Cult Of The Lamb Was Near Hell, The Creative Director Reveals

As we all know by now, I love video games. But there’s one video game in particular that I really love right now, and that’s Cult of the Lamb.

Cult of the Lamb is a dungeon crawler and cult management simulator from Melbourne-based developers Massive Monster. The sick at Devolver Digital are the publisher. I played the preview and it drove predictably crazy. It rocks.

So based on that, you can imagine my excitement at the thought of chatting with the people who made it. Below is my interview with the creative director of Massive Monster, Julian Wilton. In it we discussed what Cult of the Lamb is, what it could have been and what the online response has meant for the team.


Cult Of The Lamb Was Near Hell, The Creative Director Reveals
Image: Devolver Digital

Ruby

What initially inspired you and your team to create? Cult of the Lamb?

Julian

Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, we just got started with this weird little prototype that was basically like a colony simulator teased with a dungeon crawler. I think that was the basic idea, just putting those two things together. But then there was something like this long iteration process of basically, “How am I going to sell this? How am I going to market it so we can get a publisher to give us money?”.

So yes. We’ve been through many things. I’m a big fan of horror movies and we went in this occult direction where it was much creepier because like the last game we did, adventure friends, was very bright, colorful and random. So that’s why I thought, “I’m going to make it a little creepier,” but in the end I still drew really cute characters.

But yeah, I think we’re just getting started with this cult idea. We had a hell of an idea, but yeah, you were kind of mean to followers, which we liked, but when we went to do it, we just said, “Oh no, we couldn’t hurt them.” I wanted to take care of them.

Ruby

You just felt a little bad.

Julian

Yes I did that. Yes. So yeah, for that it would be idea from hell. But yeah, we’re like, cult is great because you can still be mean to them if you want to, or you can be nice to them. Depends on what kind of cult leader you want to be.

Ruby

Precisely. Well, I took the road to be really nice because… I mean, except there was one guy. There was a guy who just came out of nowhere, I hate the cult now. I’m like, “Well, okay, I have to kill you because it’s taking too long to raise again.” I fell into a trap.

Julian

Oh no!

Ruby

So cults, they’re pretty heavy… Was that a cat?


Cult Of The Lamb Was Near Hell, The Creative Director Reveals
This is Macintosh, Julian’s bad boy. (Image: Julian Wilton)

Just then, Julian’s cat started meowing off screen. Then he picked up the cat and showed off the little sweetheart.

Julian

Oh yeah, my friend, he’s a damn naughty boy today. He runs up to me. He’s Macintosh.

Ruby

Hi! Oh my God. He’s cute.

Julian

At the moment, however, he is naked. He’s a little dirty.

Ruby

That’s him, he’s got no clothes on. Put a shirt on him, god!

We laughed, Macintosh left and the conversation continued.


Ruby

So like I said, it’s clear that cults are a pretty heavy topic when you really look at it, you know? So how did you handle the cute animals and the crazy concepts in a nice balanced way?

Julian

Yeah yeah. Definitely, I think we were a little concerned about how people would react to it in the beginning because it’s cult-heavy, that is, that’s a bit of an intense theme and then also, it’s pretty occult, and kind of like touching some religious stuff, but without saying too much.

So I think even when we announced it, there was someone who made a YouTube video that was about 30 minutes in length and just identified all the cryptic, satanic stuff in the game or something. And I was like, “What the hell?” But it’s cool.

I think for me, I mean, the most important thing I want to do is make sure we really tick the box, is this game about running a cult? And some of that stuff was like having a charismatic leader, so that was a good match, but yeah, there’s the idea of ​​exploiting your followers.

So trying to do that in a way that wasn’t too, I don’t know, confused, I guess. You can do it in a messy way if you want; you could sacrifice them or maybe kill them. If you sacrifice, you can level up and gain more power as a result. Otherwise, yes, they just pray to you in a shrine, so it can keep quite PG if you want, I guess, in that regard. But hey, you can cheat by sacrificing them for some extra points. So yeah it’s up to the player I guess we designed it that way.

Cult Of The Lamb Was Near Hell, The Creative Director Reveals
Image: Devolver Digital

Ruby

Yes absolutely. And you mentioned the charismatic leader, so what was it about the lamb animal that made it your choice for the cult leader?

Julian

I was researching religious things, and I really liked this idea of ​​this sacrificial lamb, and that was actually the working title for a while. And just as the lamb is pictured in many religious things, the lamb of Christ. And originally we had the bad character as this goat that looked like you. So what yes, we can bring back. I don’t know.

But yeah, so just our idea of ​​like he’s pure, he’s good. And then there’s a more bad side, but yeah, it plays into that; the lamb, he’s a bit of a blank slate. He’s a good boy from the get-go, and the game has you investigating whether it can make you question your own morality and whether you’re still a good person after all this stuff you’ve done to your cult members.

Ruby

You mentioned earlier Adventurous Friends, who takes great pride in being just a little stupid. And so, how do you think humor and silliness can contribute to the experience of a game as a whole?

Julian

I just really enjoy creating these big, really interesting worlds with unique characters. i think in Cult of the Lamb, it actually creates a really nice, refreshing moment after you go into the dungeon, that’s pretty intense, everything is a little darker and all, and then you run into this crazy character, and we can be a little silly, but it is more enclosed. I think it just reminds players not to take it too seriously and hopefully enjoy the little, little moments in it.

Ruby

And what have been some of the challenges you’ve faced so far in making the game?

Julian

Yeah, I think a lot of it was that early iteration and even something like, how can we even turn this game into a cult running game? Because we started with that little prototype, but then it was like, like I said, I was looking through all these boxes that we had to tick to get that player fantasy of running a cult hit.

Cult Of The Lamb Was Near Hell, The Creative Director Reveals
Image: Devolver Digital

It was really challenging to get into it and turn that into mechanics and systems that could not only work on the base side, but also work on the base and dungeon and work in that loop. So yeah, it was pretty challenging just in terms of the game design, and then we’re all trying to do this via Zoom calls or whatever, just trying to be like, “Oh, I think this will work. I think that this will work.”

So yeah don’t be personal just to talk about it where sometimes it’s so much faster to call just say “oh yeah this is what i’m talking about” because if you just text when you , you lose things a bit. So just getting everyone on the same page about what the game actually is was probably the most challenging.

Ruby

Yeah right. And now Cult of Lamb is a bit bloated. It’s incredible, and it’s not even out yet, so how do you feel about all the love for your game so far?

Julian

Yes, it was amazing. We’ve absolutely never had anything like this in our other games, so yeah, and I’m still a little shocked when I look at the most wishlisted Steam list, I’m like, “What the hell?” But yeah, I think it’s a mix of pretty stressed out, because we want to make sure people will enjoy it, and hopefully we hit what they expect the game to be.

Balancing that, and balancing all these bits that we have yet to do, even though the game is launching soon. So yeah, lots of bugs to fix and all these other things. But yeah, hopefully people like it, hopefully we can make that happen and it’s not too hyped and people have all these ideas about what it is when it isn’t.

Ruby

Yes, that’s a very good point, absolutely. Now there is a mini fishing game in it Cult of the Lamb. Do you agree that fishing minigames are ultimately better than others?

Julian

Well, I mean, it’s pretty obvious, I guess. I think we all know the answer to that. Yes.

Cult Of The Lamb Was Near Hell, The Creative Director Reveals
Image: Devolver Digital

Ruby

Precisely. Now I have to ask because it was the very first thing I did in both the demo and preview, but once I got a hedgehog follower it was really easy for me to make him look exactly like Sonic the Hedgehog. Was that intentional?

Julian

I don’t know. I didn’t actually draw the hedgehog, but yes, I actually did, I called him “Sanic” or something. Yes, just for fun. But yeah, we just stumbled into it. I think when you start making all these animal followers you start looking for connections with them, and the hedgehog is definitely very easy to go to.

Ruby

You can of course collect followers, but the decision to adjust them when you collect them, where does that come from?

Julian

I think it’s exactly what players want, they want to own it and make it unique. And if they can design their cult, they want to design it, then it’s better. But yeah, it’s just more ways for the players to make the cult their own. Because there’s definitely a few choices you can make at this point, but it’s like we can definitely expand on those as well with post-release updates or something.

Ruby

All the way. And last but not least, what are your professional tips for those looking to run a successful cult-in? Cult of the Lamb?

Julian

I mean, for me I like to take care of my boys, you have to keep the farm going. You have to use those rituals too. So, simple example; everyone is starving, you have to use a little ritual to get everyone to stop eating for a few days so you can catch up with the supply and the demand.

But yeah, I think just like, follow your heart. If you enjoy spending most of your time fishing, that’s fine. If you enjoy the basics more than the dungeon, that’s fine with me too. And hopefully the game can support you in any way you want to play it.


Talking to Julian was an absolute treat, and if anything, it only made me more excited about the full release of the game. If you haven’t had a chance to see the demo of Cult of the Lamb, I highly recommend you give it a try. If you’d rather wait for the full release, don’t wait long.

Cult of the Lamb launches on August 12 for PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

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