Cult of the Lamb is the latest release from Massive Monster and Devolver Digital. You play as a cute little lamb who was sacrificed by a cult, but was saved in death by The One Who Waits, an exiled and trapped god. This gift has a price though, as you must now build your own cult and destroy the four bishops who trapped The One Who Waits and release him.

The Game

Cult of the Lamb is a combination colony sim/roguelike. You spend half of the game at your base, where you tend to your cult. There are a few main stats you have to worry about. First is the cult’s Faith. If it drops too low, your followers will begin to dissent and eventually leave the cult. You keep Faith up by keeping followers healthy and happy, and performing various rituals. Your followers will produce Devotion which unlocks new buildings for you to build at your camp. Each individual follower has a Loyalty stat that can be raised by interacting with them daily and giving them gifts. Followers with higher Loyalty provide more upgrade points during sermons and provide a Devotion bonus each time they level up.

The other half takes place in four different dungeons. You fight your way through several random rooms, gathering resources along the way, to take down various bosses then head home. To be absolutely clear, this is a roguelike in the “venture into randomized dungeons with different equipment and updates each time” sense, and not the “go as far as you can in random runs until you die and earn rewards that make the next run more likely to succeed” sense. It’s an important distinction to make, as a lot of people (including me) much prefer one over the other.

Combat

The combat generally feels really nice to play. It’s fast and fun. There’s so much breakable stuff in every room and it’s so fun to smash everything. There’s a wide variety of curses that are all cool and interesting. I really appreciate how getting hit feels noticeable in this game in ways that it hasn’t in others I’ve played. I’ve had several experiences in various combat games where I develop a complete blindness to my health and don’t realize how much damage I’m taking until I’m dead, but this never once happened in Cult of the Lamb.

Other Cool Things

The music is good, the art style is undeniably cute, and I love the design and atmosphere of each individual dungeon. I also love that there’s a bleat button. There are few things that I love more in video games than buttons that exist only to make a noise.

Two screenshots spliced together to show the dungeon hub of Cult of the Lamb
The dungeon hub itself is also quite lovely.

Something else I liked is that, for the most part, you’re never forced to be a jerk to your followers. Cruelty is an active choice that you have to make. You don’t have to sacrifice your followers, but look at how much power it gives you. You don’t have to imprison dissenting followers, but they’re annoying, and isn’t that the most egregious crime of all? A lot of games try to make commentary on various topics that are ultimately undercut by the fact that you as the player don’t really have a choice outside of choosing not to play it. Games condemning violence don’t really have much of an impact if the only way to progress through the game is through violence. In Cult of the Lamb you have to think about what you’re doing and decide how far you’re willing to go for the sake of power.

The Feasting ritual in Cult of the Lamb
How far I’m willing to go is usually “giving people free food & money,” because being mean to cute animals makes me sad.

Issues

However, despite all the good things about it, there are some problems. The most pressing are the bugs. Most of the bugs I’ve encountered have just been annoying, like followers getting stuck until I made everyone come to the temple or the scrollbars not working sometimes, but some have impacted gameplay in pretty negative ways. During my 2nd boss fight, the death animation didn’t play and the corpse was invisible, so I almost ended up restarting the game until I stumbled across the reward item to properly end the fight. The game got stuck during the rewards screen after the 4th boss, so I had to restart the game and redo the entire dungeon. The devs have been good at patching bugs so far, but some of the patches have introduced new bugs. As I’m writing this, there’s some stuttering that wasn’t there before, and my faith level keeps getting stuck at a certain level no matter what I do to raise it until I perform a brainwashing ritual to lock and unlock it. While I would recommend this game, I wouldn’t blame you if you put it off for a while until all the bugs have been fixed.

The colony sim progression doesn’t feel balanced with the dungeon progression. I had fully upgraded everything a little while after beating the third boss, and I was playing “suboptimally;” I generally stayed away from sacrifices and didn’t do all that many rituals. I imagine if you were playing a bit more ruthlessly you could max out the upgrades before you even got to the third boss. It just felt kinda weird to be sitting on piles and piles of gold when it still felt like there was still a while to go until the end. It also felt like there wasn’t a whole lot to do with the special resource from the 4th area aside from building that area’s decorations.

Verdict

I give this game 4 out of 5 cthulhus. It’s fun, it’s cute, but it’s a little bit buggy and the progression differences can put a damper on things. Cult of the Lamb is currently $24.99 and available for PC, Xbox, Playstation, and the Nintendo Switch.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)