You are running from the followers of the Old Faith, crashing through the woods, before getting caught by hooded cultists who tie you to a horrifying mushroom tree with the faces of trapped souls screaming out. You are faced with utter horror as you are about to be sacrificed in the name of the bishops of the Old Faith. As the cultists raise a bone blade to your neck, all of a sudden, a lamb transforms his red crown into a deadly blade and cuts down your captors, rescuing you from your deadly fate. You are now a faithful servant of your new lord and savior and maybe the cutest thing you’ve ever seen: the Lamb.
Cult of the Lamb, from Massive Monster and published by Devolver Digital, is a roguelike game where you fight your way through the followers of the Old Faith, who suppresses other religious beliefs and committed genocide against the lambs. The last lamb, you are the subject of prophecy, which says a lamb will bring back to power The One Who Waits, and as the last remaining lamb, The One Who Waits deems you worthy of rescuing from death, as long as you work to establish a loyal following of worshippers. The cult you establish features management sim mechanics as you build a settlement and meet the needs of your followers through services, food, rituals and faith, and more. The combination of these two distinct game styles allows for unique gameplay that will keep you fighting for faith and followers over and over again.
It is clear that the team of Massive Monster cares deeply for Cult of the Lamb. The aesthetics of this game are clearly defined, steeped in red, black, and white color schemes. The character designs are some of the most adorable I’ve seen but still feel steeped in eldritch horror. The combat levels, consisting of procedurally-generated maps, have a consistent theme but distinct differences between the various areas of the story. This consistency in cute-but-creepy style continues to the animation, which is encapsulated in the design of the rituals. When sacrificing one of your followers to The One Who Waits, for example, they enter the ritual circle with a wink and blow a kiss before being pulled into the abyss by eldritch tentacles. This beautiful mashup of the adorable and terrifying produces an artistic style that is as unique as the gameplay itself.
The combat is classically roguelike, with smooth mechanics and a variety of options and procedural generation that keep the combat fresh and engaging. It is challenging at points but never too difficult to overcome after a few tries (or upgrades using the faith of your followers). The various mobs you fight each have their own fighting style and skill set, but these are simple enough that learning their attack patterns is not overwhelming. The tarot cards you earn as you progress through a combat level provide unique bonuses while giving the runs an arcane feel. Boons range from extra hearts, to revealing the map, and adding bonuses to your various skills. The miniboss and boss fights are equally challenging, and their defeats feel like accomplishments with tangible and beneficial rewards. The largest challenge from combat is that your settlement continues to progress while you are off fighting, oftentimes meaning you come back to your followers dissenting against you, starving, or dead.
The settlement and faith management is just as critical and oftentimes jas challenging as the combat. Keeping the faith up and your followers fed and well-rested can be difficult. But it is also a lot of fun trying to figure out just how you are going to do it. There are a number of options available to you as you develop the faith, with various doctrines and rituals helping you lean your cult towards a more diabolical or a more shepherding approach. The use of faith as one of the virtual currencies really helps focus on the cultish aspects of the game while unlocking further options to develop your follower camp. There is so much that you can have going on in your settlement, however, that it is here where you are most likely to run into bugs. There were, unfortunately, a number of times, while I was playing the Switch version, that I’ve had the game freeze while within the camp, especially when trying to conduct rituals. Luckily, the autosave feature is well-designed and often very little time is lost when having to restart the game due to a freeze.
Cult of the Lamb is a unique experience combining two popular genres seamlessly. Being given the reins of an adorable cult of animals worshiping an eldritch horror was a concept I could not resist, and I am ecstatic that the actual game lives up to the hype I felt when I first watched the trailer. This game is challenging but not overwhelming, and is a great foray into the rogue-like genre for those who have not yet tried it out. The artistic quality of this game is incredible, and the gameplay is engaging and leads itself to multiple replays. I will not be putting down Cult of the Lamb anytime soon!
Cult of the Lamb is available digitally now on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and GOG.com, with physical copies currently available for pre-order.