‘Cult Of The Lamb’ Review: Dark Action Adventure With Cute Town Management
by Gary Catig
There are many sayings involving lambs and they don’t necessarily scream positivity. They can be used to describe someone who is timid or impressionable. In the new game Cult of the Lamb from Devolver Digital, players can prove the common idioms wrong.
The story takes place in a land ruled by four false prophets who sacrifice the last lamb in the world who is destined to lead to their downfall. The lamb is given a second chance at life and is resurrected by “The One Who Waits” in exchange for starting a cult worshipping their savior. The game is part base building simulation and part roguelike. The more you grow your flock, the stronger you become in order take revenge on those who killed you and prove your sect’s superiority.
The action part of Cult of the Lamb is, for the most part, well made, smooth, and easy to pick up. You set out on conquests into the domains of the false prophets killing their followers and collecting resources to use in your town. There is depth in the gameplay providing a variety of attacks to defeat enemies.
There are melee weapons with different attack rates, lengths, and power and you’ll find yourself predominantly hacking and slashing your way through the levels. Curses are the magic equivalent with a finite bar to draw from that can be replenished. These allow strikes from distance, and it can be a challenge mastering both, especially when battling the bosses.
Familiarize yourself with the different creatures’ attack patterns and use the most efficient combination of attacks to take them down. Dodges are the only effective defensive manoeuvre and keep an eye out for blue hearts that serve as shields and tarot cards that provide helpful power ups. The difficulty nicely ramps up as you progress, but one of the downsides is you can’t specifically choose the weapon and curse you use. It is initially predetermined with a few opportunities to switch per level, but once again, it is from a pool of what is offered rather than a precise selection.
As addicting is the building your base portion. Recruit followers during conquests and have them help manage your village. It’s a simple yet sophisticated system of various buildings and tasks to select from. The two components of Cult of the Lamb work in complement because the happier your flock is, the easier it is to earn power ups through their devotion. That requires you to set out and gather food, building supplies, and presents to show your appreciation. They even think of everything for the town management since you have to keep it sanitary with outhouses and a clean-up crew or risk disease. At least you can flip the poo into fertilizer to help grow crops. Being able to switch back and forth between the gameplay modes keeps things fresh because they are so different.
The story is interesting enough learning about how the four false prophets came to power and the backstory of “The One Who Waits.” The writing has plenty of humor with regards to interacting with your cult. Some of the side missions from you followers are pretty funny with the poop sandwich being an amusing one. There is a myriad of rituals to both reward and scare your flock into line. The game manages to walk a fine line having a balance of cuteness and innocence with the character designs along with the darker tone of animal sacrifices. The bosses themselves have a twisted and monstrous look about them and it’s a nice contrast of aesthetics.
Cult of the Lamb does contain bugs that currently take away from the enjoyment. Particularly in the later stages, it is susceptible to freezing or enemies disappear preventing you from progressing. This is especially frustrating in the middle of a conquest. I also found rituals were unable to be completed, which are vital to maintaining happy disciples. Moreover, during the rituals, you can only choose from up to six followers, usually the highest level ones, to participate. This makes it nearly impossible sometimes to target the person you want all the time. Hopefully a later update can help remedy these problems.
Despite a few glitches, the game is an addictive action adventure with town management elements. It finds a good balance of lighthearted cute humor and darker horror elements that satisfyingly work well together.
Cult of the Lamb is out now on macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.