Lamb Cult: Animal Crossing Meets the Dark Arts

Zoom in / You know the sweet old nursery rhyme: Maria had a little lamb, but then he was resurrected by the devil and forced to create a murderous cult.

Devolver / Huge Monster

When I first played Worship of the Lamb, launched on August 11 on PC and all major console families, I figured its demonic tone was born as an internal joke for its development team. Maybe the creators of Massive Monster sat and watched simulation gestures like that Animal crossing And The Simsthen he thought that the only way to get through those games was to make a deal with the devil.

Then they went ahead and created a simulation game where players do exactly that. After 90 minutes of playing the extended demo of the game, provided by its editors at Devolver Digital, I am inclined to think that his choices on Sim-Meets-Satan tone, art direction and gameplay were the right choice. (There is currently a free public demo, available on Windows and MacOS, too, but it’s much shorter than the one I sampled.)

He who waits

It seems like a trustworthy entity.  Let's make a deal for our soul.
Zoom in / It seems like a trustworthy entity. Let’s make a deal for our soul.

Devolver

Worship of the Lamb begins with the game’s hero, a Disney-style cartoon lamb, who is brought to his slaughter as a form of religious sacrifice. But death is only the beginning of this game. In the afterlife, you encounter a mysterious underground beast wrapped in chains, simply called the Waiting One. You have the chance to rise from the grave, raise a cult full of devoted followers, expand your mastery of the demonic arts, and defeat a host of monstrous rivals. You can answer this call in one of two answers: “yes” and “absolutely”.

A look at my underdeveloped cult.  Note that two of the characters have socialized and become friends.  This can change their attributes in useful ways, but they can also become sad if one of them dies of gastrointestinal disease (which can happen).
Zoom in / A look at my underdeveloped cult. Note that two of the characters have socialized and become friends. This can change their attributes in useful ways, but they can also become sad if one of them dies of gastrointestinal disease (which can happen).

Devolver

After fighting through a top-down, Zelda-As to sequence and kill your previous captors, a guide with similar demonic inclinations teaches you how to find, free and convert hapless woodland creatures. The formal cycle of the game begins with assigning basic tasks to your only follower on a vast plan that your cult calls home: gathering resources, building structures, tending farms, and so on. Once your minion is occupied, enter a gate that takes you to a series of randomly generated battle rooms, where you will progress on your kill list, gather rarer resources, and find and enlist more easily influenced animals to join the your cult.

Assigning tasks, giving gifts - all in a day's work as a cult founder.
Zoom in / Assigning tasks, giving gifts – all in a day’s work as a cult founder.

Devolver

Take them back to the village, and that’s when the cosplay of the game’s cult leader really begins.

All you need to become more powerful revolves around maintaining the faith and loyalty of your cultists; the former can be exploited and drained by any cultist as a kind of ectoplasm, while the latter remains more of a permanent “point of experience” meter. Time between demon hunting battles can be spent conducting faith drain services, spending individual time with cultists to make them happier, or learning and solving the side quests they ask for.

Just another day to teach the good word.  Today we learned a ritual where I can kill one of my followers to claim rare items and resources.  Everyone seems to agree with the plan!
Zoom in / Just another day to teach the good word. Today we learned a ritual where I can kill one of my followers to claim rare items and resources. Everyone seems to agree with the plan!

Devolver

This is a way to save on resources

Unlike common RPGs, however, you have an option besides being useful. Maybe you don’t care about certain cultists, or maybe you’ve lost the time window to help them solve problems like hunger, disease, or loss of faith. (The longer you stay on the adventure and fight, the more some followers may drift back to the cult farm, as indicated by an always-on day-night cycle.)

At the start of the game’s skill tree system, cult leaders learn that they have the ability to completely sacrifice their followers, which can bestow rare rewards for your cult. This may cost some of the admiration of your other followers, but from what I can tell, experienced cult leaders can still balance their emotional needs while fueling their lust for blood and power.

Each combat encounter is generated randomly, and your hero starts each with randomly assigned melee and ranged attacks.  The game's skill tree decisions can grant you more options in terms of weapons or other completely different perks.
Zoom in / Each combat encounter is generated randomly, and your hero starts each with randomly assigned melee and ranged attacks. The game’s skill tree decisions can grant you more options in terms of weapons or other completely different perks.

Devolver

Worship of the Lamb he could very well have invented a half battle, half simulation ecosystem that sounds a lot simpler or drier, and without the satanic undertones, the game looks a lot like the 1991 SNES classic. Actor. The developers, artists and writers of Massive Monster deserve credit for making this game fun to talk about, watch and think about; Its cult management systems lean on brutality in ways that make logical sense, but add mechanical fun to the question of how players might move forward as cult leaders. One of the game’s skill trees begs a brutal question: Would you rather build beds for your followers or develop the ingenuity to build graves to reduce disease instead? You can’t have both at first. Decisions decisions.

But this game does more than just lift the mechanics of another decades-old game. While its randomly generated battle levels clearly draw inspiration from Sacrifice of Isaac, Worship of the LambThe upgrade system requires careful care of the cult’s farm region, in terms of resource management, skill tree decisions, and even side quests to unlock more “Tarot cards” (which are shuffled and randomly dealt during battle matches to increase your chances of survival). A series of unlockable village outposts near your cult add everything from fun new characters to side quests to mini-games, including a clever tap-to-reel fishing mode and a gimmicky and surprisingly engaging spin on Yahtzee.

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