players roughly 14-16 hours on a purely main content-focused first-time playthrough. However, if you are a player that loves to deep dive into games and go the extra mile doing everything and anything possible, the game can take up to 20-22 hours to 100%.
Question: What Awards has Cult of the Lamb Won?
Answer: It’s no secret Cult of the Lamb has enjoyed much-deserved financial and critical success. However, just to put the success into a picture for those at home, Cult of the Lamb has won many major awards.
Awards such as Game of the Year at the Australian game developer awards in 2022, alongside three other awards at that event. Best indie game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards, multiple Game of the Year picks from news outlets, and multiple Bafta nominations.
Cult of the Lamb Interview: Consider Yourself Indoctrinated
That wraps up our fantastic chat with the folks over at Massive Monster. If you haven’t played Cult of the Lamb and love a good indie game or a rogue-like, definitely give it a go, as it’s truly a great experience from start to finish.
After this interview with the team, it’s clear that the people behind Cult of the Lamb care about the game and the people playing it. I always say this with Indie scene developers, but they are truly just some fantastic people, and it’s brilliant to see all their hard and inspiring work get the deserved praise and recognition it deserves.
I know I’m with many people here when I say this, but I am looking forward to seeing what Massive Monster has in store next for either Cult of the Lamb or their next endeavor; that wraps up this interview. Thanks for reading Indie Game Culture.
Cult of the Lamb Steam page: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1313140/Cult_of_the_Lamb/
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