Cult of the Lamb
“Cult of the Lamb excels as a darkly comedic management game, though its roguelite component commits some cardinal sins.”
Excellent camp administration
Intricate, interlinking techniques
Clever use of cult tropes
Weak roguelite motion
Hard to gauge hitboxes
For an excellent chunk of my Cult of the Lamb playthrough, I used to be an ideal chief. My flock of woodland cultists was residing in concord, merrily displaying their devotion to a monstrous god. Then got here the lumber scarcity. Within just a few days, dissent began to stir in my ranks as I used to be unable to repair damaged beds. By the time I harvested sufficient wooden to repair the issue, I wanted to make use of it to assemble a jail as an alternative. It turned out that the road between paradise and nightmare was mighty skinny.
Cult of the Lamb explores that balancing act via a darkly comedic premise pulled straight from the golden age of the corporate Newgrounds. It’s a hellishly addictive administration recreation that revels in its spiritual farce like cultists prancing round a bonfire. But like my uneven stint as a frontrunner, it struggles to totally pull off the advanced style juggling act it units out to attain.
A significantly better administration sim than it’s a roguelite, Cult of the Lamb is at its finest when it’s a bizarro world model of Animal Crossing (with extra satanic rituals). I simply wished I might order my followers to do my dungeon crawling chores for me.
Tending the flock
In Cult of the Lamb, gamers take management of an harmless lamb who will get suckered into operating a cult for a chained god. The woolly hero is tasked with constructing a functioning commune, changing different animals into followers, and killing 4 rival gods which can be conserving its grasp imprisoned. It’s a zany premise that simply so occurs to be an ideal administration sim setup, one which’s loaded with interlinking economies and robust development hooks.
As my followers generated devotion by praying at my camp’s central shrine, I might use that useful resource to unlock constructions that might be constructed with the wooden and stone mendacity round. Within an hour, I had some rudimentary beds for my followers, farm plots to develop meals, a cooking station, and a temple to evangelise from. Like an efficient preacher, Cult of the Lamb is at all times instructing one thing new, slowly making the every day routine busier with out feeling immediately overwhelming.
Every resolution performs an necessary position within the camp. Installing an outhouse stops followers from pooping within the grass, which might sow discontent amongst simply grossed-out animals. Once arrange, that waste could be collected from the lavatory and used to fertilize crops. Those crops flip into elements that can be utilized to prepare dinner meals, conserving everybody fed and blissful — except you resolve to prepare dinner a meal with that feces as an alternative. That degree of intricacy runs via each system, permitting you to create a purposeful (or dysfunctional, if you happen to so select) society.
What’s particularly spectacular is that this is just one layer of the administration sim. On high of these common city-builder hooks, the sport’s spiritual premise brings additional depth. You’re not simply managing residing situations and starvation; you’re making an attempt to max out your flock’s devotion and harvest it like a useful resource. Perform a sermon and also you’ll get foreign money that allows you to purchase everlasting upgrades for the sport’s fight part. Hold a ritual to bless the ocean and also you’ll be capable to get a bigger haul if you go fishing (conversely, you may declare a quick, which is able to decrease the commune’s devotion however hold them from going hungry because it freezes their starvation meter). Faith is as a lot of a useful resource as wooden, which is maybe the sport’s toothiest morsel of non secular satire.
Cult of the Lamb surprisingly stands hoof-to-hoof with extra “serious” systems-heavy video games like Frostpunk.
My favourite piece of the sport’s huge net of techniques comes within the type of doctrines. After amassing three pill shards, gamers get to place a brand new regulation into movement. That lets them form what sort of cult they wish to run, whether or not it’s benevolent or fearful. In my cult, I decreed that my followers can be grass eaters, permitting them to eat meals product of grass with out making them query their devotion. Later, I decreed that I might shake followers down for a tithe any time I needed. Each decree riffs on completely different cult tropes, adapting them into impactful (and darkly hilarious) gameplay choices.
That’s not even the underside of the barrel. I might go on about villager traits, quests, perk-granting necklaces, and extra. For one thing that appears like a cartoon gimmick, Cult of the Lamb surprisingly stands hoof-to-hoof with extra “serious” systems-heavy video games like Frostpunk.
If the administration sim is an angel on Cult of the Lamb’s shoulder, its rouglite component is its satan. There’s an motion element on the middle of the sport, the place gamers set out on expeditions to kill these 4 gods. Like different video games within the style, gamers battle via a procedurally assembled set of rooms to slay one boss at a time. But like gardening or mining for stone, it’s extra of a chore than something.
There aren’t many compelling assessments of talent in a run, even in boss fights.
When I say “roguelite,” the emphasis is on the lite. Rather than doing one huge run, gamers full straightforward micro-expeditions that normally take 5 to 10 minutes to finish. That’s nice for individuals who discover video games like Dead Cells too imposing, nevertheless it limits the attraction of the style. For occasion, a lot of the fun of video games like Hades comes from experimenting with builds every run. Cult of the Lamb’s runs are so quick and devoid of significant perks that I by no means bought the sensation that I used to be developing a robust toolset. Tarot playing cards, the sport’s model of relics, are likely to solely grant boring boosts like including a half coronary heart of well being or upping assault power by a hair.
Weapons are equally missing. There are just a few weapon varieties within the recreation’s pool and a few courses to unlock (like vampiric weapons), however nothing actually modifications the best way I strategy a room. Every single one is a close-range melee weapon that has me hammering the X button to let loose the identical quick combo. The solely distinction is weapon velocity, with slower weapons merely feeling disadvantageous as a consequence of enemy assault velocity.
There aren’t many compelling assessments of talent in a run, even in boss fights. Whether it’s a sub-boss or the massive dangerous of a biome, fights are issues of straightforward sample recognition and bullet-hell dodging. That makes the sport way more pleasant for individuals who hate bashing their head in opposition to a wall, nevertheless it’s missing an excellent counterbalance to maintain runs attention-grabbing. After dozens of runs, I needed I might discover a approach to assign a follower to do the soiled work for me.
I wouldn’t describe any of this as dangerous; it’s completely superb hack-and-slash gameplay. It simply pales subsequent to the intricate cult administration, feeling like a tithe it’s worthwhile to pay to benefit from the recreation.
Cult of persona
Cult of the Lamb’s most instantly notable characteristic is its cartoon artwork model, which nearly makes it appear like a grown-up flash recreation. The colourful and cuddly visuals give the sport its demented darkish edge à la Happy Tree Friends. It’s a simple to adore aesthetic, although I did discover that the just about Paper Mario-like look made it tough to gauge enemy hitboxes throughout battle.
I want the expertise had extra enamel as a piece of satire.
The cute visuals make for some enjoyable dissonance when performing a blood sacrifice, however I want the expertise had extra enamel as a piece of satire. Despite all of the references to cult clichés, the sport by no means has a lot to say in regards to the factor it’s lampooning. It’s largely performed for straightforward sight gags, which is shocking contemplating that it appears to have an actual bone to choose with blind devotion. The central story heads towards a reasonably apparent conclusion from the get-go, one that just about absolves gamers of any sins they’ve dedicated alongside the best way.
There’s nonetheless that inherent spiritual satire to its useful resource administration, nevertheless it nearly feels simpler as a darkly comedic Animal Crossing parody. Are the 2 video games so completely different? Both have gamers making a comfortable village for lovable woodland creatures, adorning the city to boost happiness and declaring ordinances. The solely distinction is the presence of god, which distorts the happy-go-lucky paradise right into a Midsommar-type state of affairs.
Cult of the Lamb might have dug the sacrificial knife in somewhat deeper, nevertheless it nonetheless will get sufficient of the jugular.
Cult of the Lamb excels at delivering a multilayered administration sim that makes use of its cult premise as way more than a twisted gimmick. It’s solely let down by its middling roguelite gameplay, which appears to overlook what makes the style so interesting. Its satire might stand to be extra direct, nevertheless it nonetheless takes sufficient pointed stabs at spiritual cults by turning devotion into an expendable useful resource. Pearls will probably be clutched.
Is there a greater different?
If you desire a genre-bending roguelike that offers you extra to do between runs, Hades is the gold normal. Moonlighter additionally fuses rouglite motion and administration pretty nicely.
How lengthy will it final?
That is determined by which problem degree you choose, however a medium playthrough took me round 12 hours to finish.
Should you purchase it?
Yes. Even if it doesn’t nail the roguelite style, Cult of the Lamb is an addictive administration recreation for the heretics on the market.
Cult of the Lamb was reviewed utilizing a PC model operating on Steam Deck.