Cult of the Lamb Review – How I learned to love the Lamb

As a leader of a cult, you will find that your members are very dependent on you. People have basic needs including eating, sleeping, using the restroom, and getting medical treatment.

They may be loyal, but they also become ill, angry, and die, leaving behind a stench. Your followers may hold you in high regard, but you were saved from a huge chained beast because of an evil spell. It seems like everyone reports to someone. Why does he act this way?

His adversaries’ annihilation, of course! We have a cult to manage, so let’s go to work, you little lamb.

No, I didn’t make a mistake; as the last of your type, your adventure as head of the Cult of Lamb begins as you are death marched to a sacrificial altar. As the knife descends, you suddenly find yourself…elsewhere. You find yourself in a new role as cult leader after coming face to face with a different god than the ones who just condemned you.

Now that “The One Who Waits” has chosen you to lead the charge against his four adversaries, you may feel like the proverbial “tip of the spear.” You have made a sensible decision, having just “Yes” and “Absolutely” as alternatives.

Each of the four Bishops of the Old Faith is an animal: Bishop Heket, a multi-eyed frog beast; Bishop Kallamar, a…

Bishop Leshy, which resembles a bleeding rag wrapped around a shrub, and Shamura, who rules over the other three, defy any attempt at description. Your new god has charged you with the task of wiping them all out.

Cult of the Lamb is, at its heart, a roguelike that blends some of the finest instances of the genre into an outstanding coherent irreverently strange action title. You’ll have to face off against four bosses, but it won’t be as simple as just going outside and kicking their asses. To the contrary, you must first establish a solid foundation upon which to exert your influence, and this necessitates the recruitment of willing followers.

They may be charming tiny animals being cocooned by a spider who is prepared to sell them to you, forest creatures set to be sacrificed, or a member of your cult who is grateful to you for saving their life. Your boss is just a charming little creature in a possessed body; a form they will gladly shed once you give them a good thrashing.

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As soon as you go back to your safe place, the rescued animals will be waiting for you to start the indoctrination process. Like a genuine cult, you may now manipulate every facet of their lives. Everything about them is unique, down to their name, look, color, and form, with the exception of personality qualities like nervousness or illness susceptibility.

You’ll then decide how they can best help the cult. They may serve you by praying to a god, cultivating crops, chopping wood, and extracting minerals.

The key to accessing your Divine Inspirations is collecting worship. Equipment for your minions may range from simple items like sleeping bags and agricultural plots to more complex structures like refineries, healing bays, and fertilizer silos and fancier outhouses at the highest tiers.

There are a total of four levels, allowing you plenty of room to play about and make your safe haven as efficient as possible.

There are four exits from your safe haven, each one symbolizing one of the gods you must vanquish. When compared to another enjoyable roguelike released recently, Moonlighter, this one is quite similar. Enter the building, and you’ll be given weapons and curses at random to use in your work.

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An example of this would be the Bane Dagger I, which has a low damage output but makes up for its limited range by being very fast and having a chance of poisoning the victim. With Divine Blast I, I’ll do damage and knock back nearby foes. However, you won’t have to rely only on these weapons since you’ll also come across lots of Tarot Cards.

You’ll come to a crossroads sometime throughout the level’s progression. You’ll be presented with a map in the style of Slay the Spire, and depending on which way you go, you’ll either get resources, a follower, new weaponry, food, or access to an unknown place denoted by a question mark. Forneus, a strange cat-like creature, operates a temporary stand to sell supplies, and you may also come across Clauneck, a bird-beast with a massive red tent.

Two Tarot Cards representing potential benefits will be produced. Curses may require less Fervour (the blood droplets that fuel your curses, and their spelling, not mine) if you strike with one side, while a successful hit with the other side may generate an area-of-effect assault.

There are a total of 36, and the creator has a plan that goes far into the future, so it’s easy to envisage more Tarot Cards being added after the game’s release.

In Cult of the Lamb, curses serve an absurd number of purposes. These may take many forms, such as ranged assaults, area-of-effect spells, the hurling of massive tentacles, and many more, and can turn the tables on your opponents.

Like Dead Cells, but with nearly twice as much variation, you may get access to additional abilities and weapons by collecting manifestations of your sermons, which can occur randomly inside each dungeon. If your weapons are short on range, they may help.

Your performance will be summarized at the conclusion of each round. The number of items you gathered, the number of opponents you defeated, and the total amount of time it took you to do it are all recorded, as are any bonuses you may have received.

As an instance, if you defeat the area boss without taking any damage, you will get a 20% boost to your equipment.

Cult of the Lamb lets you choose between four distinct difficulties—easy, normal, hard, and extremely hard—at any time to tailor the experience to your own preferences. While the game’s early stages are rather straightforward, things quickly ramp up to a frenzy as you weave through swarms of enemies and slash and parry your way to victory.

The game’s only real flaw is that it may be hard to keep track of what’s happening thanks to the barrage of spectacular particle effects and bullet-hell enemies.

When you defeat a boss, the next time you go through those locations, the difficulty level will be increased. To keep things interesting, enemies will periodically level up and get access to new abilities and health upgrades. No matter how strong you develop, your adversaries will always be many and challenging.

Since your tiny lamb can’t block, you’d better be prepared to dodge-roll your way to victory. Avoid dying too often lest your cult members start to doubt your leadership abilities.

The onset of Dissenters may be linked to a decline in religious conviction. There are those among your followers who would betray you and disseminate lies about you. You may retrain them by torturing, locking up, or even sacrificing them. You are the boss, so do what you want.

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To counteract the Skeptics, you have the Believers. If you can motivate, bribe, or otherwise win over your minions to your cause, at some point they will “level up” and be completely committed to carrying out your orders. The resulting shards of stone may be pieced together to form a Commandment. Norms may develop into Beliefs.

The doctrines you establish for your flock not only serve as a stepping stone to the next tier of the Red Crown but also as a means of maintaining your authority over them. You may use them to do things like teleport back to your base, sacrifice a minion to revive yourself while on the run, or feed your cultists.

Assuring your followers that death is not the end, getting them to work and worship harder, promoting law and order, emphasizing the worth of material possessions, and instructing them to “concentrate on the rituals around their daily food” are all other doctrines at your disposal.

One by one, they will reveal further options that will eventually be codified as law. As an example of the latter, you may order your followers to fast for three days, during which time they won’t eat or drink anything, or you can give them a massive feast, which will increase their faith by +25. These cannot be changed, so make your selection carefully.

There will be times when your followers make requests. Depending on their mood, this might mean anything from just decorating the area to tricking another follower into eating crap.

Some of your most dedicated followers may eventually beg you to offer them to The One Who Waits so that you may better serve the flock as a whole.

Keep them happy and give them what they want, but if you’re in control, it’s up to you to ply them with presents, blatant bribes, or other special activities to strengthen their trust in your cause. You may have authority, but it means nothing until people really listen to you.

The whole of Cult of the Lamb is of great service. You may utilize everything you find—flowers, grass, pebbles, logs, seeds, even the bones of your enemies—in your rituals. This links into the base-building system that will consume all of your time outside of dungeon runs. Your cult is very under-resourced and ragtag. The candles for your cult’s rituals will be lit by your dungeon runs. Your developing mining and logging camps will offer you with materials, and your farms will allow you to feed your growing population.

As you continue to amass the faith of your obedient serfs, you will have access to plans for expansions of your little cult’s infrastructure, including things like cleaner water, more secure holding cells, and more productive farmland. I won’t give anything away, and luckily the game is also cryptic about your upgrading pathways, so have fun finding all the methods to keep your brainwashed army under your command.

Cult of the Lamb has a complex web of interacting systems that support one another. They are introduced gradually, preventing a sudden rush of stress. This is related to one of my favorite aspects of Cult of the Lamb: its manageable length.

Short runs of a few minutes are common in the beginning, but longer ones seldom exceed 30. Staying in camp for a day provides a welcome diversion, but only for as long as it takes to resupply your supplies before sending you back out again. Knucklebones is a gambling minigame where you can earn some additional currency by playing a math-based risk/reward puzzle game; it’s a lot of fun, and I didn’t expect it to be.

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Each diversion adds a new flavorful morsel to the mix. In all candor, there is a lot more I haven’t mentioned, such brainwashing rituals and more. At first glance, it may seem to be a lot, but once you realize that they are only meant to interrupt your runs, you’ll find that it’s not too much to handle. When I need a break from the constant bloodletting and bone-crushing, I go out fishing instead. Fish stew is a healing ritual and a staple in every respectable cult.

Cult of the Lamb has a total playtime of around 15 hours, give or take 7-10 hours if you want to take your time with it. That doesn’t take into consideration the plethora of options that are both A and B and cannot be swapped, thus it’s possible to run the game again with a whole new strategy. Perhaps in the first game you played the role of the beneficent tyrant, honoring your subjects with feasts and raising them to higher levels before they died.

You could run it again as a dictator, sacrificing your minions for a power boost at the expense of their allegiance and giving them real bowls of their own crap. After all, if they get too out of hand, a lengthy jail sentence is where they’ll find loyalty. There are a lot of options, but it seems like you have a lot of control over your domain.

If this all seems like a fan letter, that’s because that’s how my experience with Cult of the Lamb was. Your chibi-like forest animals give you googly eyes and gushes of praise at every step; it’s obnoxiously sweet.

They are still ridiculously adorable even when they are angry. The only time they seem frightened about their dangerous situation is when you plan to sacrifice them to an Eldritch deity at your altar. Despite sharing elements with many other works in the genre, this one strikes out on its own with its peculiar mix of saccharine and the occult.

Although both roguelikes and colony builders are fairly common, Cult of the Lamb manages to mix them in a manner that will test your reflexes and ability to control your minions.

Upsides:

Eldritch terror meets cuteness overload
The music is just as perversely adorable.
This game is a fantastic mashup of the roguelike and colony-building genres.
Decisions that matter in the context of management include a rerun
At 15–20 hours, it’s not too long to keep people watching.
Future plans for more material

Downsides:

The visual stimulation may be too much at times

Cult of the Lamb gets a 9 from me on a scale from 1 to 10.

Cult of the Lamb is an unparalleled representation of what a roguelike may become when fused with a colony sim. Cult of the Lamb has won me over entirely, and I now eagerly await the day when I may manage your followers and murder the weird Eldritch gods who dare to challenge you.

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