‘Worship of the Lamb’ and the bleating heart of nihilism

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NEW YORK (CNS) — Adorable woodland creatures mingle with sinister elements in this roguelike action-adventure game from developer Massive Monster and published by Devolver Digital.

But despite its cute illustrations or engaging gameplay, “Worship of the Lamb” draws on religious imagery and subverts it, giving the game an overall dark theme that should give parents pause before buying it for their kids.

In the realm of the old faith, four monstrous creatures called “bishops” have hunted all the lambs to ward off a prophecy that states that a lamb will release “He Who Waits”, another entity the bishops are holding captive.

The last existing lamb is about to be sacrificed by the cult that follows the Old Faith and thus aims to thwart the prophecy forever.

However, He Who Waits manages to save the lamb and bring it back to life. In exchange, the entity asks “Lamb” to create a cult in its name and destroy the bishops of the Old Faith, as each holds a chain keeping the Waiting One bound in his prison.

Lamb agrees to the terms and receives a red crown, which allows him to travel great distances using marks on the ground, namely pentagrams. Guided by a mentor rat named Ratou, the fluffy, wide-eyed protagonist arrives on safe ground and begins to work on growing the cult.

Other animals can be rescued from where they too await sacrifice in the realm of the Old Faith. These animals are then indoctrinated into the cult where they work and collect resources like wood or stone. Adepts also have unique traits, such as how easily they are affected by dissenters or how much Faith they generate.

Lamb is tasked with going on missions to find recruits and hunt down bishops, but also take care of the other disciples, preach sermons to grow faith, as well as keep them all fed and happy. And so the cult grows, bringing the protagonist closer and closer to the release of the One who waits from his prison.

But despite entertaining game mechanics, expressive combat, and rather lovable animal characters, “Cult of the Lamb” is full of dark elements that Catholics should be aware of, whether they’re parents of young gamers or adult gamers themselves. .

The main villains are known as bishops, a reference that cannot be lost on any Christian. Bishops are the shepherds of the flock of Christ, his Church. The position of a bishop is only present in real-world Christian religions.

Other symbologies such as pentagrams or inverted crosses have divergent meanings. Despite their origins as pre-Christian or early Christian images, they have recently been appropriated as symbols by modern atheists, humanists and occultists.

“Cult of the Lamb” makes no direct reference to the Devil or God, but as a modern title it’s hard to imagine the game’s developers didn’t intend to be controversial, juxtaposing symbols well-known Christians with anti-Christian symbols in popular culture.

The lamb is not portrayed as benevolent or heroic. While Lamb can choose to give followers extra food or extra rest, cult members can also be sacrificed, innocent people imprisoned, and deceased members slaughtered for meat. At best, Lamb is an anti-villain, and at worst, he’s a heartless monster in a kingdom of heartless monsters.

Whether the developers consciously meant it or not, they created a larger commentary on religion as a whole with “Cult of the Lamb” – a commentary steeped in spiritual nihilism. The bishops of the old faith and their followers are undoubtedly evil.

Still, Lamb and He Who Waits can be just as wicked. The supposed savior of innocent woodland creatures is less of a hero and more of a regime change, not necessarily for the better. The only difference between the two religious diets is that Lamb is cute and fluffy – a grim reminder for adults that looks can be deceiving.

Lamb and his red crown may allude to martyrdom – a tale of death and resurrection as a religious savior – but if so, it’s a sad rebirth. The lamb dies and rises again, but in this new life the sweet innocence of the lamb is lost. Indeed, he may end up taking the same harmful actions as the bishops.

But even without making some of the more drastic player choices, Lamb is, ultimately, killing other cultists and the bishops. An anti-villain is still not a hero.

“Cult of the Lamb” draws on traditional Christian imagery and the reverse, but also nihilistically suggests that, regardless of the player’s choice, there are no true saviors. Good does not overcome evil — evil only overcomes and replaces another evil. No matter how things change, they ultimately stay the same. It’s just the direction that changes from time to time.

Adults, even those who are not Christians, are able to recognize that this message is false. Change can lead to good. Saviors exist, people can choose what is good over self-interest, and evil need not triumph.

From the Catholic point of view, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is our Savior, and his life-giving love triumphs over evil. But the “Worship of the Lamb” cynically suggests that this kind of thinking is self-deception.

The “worship of the lamb” has a landscape of deeper meanings that can be lost on children or impressionable adults who truly lack spiritual formation or adequate catechesis in the Catholic faith.

Adults must discern whether playing such a game will pose a risk to their spiritual well-being, but parents must stay away. Ultimately, “Cult of the Lamb” is a silly game that combines the lighthearted aspects of other management games such as “Stardew Valley” or “Animal Crossing” with a message of spiritual nihilism that is the game’s bleating heart. .darkness.

The game is playable on Playstation 4/5, Xbox One/X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC.

The Catholic News Service rating is L — limited adult audience, material whose problematic content would find many adults disturbing. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T – teens.

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