Cult of the Lamb composer River Boy on the music that inspired the game's unique, vibey soundtrack

By Andy Kelly

If you've played Cult of the Lamb, you've almost certainly fallen in love with its music. The genius behind this wonderfully dark, bouncy soundtrack is sonic wizard River Boy, who mixes vibey synths, chopped up vocal samples, and bassy trap beats to delicious effect. No other video game sounds like Cult of the Lamb, and the music a big part of what makes Massive Monster's devilishly cute sacrifice-'em-up so memorable. River Boy's style is very much his own, but like any musician, there are other artists that influence him. Here, in his own words, are some of the tracks that inspired his work on the game.

Clams Casino — All I need / Listen

"I adore the way Clams cuts vocals. There’s a darkness to this track but it’s also beautiful, haunting, and dream-like. This type of 'cloud rap' beat is a big influence on the Cult of the Lamb score."

Salem — King Night / Listen

"There’s a dark biblical tone in this song I wanted to capture in the Cult of the Lamb. I wish Salem didn’t go so heavy on the distortion as it makes the track a little unlistenable, but the vibe is definitely there."

Fever Ray — Concrete Walls / Listen

"Fever Ray and The Knife use vocal processing across most of their work. I credit them for influencing the manipulated vocals I use in a lot of the Cult of the Lamb's boss tracks. I also find this track's sparseness really appealing. There aren’t many elements but they all work together really well."

Rob D — Clubbed to Death / Listen

"There’s this sample used at 1:04 that sounds like a squeaky door hinge. I’ve always loved it and I use similar sounds in Saleos."

XXXTENTACION — Moonlight / Listen

"The beat is perfect imo. It hits that trappy bounce so well. Super minimal. We got an 808, harp, and drums. I love the philosophy of only having a few elements but each one being interesting and intricate."

Doseone — Lead Lords Keep / Listen

"Massive Monster suggested this track as an energy level reference for the dungeon crawling in Cult of the Lamb. Saviour takes cues from it. I initially struggled to write high energy combat tracks and I found this reference quite helpful."

Little Simz — Dead Body / Listen

"Such a dank track. Simz sounds like a witch rapping on this beat. The track is a reference for its dark feel, heavy bass, and drums."

The Knife — Colouring of Pigeons / Listen

"The way that vocals are used as instruments in this track is a big inspiration. They start in a simple rhythm but work their way into these interesting polyrhythms. Wordless and rhythmic aaahs, ooohs, and eeehs are all across the Cult of the Lamb score."

Shlomo — The End / Listen

"I’m inspired by this track's bass and degraded drums. Just dank dark trap vibes."

Sleepy Fish — For When It’s Warmer / Listen

"The Cult of the Lamb base area takes inspo from this type of beat. I wanted something that adds vibe and movement without being distracting. Exactly like those YouTube 'lo-fi beats to study to' playlists."

Here's a Spotify playlist we put together of (almost) all of the above tracks, with some choice cuts from the Cult of the Lamb OST thrown in for good measure. Prefer the reassuring permanence of physical media? Why not treat yourself to the Cult of the Lamb deluxe double vinyl. Praise the Lamb!

Gris, a Viral Reddit Post, and Community Passion: How the Fans Made Us Do Better

By Thomas Schulenberg

The passion of fans is at the core of everything we do. It’s the force behind wonderful things like the incredible cosplay, art and game tributes we’re regularly blown away by, and it’s an invaluable inspiration for us and the creators we work with to elevate our craft along with the world’s finest double butthole jokes - but in this story, community passion is a powerful teacher of lessons.

Back at PAX West 2018, Devolver Digital brought the beautifully realized Gris to Seattle, giving fans a chance to play the massively anticipated, breathtaking game ahead of launch. Devolver Digital fans have excellent taste, so it’s no surprise that the Gris booth was bumpin’; the game drew a long queue for the entire weekend, with folks patiently waiting for their turn to play. 

Gris had only three playable stations to accommodate the entirety of PAX West though, including the wall-to-wall appointments we booked with reporters for preview articles and developer interviews, which are often a bigger deal for justifying travel costs than they may seem (shows of any kind are expensive, y’all). We added a sign (seen at the top of this article) to one of our stations designating it as a “press priority station” - a gentle way of warning fans their demo might be cut short so that we could accommodate our full schedule of appointments - but the sign wasn’t visible enough, and having your demo abruptly end doesn’t feel good after waiting more than an hour to play, even when you know the interruption is coming.

The fans we explained the scenario to were kind and understanding, but the setup was a recipe for frustration and confusion which quickly came to a head: someone posted a photo of the booth on Reddit, claiming the picture showed a fan who had been booted from playing to accommodate a media appointment. At a glance, it was easy to immediately feel for this wronged fan, perceiving their facial expression as total disappointment that they couldn’t keep playing. 

The backlash mounted as quickly as the upvotes. The community’s empathy poured out for the wronged fan, with comments tagging Devolver Digital and developer Nomada Studio to share their disappointment. It’s totally reasonable for fans to voice respectful disagreement like this to a team when it seems they’ve missed the mark. The thing is, the person in the photo commenters were defending wasn’t a fan - it was the game’s developer. They were standing beside the media appointment to field questions as the reporter played, and their expression was misunderstood.

After much explanation across Reddit and Twitter, the confusion was cleared up - but the kerfuffle made it exceedingly obvious that we had work to do. We never want fans to feel secondary, especially when they take time out of their week to visit our booth. Even though the photo’s moment was misunderstood, the frustration it represented was likely felt by a few of our guests that weekend. And quite frankly, dear reader, that sucked to realize.

The crew at Devolver Digital reflected on this, and it fully shifted how we now accommodate fans for demos, fist bumps or cult initiations as we greet folks at PAXs and everywhere else. The appointments we can’t miss during all too rare in-person gatherings no longer solely rely on the same demo stations fans are waiting for, and press and partners who stop by aren’t racked with guilt from having to cut in front of literal children waiting to play a game. The bottom line is we’re offering a better experience for everyone now, and all it took to have this epiphany was a good thrashing from the internet - a fair, thoughtful critique from fans who, at the end of the day, share our goal of lining Fork Parker’s pockets with as much dough as possible. Is there a greater unifying mission out there?

Thank you for helping us do better, and we’ll see you and your wallet on the road at the next event.

Game: GRIS

Twitch streamers become Terra Nil Tree Warriors

By Jess Morrison

Tune in to participating Terra Nil streams across Twitch from March 27 to April 3, use custom-made tree emotes to plant trees in chat, and we’ll plant trees out in the world on each community's behalf.

Update - April 4, 2023: The campaign has run its course, and 51 Twitch streamers have helped plant over 45,000 trees worldwide. Check a look at the Terra Nil Tree Warriors forest and impact charts. And thanks to you for watching.

In celebration of Terra Nil’s launch on March 28, Devolver Digital and Free Lives have partnered with environmentally conscious Twitch streamers to create a unique streamer forest at Tree Nation and help make the world a bit greener. Plant trees in participating streamers' chats using custom-made emotes and we’ll plant real trees in the world on their behalf as part of the Terra Nil Tree Warriors forest.

The streamer forest is at its budding stage right now and will grow over the course of the campaign as participating Terra Nil streams complete their community tree planting goals. You can also contribute to the forest directly by making a personal donation.

When and where to watch

The campaign will run from March 27 to April 3 at the following Twitch channels. All you have to do is join their Terra Nil streams and plant trees in chat by using their custom tree emotes liberally. When they hit their community emote goals, we'll plant €500 worth of trees in real life for them in our Terra Nil Tree Warriors forest. Start watching and plant away!

Free Lives will also be donating 8% of Steam sales profits to Endangered Wildlife Trust, so you can support even more environmental causes by watching any Terra Nil stream and spreading the word. Looking forward to seeing all of you planting a lush, glorious forest both digitally and physically!

About Tree Nation

Tree Nation is on a mission to plant 1 trillion trees by 2050, and they’re well on their way with over 29 million trees (and counting) currently planted worldwide. In their own words: “Our mission is to reforest the world. Planting trees has been proven to be one of the most efficient solutions to fight climate change.”

About Terra Nil

Terra Nil is a peaceful, beautiful, and deeply satisfying experience, and you can begin your journey of wasteland reclamation on mobile (via Netflix) and PC on March 28.

Beginning with pre-orders and continuing after launch, Free Lives will be donating a portion of the profits from sales of Terra Nil on Steam to the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Devolver Flashback: The Red Strings Club

By Andy Kelly

Welcome to Devolver Flashback, a new series of blogs in which we go spelunking in the deep, dank caverns of our back catalogue and pluck out one of the many gems sparkling in the gloom. This week, booze-soaked cyberpunk adventure The Red Strings Club.

Five years ago, Spanish indie geniuses Deconstructeam served me a cocktail I'll never forget. The Red Strings Club is part bartending sim, part existential rumination on the nature of being. One minute you're mixing a drink, the next you're wrestling with challenging ethical conundrums about humanity, privacy, artificial intelligence, and other thought-provoking topics. It's pretty intense, but any cyberpunk story worth its cyber-implants should be.

Sure, there are neon-lit cityscapes and impeccably-dressed hackers in The Red Strings Club. It even has a brilliantly moody, brooding synth soundtrack courtesy of Paula 'Fingerspit' Ruiz. But while some cyberpunk games are content to stop there, Deconstructeam goes deeper, pushing beyond the superficial. The result is a game that isn't just cool as hell, but one that's intellectually nourishing as well. When the credits roll, you're gonna need a lie down.

As Donovan, proprietor of the titular Red Strings Club, you mix cocktails to tap into people's emotions and extract information from them. As Akara-184, an android capable of empathy, you sculpt bio-implants with a pottery wheel-like device to improve people's lives. As hacker Brandeis you mimic voices over the phone to play people against each other.

But as fun as these interactive minigames are (I'll never get tired of hearing the clink of an ice cube when I drop it into a glass), it's not long before The Red Strings Club has you questioning yourself and your actions. Manipulating these people, whether through booze or advanced bio-technology, will challenge the morality of all but the most unfeeling of human husks. Some of these tough moral quandaries may even make you feel uncomfortable.

But that's Deconstructeam for you. This is a developer that wants you to think big thoughts and feel big feelings, and The Red Strings club certainly fulfils that brief. The game's evocative, compelling script was written by Jordi de Paco, with art direction by pixel artist extraordinaire Marina González, whose vivid visual imagination and eye for colour sets this cyberpunk setting apart from other examples of the genre. Some people are just too talented.

The game's mix of bartending, pottery, and social engineering is, let's be real, super weird. When I ask Jordi where the idea came from, he admits that Deconstructeam wouldn't have thought to combine these elements independently. It happened because the studio already had prototypes of each of these minigames, which were then combined, given a cyberpunk makeover, linked with a narrative, and turned into what we now know as The Red Strings Club.

This is a game that was made quickly on a low budget by a tiny team, and was a mish-mash of existing gameplay prototypes, but you'd never know. It's so confidently made and clear in its vision that you'd think the idea appeared fully formed. The Red Strings Club is available now on PC and Switch, and is a must play for anyone who loves point-and-click adventures, branching narratives, or deliciously dark visions of the future. I'll drink to that.

Oh no, they have a blog now

By Tena Žigmundovac

Welcome to the Devolver Digital blog, fresh outta keyboards of Devolver’s biggest blabbermouths!

We have imagined this space as a clothes line where we air all our dirty, dirty Devolver laundry. Whether it’s the latest news on our current and upcoming games, weird insights on our previous titles, or behind-the-schemes discussing the work that goes into creating a Devolver-published masterpiece, we’ll try to give you a wide variety of fine reading material to choose from and discuss with your therapist.

Not to be braggy, but we have been blessed to work with some of the best developers making some of the most original games in the world, so why not take advantage of that, stick around for a bit, and take a peek into the weird and wonderful world of Devolver?

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