Have Devolver uncovered a masterpiece yet again, or is this game just a bit too diffi-Cult to get into? Find out in our Cult of the Lamb Review.
The year 2022 has provided indie game lovers with some good eating. Stray, Olli Olli World, Tunic, and Sifu have all been huge successes and we still have a third of the year left to go. One such publisher providing the indie game smorgasbord is Devolver Digital, who have an excellent track record in recent years providing us with smash hits like Fall Guys, Death’s Door, and Inscryption.
This time they bring us a fancy new roguelike crossed with town sim concoction called Cult of the Lamb, developed by the team at Massive Monster (located in my home city of Melbourne, Australia). Devolver seem to know their way around roguelike titles having overseen Enter/Exit the Gungeon and Loop Hero (among others).
As with most games in the roguelike genre (Hades excepted), the plot of Cult of the Lamb isn’t super deep. We are introduced to our unnamed ovine protagonist as they are being sacrificed to the four Bishops of the Old Faith. Rather than dying though, the lamb is saved by a mysterious being known only as The One Who Waits.
The Lamb is given the power to fight back against the four Bishops through the mysterious Red Crown, with the goal of defeating them to release the mutton saviour The One Who Waits.
It is a simple story, but it progresses through some difficult choices as to how you manage your followers, leading to a final decision that will alter your destiny.
Little Lamb isn’t strong enough alone and needs to recruit many followers from the ever changing dungeons of the Bishops’ realms and build up their loyalty to the cause. These followers also need a place to live, so the game is split between roguelike dungeon crawling and a dark twist on Animal Crossing-style town management.
You get to name your Town! I went with “Ewegenics”.
The roguelike portion of the game is nothing particularly new or ground-breaking for the genre. At the entrance of the dungeon you will be provided with one weapon and one spell. Occasionally, some alternative options may appear through the dungeons, but you can only ever have one weapon and spell equipped at a time (and can’t carry extras). Each time you enter a dungeon the rooms, enemies (known as Heretics), weapons and treasures are randomly generated.
To move to the next room all enemies need to be defeated, and at the end of the dungeon a boss will appear. Other than swinging your weapon and casting your one spell, the only other action that you can take is the always required and overpowered dodge-roll move that provides a short period of immunity to attacks while the roll is being completed.
In addition to the followers that can be saved, you may come across some other NPCs that will aid you on your quest. The mysterious Clauneck is probably the most helpful assistant, which is great because they are also the one you will see the most often. Clauneck will offer you the choice of two Tarot cards, which provide various perks and bonuses for your current dungeon run.
Each of the four Bishops’ dungeons need to be completed multiple times before that bishop will appear to face your themselves for a one-on-one challenge.
In terms of difficulty, if you have played a roguelike game before and feel competent with that style you may want to crank up the difficulty above normal. I played through on normal myself and only died three or four times throughout my entire play through of approximately 25 dungeon runs.
I didn’t die this time though… you should see the other guy!
Getting a bit tired of repetitive roguelike dungeon crawling? Then the Animal Crossing style town builder is a good way to break the cycle. The core loop of gathering resources and building more complex buildings to gather more types of resources is much more shallow than titles that focus on this style of gameplay. However, this is one of the parts of Cult of the Lamb that really shines. When running a Cult you need to have shrines, rituals and of course sacrifices. What you can do to your innocent little followers is dark and gruesome…and I absolutely loved it.
Providing the game with some replayability is the Doctrine system. Throughout your town building you will be provided with two options for Doctrines that you can bring to your followers. You are locked into the Traits you select through this process and no longer have the option to obtain the alternate trait. I was very happy with the majority of traits I selected, but in hindsight there are a couple of choices that I should have selected the other option.
The town building is a very important element of the game because perks you obtain here are directly related to your dungeon crawling – such as unlocking more powerful weapons/spells and increasing your starting health.
Just like the messiah, George Michaels, one said: you gotta have faith, f-faith, f-faith.
The humour of Cult of the Lamb is right up my alley and really ties the follower/town building section of the game together. You need to keep your followers happy in three different ways – keeping them fed by cooking meals, making sure that they don’t get sick by making sure you clean up all of the dead bodies and poop lying around, and ensuring that their faith in your cause stays high through holding sermons and completing rituals.
Followers will age over time and eventually you will need to make the choice of letting them die of old age, or getting some use out of them…like a sacrifice to the One Who Waits.
Also, there is a fishing minigame. Of course.
Just a fantastic experience overall, but how does it look?
One of the first things you will notice in Cult of the Lamb is the other highlight of the game – the absolutely gorgeous visual presentation. The animation here is simple but so effective in showing the love, devotion and pure fear of your followers.
I like to call this visual style, “if Satan designed Animal Crossing”.
The enemies and particularly the bosses are excellently designed, and the dungeons, whilst somewhat repetitive as you may expect from a roguelike, do look great and pass off a very creepy vibe as you delve deeper and deeper. There is no voice acting here, but the mumbles, sighs and screams of all of the characters makes it feel like they have their own language that we thankfully are provided subtitles for.
Sound effects are meaty (literally), and the soundtrack is also very good with a couple of real ear-worms that will stay with you after a long session of dungeon crawling or follower sacrificing.
I didn’t encounter any bugs of any type throughout my gameplay. The only performance issue that I came across (playing on PS5) was a short pause/freeze that would occur regularly at specific points in the game – typically when a new day was starting and when returning to the town after a dungeon run. These pauses only lasted for a few seconds each time, and never occurred during a dungeon run where they could interrupt combat, but I felt the need to mention them here – the only negative point in an otherwise very enjoyable experience.
Cult of the Lamb is yet another absolutely amazing indie game for 2022, that I am very proud to say was born in my hometown. This is a cute and psychologically disturbed experience where you take the cutest of characters through dark ordeals only to satiate the desires of the demon that saved you from death.
Tight roguelike combat crossed with town building is a genius combination and causes you to enter these loops where you want to do just one more dungeon. After that dungeon you get back to town and need to ensure your followers are still happy, fed and faithful. After that – just one more dungeon? Yes please.
I’ll drag you to hell if you don’t download and play this game right now!
It is fun to play. It is funny. It is disgusting… in the best way. An absolute pleasure to play from start to finish, around 15 hours well spent. Looking for a devilish new indie game? I strongly recommend that you join the cult.
So, why should you play it?
- Dark, Monty Python-style humour gets a laugh out of you
- You want to experience a creepy combination of two great and very different game genres
- Unique and eye-catching yet disturbing visual style
But why shouldn’t you play it?
- If you are highly religious, then some elements may rub you up the wrong way (but it’s still so fun that you should just become an apostate and join the Cult)
A review code on PlayStation 5 was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. If you enjoyed this review, please check out more of our articles and reviews here or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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