Cult of the Lamb on PC
When Cult of the Lamb was first announced, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this roguelike’s macabre idea of building your own cult adorn with cute anthropomorphic followers. Little did I know that beneath this dark and adorable surface lies arguably the most intricate and enthralling game of 2022.
Cult of the Lamb puts players in the shoes of a possessed lamb that has been sentenced to death by the four Bishops that rule his land. While killed at the beginning of the game, this nameless protagonist is saved from death by a god-like stranger named “The One Who Waits.”
In order to repay the debt, they must create a cult of loyal followers in The One Who Waits’ name, cultivate power, and defeat the Bishops who put it in chains. Gameplay-wise, Cult of the Lamb is pretty much the demonic love child of Hades and Stardew Valley.
Crusades are the rougelike element of the game, as you’ll go out into five randomly generated worlds in order to fight rival cultists, gather resources, and collect perks and weapons that’ll help get you stronger. The village is where farming comes in, as you’re tasked with indoctrinating innocent creatures you meet while on Crusades.
Take care of your followers well enough and upgrade the area with more helpful resources, and you’ll be rewarded with unimaginable power. At first, I honestly didn’t think that these elements would work together, but boy, was I wrong.
On the one hand, roguelikes have quickly become one of my favorite genres in gaming, as titles like Hades and Dead Cells brought me endless hours of joy over the years, thanks to their creative gameplay loops. Cult of the Lamb does a fantastic job of continuing this streak, providing a fun mix of combat that ramps up as the game progresses.
Like most roguelikes, the randomly generated levels allow you to pick the path you want to go on until you reach each section’s mini-boss. Along these paths, you’ll find resources, experience unique events, and fight dungeon-specific enemies in confined spaces.
Resources range from items that you can use back on the farm, like wood or seeds, to ones that’ll help you survive your current Crusade, like unique hearts and tarot cards that grant you buffs. Unique events follow the same idea, as they’ll grant you followers that can be sent back to your cult, merchants that you can buy from, or even NPCs that you can talk to for mini-games and quests outside of Crusades.
When it comes to fighting, the combat is basic in terms of how you do battle, as you can attack, roll, and use a wide array of curses. How you attack and the curses you use depend on the items you randomly roll at the start of each Crusade.
Sometimes you’ll get a dagger that is all about speed and a ranged curse that shoots deadly tentacles at your enemies on the ground in different directions. Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses, though it definetly feels like the game is more catered to speed weapons, especially when it comes to bosses.
I can’t tell you how many times I was able to dart in and defeat bosses with a dagger without getting a scratch on me in the beginning. As the game progresses, the difficulty definitely increases, though, especially when fighting the Bishops.
The Bishops are bosses that boast more exaggerated and powerful versions of the attacks you find their minions using in each fight leading up to it and make for a really challenging fight. Eventually, even having the speed of a dagger and dodge combo won’t save you from having a screen full of minions and a boss that has bullet hell, area of effect, and speed attacks on their side. That is where building up your cult and farm come in.
Now, I’ll admit, I’ve never really found the genre to be my thing. I just never enjoyed the gameplay genre’s loop to any satisfying degree or felt relaxed like most people. Combine this with the fact that I was enjoying the roguelike aspects of Cult of the Lamb so much, and I definitely found myself hoping that the farming and simulation elements would take a backseat early on.
Interestingly enough, even though I adore the combat of Cult of the Lamb, I simply couldn’t stop playing around with my farm (named Camp Kool-Aid). You see, instead of the simulation aspect of the game just being a supplemental part of the gameplay, it turns out that Massive Monster really knew what they were doing when they built this game’s ecosystem.
First, it’s important to know how things run. Once you get your first follower at the start of the game, you can command them to help you mine for resources around the camp. Eventually, you’ll set up a building station that allows you to build some low-level necessities like an alter, a campfire for cooking, and a church to preach in.
These basic items don’t require too many resources and only need to be built once. With these items built, you can then gain devotion, preach sermons, and expand your farm with new buildings and helpful stations.
It’s amazing how literally everything on the farm has a purpose that then feeds into and supports something else. For example, you need to feed your cultists in order to keep them happy. While food can be found while out on Crusades, you usually end up finding resources like bones, wood, and seeds to grow food instead.
At first, the food is pretty bare and can even cause your flock to get sick if they eat it. The problem is that if they don’t eat, not only can they possibly die, but they’ll also lose faith, which is indicated by a faith meter at the top of the screen.
If faith is low at your camp, then your followers will start to revolt. When followers revolt, they can end up leaving the camp and stealing from you, which obviously really hurts when you’re trying to build things up from scratch. Thankfully, this isn’t too hard to manage at the start, as you only have a couple of people’s faith to keep track of.
Once you do figure out some proper food to feed your flock, you’ll also need to clean up, well, their poop. At first, I found this annoying, as I didn’t understand why this element was added to the game.
After I eventually built some plots for planting crops, though, I was amazed to find that you actually use their poop as fertilizer for the crops. From there, the Church and the altar both boast their own intricate subsections.
In the Church, you practice Sermons once a day, come up with Doctrines, and practice Rituals. Each of these sections has its own layers to leveling up and provide its own benefit once they are.
Getting enough followers to attend your Sermons over time lets you upgrade the curses, weapons, and abilities you get while on Crusades. This is obviously helpful the further along you get in the game, as enemies become more powerful the further you progress.
Doctrines allow you to select from a category and make a choice that will unlock either a new Ritual, Trait, or Follower Interaction. Each one of these has four different subsections, and you can choose from two different options in each, though the other option will no longer be available to unlock after choosing its counterpart.
My favorite Doctrines were the ones that revolved around Follower Interactions, as they allowed me to enact Rituals that included everything from murder to marrying them in order to solve problems like dissension or low faith.
The altar is where you use your follower’s prayers to cash in on some sweet Divine Inspirations. This upgrade system is what lets the Lamb unlock new buildings on a branching tree of options that expand as the cult levels ups.
The further up you go, you’ll be able to do a lot more, including building prisons to make sure followers stay in line, upgrading sleeping bags to prevent sickness and collapses, and much more. Eventually, you’ll be able to upgrade the cult enough to the point where it becomes completely self-sufficient. You can place stations that allow followers to clean up after themselves, plant and pick crops, and all the other stuff you used to have to do for them at the start of the game.
The whole process of leveling up the farm while also leveling up everything that helps you do well on Crusades in a perfect loop is just so damn satisfying. I can genuinely say that it’s resulted in the most fun I’ve had in a video game all year.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable roguelike or farm sim game out there than Cult of the Lamb. The way that it manages to craft such a complicated, but intricate ecosystem of upgrades and resource management alongside varied and stellar combat is a wonder to behold.
You can keep your Elden Rings and Horizon Forbidden Wests; I’ll be on my cult farm raising crops and occasionally sacrificing my followers for the rest of the year, as Cult of the Lamb is an easy front runner for Game of the Year.
- Insanely in depth ecosystem.
- Farm Sim mechanics that are incredibly satisfying and hard to put down.
- Crusades and the farm work to improve on another.
- Varied combat that ramps up as the game progresses.
- Combat may feel a bit too easy at first.
Aug. 11, 2022
Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, & Xbox Series X|S
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