An unusual video game called Cult of the Lamb was recently released for various gaming platforms. It reached the top of the sales charts and seems to be developing a cult following of its own.
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
A week ago today, an unusual little video game called Cult Of The Lamb was released for various gaming platforms and immediately rose to the top of the sales charts. It’s already sold a million copies across all platforms and, well, it seems to be developing a cult following of its own.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE YOUTUBE VIDEO, “SERMONS FROM THE CHRIST: STARTING YOUR WORSHIP”)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: So lead your flock, grow your power and spread the word of the lamb.
SUMMERS: Glen Weldon, host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, is among the growing flock. Hi Glenn.
GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Hi, Juana.
SUMMERS: Ok, I downloaded this game…
SUMMERS: …But I wanted to wait to play it until I talked to you, so I need you to bring us up to speed here. The name makes this game sound incredibly creepy, but I guess that’s not the full story.
WELDON: No, not the whole story. This game is, well, it’s adorable because your character is this cute cartoon sheep. You have those big Disney character eyes and you’re tasked with gathering followers. And your followers are also cartoon animals: piggies and deer and kittens and bears, and they have the same big saucer eyes as you.
SUMMERS: Aww (ph).
WELDON: It’s very sweet, very sunny, at least on the surface, because your job is to get your fans to adore you, and you do that by keeping them happy. They need food. You build them a farm. They need to sleep. You build them a shelter. They have to poop. You build them outbuildings. You want to start building dependencies right away because this is very important. If you don’t, they’ll poop all over the place and then get sick. So the more you do for them, the more their faith in you increases, which gives you the power you need to go out and do your cult leader stuff, like go out into the world and gather more followers and kill other cults. This game is adorably sinister—think Animal Crossing meets “Helter Skelter.”
SUMMERS: Okay, Glen, we were talking about cute animals with saucer eyes, and now this is taking a dark turn. Is it a dark game?
WELDON: Well, it sure can be. It doesn’t have to be, though, because it gives you a lot of options about what kind of cult you create—what kind of cult leader you become. Now, you could be the guy who sacrifices your followers and brainwashes them with magic mushrooms. And that will give you a quick boost of faith, sure, but it has long-term repercussions because your followers are individuals, and some of them will be horrified that you’ve sacrificed their little piggy friend, and a mushroom trip will do. leave them exhausted. And if you do nothing about it, they will turn against you and begin to sow dissent among your flock.
On the other hand, you could be the kind of cult leader who keeps your followers loyal by offering them small blessings or listening to their confessions. Now, the more you play, the more the line separating cult from organized religion becomes a distinction without a meaningful difference. So now, one thing that gives you so many options, of course, is that it opens up the replay value of the game because once you’re done, you just go back and play as a completely different kind of cult leader.
SUMMERS: And I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to be a cult leader? But Glen, I understand that managing a cult is only part of this game.
WELDON: Yeah, the other half is dungeon crawling. To get more followers and get the resources you need to keep them happy, you’ll need to leave your home from time to time: go out into the world. The game generates a series of short, random dungeons for you to work your way through and gives you weapons to take down your enemies. And then finally you’ll meet rival cult leaders and defeat them in boss battles.
(NICE SOUND FROM ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Character, Non-English Spoken Language).
(SOUND MODIFICATION OF THE ROLLING GLASS)
WELDON: Combat is fine. It’s nothing special. But what it does do is give you a much-needed break from the constant demands of your followers, who can be quite a whiny bunch. So after a long day of cooking them herb soup and emptying their outhouses, it’s fun to jump back into a dungeon to take out your frustrations on a few demon frogs or mage ravens or whatever. And that’s the call, right? That’s the secret here. I think there had been games where you managed your resources before, and goodness knows there had been games where you crawled through dungeons before. But the way Cult Of The Lamb combines them? He’s really smart. It’s very funny. And like I say, this game is adorably creepy.
SUMMERS: Okay. Cult Of The Lamb is now available on multiple platforms. Glen Weldon, host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, thank you.
WELDON: The lamb provides, Juana.
(GOOD SOUNDTRACK OF “PAISE THE BOY”) BY RIVER boy
NPR transcripts are created on a fast deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authorized record of NPR programming is the audio record.