Title: Cult of the Lamb
Run time: 15-20 hours (played – 10 hours)
Who’s involved: Massive Monster (developer); Devolver Digital (publisher)
Where: Playstation, XBox Games, Microsoft, Steam, Nintendo
Rating: 4.5/5 – Indoctrinatingly good
Cult of the Lamb shouldn’t work.
Nearly everything about the game feels like it’s at odds. The adorable and charming art style clashes with the gory and horrifying visuals. The Animal Crossing-style village management gameplay clashes with the Binding of Isaac-style rogue-like gameplay.
The game stands in stark contrast to Massive Monster’s previous title. The upbeat side-scrolling adventure platformer The Adventure Pals is absolutely nothing like Cult of the Lamb.
Despite these clashing elements, Cult of the Lamb is a unique and fun experience that is near-impossible to put down.
Players are put in control of a lamb that is about to be sacrificed so that the god – known only as The One Who Waits – can never be freed.
After the sacrifice is completed, The One Who Waits resurrects the lamb and tells it to go forth and build a cult in the god’s name so they can be risen again.
The game is divided into two forms of gameplay. The rogue-like sections see players fight through different rooms, gathering supplies, and recruiting cultists. The village management section sees players build up their cult town using supplies gained from runs in the rogue-like section.
If either of these gameplay sections felt more important than the other, the game wouldn’t flow naturally. Thankfully, everything players do in one section helps make the other one better.
The village management section is complex enough without being overwhelming. Players use collected resources to build their cult town and keep their cultists healthy, well fed, and faithful. If they are, players use the faith of the cultists to give them access to things that help them both in the village, such as stone mines, beds and outhouses, and on their crusades, such as better weapons and extra life.
However, if the cultists aren’t taken care of, there can be severe consequences such as sickness, starvation, or dissent. Players can remedy this by sending their sick cultists to rest for a few days, cooking up some meals to feed their hungry cultists, and imprisoning the dissenters to “re-educate” them.
Players can also perform rituals for different effects.
Don’t have enough food to keep your cultists well fed? Perform a fasting ritual! Cultists won’t go hungry for three days while you gather extra food.
Are the cultists losing faith? Perform a bonfire ritual and dance the night away to lift their spirits.
Is a dissenting cultist spreading lies and slander about their glorious leader? Well then, a little bit of sacrifice couldn’t hurt. Silence them while pleasing The One Who Waits feels like the cherry on top.
The rogue-like section is simple enough, but still fun. Crusades see players fight various creatures using different types of weapons that they find, and curses change each run. Dodge rolls I found were the best way to move away from incoming projectiles.
Players can also find “tarot cards”, which have passive bonuses for each run. These can include extra health, faster attack speed or higher chances for a critical hit among others.
These sections culminate in a boss fight that is a tougher version of one of the creatures you find along the way.
If players die during the run, they lose a third of the resources that they collected, and the faith of the cultists takes a significant hit.
While Cult of the Lamb is near perfect, some elements can be frustrating.
It can sometimes be difficult to see all the enemies you’re fighting, which means you can be hit by something you didn’t realise was there.
The village management section can also be extremely time-consuming in the early stages, with menial tasks like levelling up the faith of the cultists and cleaning up their excrement until an outhouse is built.
Players can also easily find themselves in a situation where they have completely levelled up their cult town long before completing the rogue-like sections. This results in the player feeling like they aren’t working towards anything when they go out on their runs.
However, none of this distracts from the fact that ultimately Cult of the Lamb is an outstanding game that deserves all of the praise it’s seen. It’s an extremely entertaining experience that shouldn’t be passed up.
So sit back, relax and allow yourself to be brainwashed into the Cult of the Lamb.