There is just something inherently curious about the idea of cults, whether you are looking to learn more about the nature of such extreme organisations, or find yourself somehow knee-deep within them. It is probably why when Devolver Digital and Massive Monster revealed Cult of the Lamb; it caught the eyes of many. Here is a roguelite action-adventure experience that was all about building your own cult, albeit led by a furry avatar looking to lead its anthropomorphic followers – what’s not to like?
The fact is, there is truly very little to dislike about Cult of the Lamb, where almost every facet of the game puts us deeper under its spell. The premise places players in control of a lamb set to be sacrificed in a ritual to bind the being known only as The One Who Waits, only to be saved from death by the very malevolent deity.
Now, revenge is your main driver, and only by bringing together followers of the same ilk and banishing the four bishops who dared to threaten your life, can your debt be repaid.
If you have been searching for the lovechild of the stupendous games that are Hades and Stardew Valley, then Cult of the Lamb is the perfect panacea, combining addictive gameplay loops with an unassuming charm that just works to perfection.
Between caring for your followers and the site where the cult is situated, to going on Crusades and exploring what this world has to offer, every moment in Cult of the Lamb leads to progression and incentives, fuelling the mindset of doing just one more thing and finding it almost impossible to put down.
To help your cult flourish, you are going to need resources and upgrades, and Crusades are your best bet. Each Crusade features randomly generated levels, multiple paths of different rewards, challenges, and events, as well as a healthy assortment of creatures that are foolishly standing in your way.
Ultimately, it is the player’s decision to decide the path ahead, and depending on your needs, you might prioritise rescuing a new follower over lumber or stone, or chasing after as much violence as possible for cash and bones.
Each level will have rooms that usually require combat, and as a lamb powered by evil, players can attack with their weapons, use curses, and roll to dodge attacks. And each Crusade will see random rolls for weapons and curses, so don’t grow too attached to the vampiric sword you currently have or the tentacles curse that can help close the gap; being flexible makes you a better cult leader in Cult of the Lamb.
Fight your way to the end of the Crusade, and face off with the more challenging mini-bosses, and eventually, one of the four conniving Bishops. These encounters are obviously more difficult, and although your skills with weapons and curses are always handy, the odds might be stacked against you unless you count on your cult and followers.
This is where building up the infrastructure to support your quest feeds into the gameplay loop, with your followers being a key part of the plan. For starters, followers can help out with chores around the site, harvesting resources and helping out with construction. Things that open up further with new systems such as devotion, loyalty, and their needs such as hunger and rest come into play.
Every new building has a purpose, and by committing fully to this process of serving your flock, the benefits are worthwhile both in the present and the future. Let your followers sleep and eat well, let them pray and preach sermons to them to gain devotion and unlock more upgrades, and so on and so forth.
There are also Doctrines and Rituals to consider in Cult of the Lamb, with the former dictating cult-wide effects such as making sacrifices a common sight or opening up the option of marrying followers to ensure faith in the cult, while the latter can provide short-term benefits to meet the needs of your cult better.
And the more you invest in your cult and followers, the more they become invaluable and self-sufficient, supporting your cause on the Crusades and making sure the lamb always has a home to come back to.
All of these systems work almost flawlessly together, making every moment in Cult of the Lamb rewarding but more importantly, utterly enjoyable. There’s always progress to be seen whether it is in your infrastructure, your followers, or the tools in which to make your Crusades more effective.
This gameplay is masterfully crafted to keep you always moving in the right direction, and even if you are not the type of player who likes farming sims or caring for a flock, the benefits and the general presentation of Cult of the Lamb definitely provide a more enticing proposition than more.
Of course, life is not perfect even in the idealised world of cults, especially if you are not a fan of the very nature of roguelites. There will be instances where the combinations of curses and weapons have you ill-equipped to deal with a particular biome and its enemies, which can be frustrating, but it is simply teething pains that investment in your cult should solve.
One problem that doesn’t have an elegant solution is that of hygiene, where your followers have to poop every once in a while to keep themselves happy. Cleaning up poop is not exactly the best way to spend time, but if you want to prevent sickness, the job has to be done, and at least the poop can be used as fertiliser for your crops.
The fact is that even when Cult of the Lamb presents certain issues, it is hardly ever long-lasting or impairs you from enjoying the gameplay loop for a significant amount of time. By bringing together the enjoyable elements of farm sims and action-adventure roguelites and creating an environment where they enrich each other, this game is simply one for the ages. Taking care of others and slaying all those that oppose your way of life never felt this great, and that is the magic of this particular cult that should attract everyone and anyone.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Committing to the evil idea of cults with a healthy dash of goofiness and complementary gameplay systems that are a delight, Cult of the Lamb has everything it needs to cast a spell on everyone.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Story - 8/10
Presentation - 9.5/10
Value - 9/10