Cult of the Lamb Review

A title like Cult of the Lamb can easily live or die on the aesthetic that it puts front and center. So, making sure to nail both the initial appearance and the smaller artistic details are a must for ensuring that the game is able to stand out among the Indie market. Fortunately, developer Massive Monster has not only managed to get Cult of the Lamb’s aesthetic just right, but also the gameplay doesn’t suffer for that success either.

The unique combination of Roguelite dungeon crawling and Town-Building Simulator blend together much more satisfyingly than the concept might initially appear. However, for all of Massive Monster’s successes, there are still a few points where Cult of the Lamb stumbles, even if it rarely fails to impress.

Pulling from many of the games that have come before it, Cult of the Lamb’s gameplay loop sends players into procedurally generated dungeons where no two runs are going to be exactly the same. This is divided into two types of traversal, the individual dungeon maps reminiscent of the Zelda style of moving from static room to static room, along with the larger path leading from map to map. It’s a layered traversal system that allows players to fight as much or little as they want, and pick up materials to take back to their town.

cult of the lamb roguelike

More important than the level design, however, is the combat, which will likely be the focus of most players when Cult of the Lamb launches. Mixing and matching different melee weapons and magical curses leads to each run adopting a new playstyle every time the player jumps into one of the four main dungeons. The combat is fluid, and the rhythm of each weapon manages to keep the overall gameplay consistent, even when the attacks and combos are completely different. That’s without even mentioning the dodge mechanic, which is incredibly satisfying if a little imbalanced in the player’s favor. Of course, a lightning-fast dodge roll is one of only a few advantages the player gets once enemies start throwing attacks all over the map.

The complexity of combat is something that grows throughout Cult of the Lamb, first starting players off against some easier cultists that have limited attack patterns, before quickly adding enemies that attack from range with arrows and light orbs. By the end of the game, the combat takes notes from the genre by blending the Roguelite elements with Bullet Hell fighting. Some boss fights, and even random rooms, become complete chaos, requiring players to keep track of attack patterns from several sources at once.

All of that being said, the combat isn’t perfect. For instance, Cult of the Lamb doesn’t have as many weapons as other Roguelikes like Dead Cells. Additionally, even the limited number of weapons has a few options that are lackluster. It’s specifically the knife and claws that fail to balance for the pace of combat, intending to offer faster attacking speeds for lower damage per hit. More than anything, it’s the claws that fall a bit short, as they require the player to get to the end of a combo before doing real damage. Considering that enemies later in the game don’t hang around long enough for a full combo, this specific weapon becomes its own hard mode.

massive monster devolver digital steam next fest 2022 demo preview

Alongside the Roguelite elements, the game also doubles as a Town-Building Simulator, with the management of Cult of the Lamb’s titular cult directly improving their chances for success in the dungeons. While the art design is in stellar form in the dungeons, between the combat animations and boss designs, back home in the cult is where it truly excels. Not only does the resource harvesting and follower management work well with the playful, cartoon aesthetic, but the dark, cult horror aspects also lead to some incredible animations.

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When it comes to the gameplay for these cult segments, the pace of managing followers can get intense. This is mostly due to how the three major components of the management in Cult of the Lamb continue to work in the background while the player is in the dungeon. Being gone for too long, will result in cult members dying of starvation, getting sick when poop and dead bodies aren’t cleaned up, or leaving if their faith isn’t kept high. It all comes together by requiring players to tend to the individual needs of different followers, even going so far as to complete quests for them. Of course, cult members can also be sacrificed in a number of ways if their specific needs are getting to be too much to deal with.

cult of the lamb boss fight

While the Roguelite elements and the Town-Building elements each succeed on their own, it’s the ways that the two genres blend that help Cult of the Lamb stand out. On the more obvious side of this synergy, improving the cult can unlock new weapons and abilities that carry into the dungeons and make progression easier and more varied. However, the same works in the opposite direction, as the dungeons are where players will find the majority of their followers, and double as a source for materials to improve the cult. Being able to go down paths to collect wood, rocks, or food not only avoids risky fights, but can also be key to gathering enough materials to make some earlier buildings.

Altogether, Cult of the Lamb is an impressive title that leans heavier on the Roguelite genre than anything else, while still pulling everything it needs from the other genres that separate the games from the Indie crowd. Not every feature or mechanic is perfect, and the story is more interesting as lore than it is as a narrative, but that doesn’t seem to be the developer’s main focus. With that in mind, Cult of the Lamb succeeds where it matters, from the Roguelite dungeons to the dark cartoon aesthetic.

Cult of the Lamb is set to release on August 11th 2022 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review.

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