Cult of the Lamb Review – The Lamb is Love, The Lamb is Life
Title: Cult of the Lamb
Developer: Massive Monster
Release Date: August 11, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developed by Massive Monster, Cult of the Lamb sees you play as a Lamb who is executed by four bishops seconds into the game. But, he is soon revived by a demon god known as The One Who Waits, who sets the Lamb off with a mission: to create a cult and release him from his prison.
Throughout Cult of the Lamb, the Lamb must travel through four parts of a place known as the Lands of the Old Faith and kill the four bishops that initially executed him. Doing so releases a chain that will eventually free The One Who Waits. And along the way, gain followers for your new cult in the process.
The game doesn’t shy away from its cute story-like environment to show its violent side as you face various monsters that attempt to prevent you from finishing your quest to summon your god.
This is where the roguelike gameplay shines as you slash and shoot your way through randomly generated areas completing quests and finding resources to expand your cult. The Lamb can wield melee weapons found at the beginning of every run, such as axes or daggers, as well as curses, which serve as ranged weapons that shoot out bullets known as fervor which represents your anger or summon eldritch tentacles to cause damage.
However, this game is challenging, and you’ll be dodge-rolling enemy attacks during each encounter. Luckily, the fantastic, catchy soundtrack by artist River Boy makes each run epic. Don’t feel too bad if you die, given that quests from allies give you to improve your cult, and resources found during gameplay open possibilities to get further without dying. Meeting other terrified animals allows you to add them to your cult. This can be done by rescuing them from other cultists or from a hungry spider named Helob, but only if you give him the right amount of coins.
The sim system is where you create a village for your cultists and name it whatever you want. You can also customize each cultist by changing their color and species, such as turning a donkey into a strange tree person with horns or decorating them with face paintings. Each cultist joining your Village is vital to strengthening your character as they have unique traits that can be helpful or a hindrance for you, such as giving you extra faith or having a higher chance of getting sicker than other villagers.
Your cultists also have needs, such as hunger and health, which determines their faith in you. Likewise, faith is needed to get skill points known as divine inspiration, which allows you to gain upgrades for your Village. On the fashionable side of things, you can craft fleece coats that provide benefits, such as giving you double damage for curse attacks, but there are always downsides, such as melee weapons and health getting halved.
Being a leader also comes with choices where you can sacrifice a Cultist for an extra life after death or be able to return to your Village. If a cultist’s faith gets low enough, they’ll see you as weak and eventually become opposed to your teachings and leave your cult.
Should they plan to do that, you can either slowly re-educate them about your teachings, or if you’re impatient, you can send them to prison or sacrifice them for more power. As the game progresses, you will be given more extreme actions in dealing with troublesome cultists.
There are various ways for your cultists to continue supporting you as a leader soon after you’ve found your Village. First, you build a Church that you can use to perform rituals and sermons to raise your cultist’s faith in you all at once and gain enough devotion to get divine inspiration. You will also build a Shrine that your cultists can worship at, where you gain upgrades needed for your Village.
Eventually, you’ll find pieces of stone that allow you to create a commandment that opens a new doctrine used to gain interactions with cultists and new rituals. You must also ensure that your cultists are well fed and healthy, as they will eventually starve to death if they’re not fed enough.
Their carcasses, as well as the various feces you’ll find throughout your Village, will disgust your fellow cultists and make them sick, which also risks killing them if you don’t find a way to treat their illnesses. You can have your cultists take breaks and get some sleep. While doing so temporarily causes less work around the Village, it will also improve their loyalty towards you.
The more a cultist’s loyalty towards you increases, the more devotion you get from them when you perform a sermon, as well as more commands that you can give to your cultists that get more extreme and may result in your dedicated followers’ death by trying to please you. You can also bless a cultist once per in-game day or give them gifts you can find throughout the Old Faith to further increase their loyalty.
During your travels in the Old Faith, you’ll encounter some NPCs that will help you in your quest to free the One Who Waits. One of them is the aforementioned cultist seller Helob and Claunuck. This mysterious merchant specializes in tarot cards that will improve your runs, such as giving you extra health or the chance to heal faster, and Kudaai, a weapons and curse merchant. You can also trade for rare fish with a Fisherman after doing some fishing for them, who will give you pieces of a holy talisman in return.
However, Ratau, a fox with one eye, will help teach you how to raise your Village and use the various weapons and curses you unlock throughout each run. Later, with him, you can go to his house to play the classic dice game, Knucklebones.
As you venture through, you’ll eventually come across some glitches. However, they only hinder your progress for a few minutes at best and only occur when you’re playing with a keyboard and mouse instead of a controller. So expect things like your weapons being swung in the wrong direction and how it takes a few tries to move a dialog box or interact with an object.
Cult of the Lamb has the addictive nature of most roguelike titles that will cause you to burn off several hours of the day. You’ll slowly hunt down heretic rivals through roguelike mechanics with the added layer the customization found in the village sim systems. As you keep the cultists satisfied, their loyalty grows, and you’ll fight the urge to become the twisted being who executed our poor lamb that started this adventure.
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