Independent game developer Massive Monster has released the much-anticipated “Sins of the Flesh” update for their hit cult simulation game Cult of the Lamb. The update, which adds new romantic relationship and reproduction mechanics to the game, has been garnering significant media attention and fan debate ever since its announcement last year.
Overview of Cult of the Lamb
Cult of the Lamb first launched in August 2022 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and PC. In the game, players control a possessed lamb who escapes death at the hands of an inquisitor, is imbued with dark powers from “The One Who Waits,” and starts their own cult in a mysterious land full of rival cult leaders.
Key features and mechanics in Cult of the Lamb include:
- Recruiting and managing followers
- Building and customizing your cult compound
- Exploring procedurally-generated lands for resources
- Engaging in tactical, roguelike combat
- Performing dark rituals and sermons to maintain loyalty
- Making moral choices that change the development of your cult
With its creepy-cute art style, addictive gameplay loop and subtle satire of organized religion, Cult of the Lamb became an indie hit in 2022. By December 2022 it had sold over 3 million copies.
Background on the “Sins of the Flesh” Update
In October 2022, Massive Monster first hinted that a major content update focused on romantic relationships was in development. Initial details were scarce, but the developer said the update would “allow players more freedom in how their cult operates.”
Speculation ran rampant about what exactly this update would entail. In early January 2023, Massive Monster revealed more information:
- Followers would gain the ability to form romantic couples and “hook up”
- A new “mating” mechanic would allow couples to produce offspring
- These children would grow up to become followers themselves
- There would be same-sex relationships
- Players could customize follower outfits and gender presentation
Reactions to the announcement were mixed, ranging from enthusiasm to skepticism and some degree of outrage over the adult themes. But interest in the update, now dubbed “Sins of the Flesh,” continued to grow.
On January 17th, 2023, Massive Monster released full patch notes detailing all the major additions in Sins of the Flesh. Key changes include:
New Romance System
- Followers can form relationships, fall in love and break up
- Their current relationship status is visible with color-coded icons
- Certain followers have inherent preferences impacting romance
- Players can construct a “mating tent” building to facilitate hookups
Offspring and Life Cycles
- Romantic couples have a chance to produce offspring after mating
- These children will grow into followers with unique traits
- Followers now have visible age statuses impacting their abilities
- Maximum follower age caps have been added, causing eventual death by old age
Additional Quality-of-Life Updates
- New ritual allowing players to change a follower’s gender
- Over a dozen new follower outfits and customization options
- Followers will sometimes autonomously chat with one another
- UI tweaks and notification improvements
- Many bug fixes and balancing changes
The full patch notes contain a wealth of other more minor additions and changes. But the relationship, reproduction and aging systems seem to form the main thrust of the Sins of the Flesh update.
Reactions to the Update So Far
Now that Sins of the Flesh is actually playable, reactions have run the gamut from extremely positive to skeptical and outraged.
Many players have praised the update for adding new layers of depth and emotional investment to the cult management gameplay:
“I never expected to get so attached to the randomly-generated followers in my cult, but seeing them fall in love and have babies is rewarding in a whole new way. It makes you way more invested in their wellbeing.”
Others enjoy the humor inherent in these weird occult creatures engaging in shockingly normal domestic activities like finding partners, raising families, and gossiping with neighbors:
“There’s just something inherently funny about these demonic anthopomorphic lambs worrying about their looks, hooking up after one too many glasses of moonberry juice, and trying to set up their friends on dates. The contrast highlights the absurdity of both mundane social rituals and deranged cult behavior.”
However, some players report finding certain elements like the mating animations too sexually explicit:
“I’m fine with the general idea of consensual relationships, but some of the actual mating visuals feel a bit too adult for this cartoony style of game. I wish there was an option to keep the gameplay mechanics without having to watch hyper-sexual pixel art lambs do the nasty.”
And a portion of the online discourse has involved debate around whether any kind of romantic or sexual themes belong in a game like this at all:
“Adding a bunch of dating simulation and breeding mechanics feels completely unnecessary for the core gameplay loop. Just let me manage my cult in peace without dealing with a bunch of hormonal sheep!”
Regardless of where individual players stand on the update, it’s clear that Sins of the Flesh has added a surprising new dimension to Cult of the Lamb, while stirring up no shortage of controversy.
What Changes Still Lie Ahead?
In their January 17th patch notes, Massive Monster hinted that the Sins of the Flesh update is just the start when it comes to romantic relationships in Cult of the Lamb:
“This update is but the first step into relationships in Cult of the Lamb, we aren’t done yet!”
This likely refers to the fact that currently only heterosexual relationships are depicted in the mating animations and offspring generation mechanics. The developer has clarified on Twitter that they plan to add same-sex breeding functionality in a future update:
“Apologies, but due to scope Sins of Flesh is launching with only heterosexual breeding at the moment. Rest assured though that same-sex reproduction will be added soon in a patch!”
So while players must currently rely on gender-change rituals and a bit of imagination to simulate non-traditional pairings, future inclusivity fixes seem to be on the way.
The developer has also hinted on their public roadmap that larger-scale group relationships are another potential avenue for the romance system’s future evolution:
“We aren’t formally announcing anything specific yet, but players looking for even spicier and more sinful relationship options won’t be disappointed…”
So while the core Sins of the Flesh feature set is now live and in players’ hands, Massive Monster apparently still has plenty of other scandalous ideas they hope to implement around relationships and reproduction. It remains to be seen just how far down this particular rabbit hole they intend to go.
The Bigger Picture
Video game romances and sex as gameplay features are far from unprecedented. Franchises like The Sims, Stardew Valley, Dragon Age and Mass Effect have included relationship mechanics for years. However, these dynamics being implemented so overtly in a dark, satirical cult management game aimed at mainstream platforms is arguably more unusual.
To an extent, the Sins of the Flesh update seems to represent part of a broader trend towards allowing more adult themes in high profile indie titles. Recent games like Hades and God of War take a notably mature approach to (heterosexual) romantic relationships. Cyberpunk 2077 features on-screen full-frontal nudity and sexual encounters. So Cult of the Lamb adding sexual content could be viewed as the product of a gradually normalizing tendency.
That said, the lambs remain adorable cartoon animals rather than realistic human models. And the actual occult procedings of the cult provide an element of tongue-in-cheek contrast with the otherwise mundane domestic activities. So in style and execution, Massive Monster still defines its own unique (and somewhat bizarre) niche.
Ultimately the Cult of the Lamb player base remains divided in its assessments of Sins of the Flesh as either a bold step forward, an unnecessary distraction, or somewhere in between. But with plans for even more relationship-based features down the line, it’s clear the introduction of romantic dynamics is far more than a one-off gimmick for Massive Monster. Love it or hate it, Cult dating is here to stay.
Summary of Key Sins of the Flesh Features
|Followers form relationships, fall in love/break up
|Unlocks hookup mechanic for romantic couples
|Couples can get pregnant and produce children
|Followers now eventually die of old age
|Gender Change Ritual
|Allows altering a follower’s gender presentation
|New Follower Outfits
|Over a dozen outfit options added
|Occasionally have conversations without player prompting
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