Recently we’ve seen a rise in rogue-like and lite adventures. Every developer wants to offer their take, some doing excellent and others not. What makes Cult of the Lamb stand out is the actual cult-building aspect. Instead of dealing with random combat challenges, players need to build a thriving cult by building houses, food, and daily sermons. It’s an interesting concept, though, given a lot of games fall short in the long run, is Cult of the Lamb worth joining, or is it nothing more than a neat gimmick?
Cult of the Lamb has a familiar premise. A group of false prophets knows of a prophecy of a being that will rise against and bring about their end. The false prophets unknowingly cause the prophecy to be fulfilled to protect their power, cult, and lives. That is, assuming you can amass enough power to bring about their end.
Such Friendly Faces
Despite the simple concept, Cult of the Lamb does a lot to flesh out these shadowy figures. Progressing through their territory will result in a handful of encounters where you learn about their power and personality. There is also a subplot suggesting more to this conflict than meets the eye. It’s enough to make the adventure enjoyable without hitting a point where anything feels excessive. If anything, the vague nature and colorful cast of characters will leave players wanting to know more about this mysterious world.
Before worrying about false prophets, players need to focus on building a cult. Initially, players will earn followers by progressing through stages, defeating bosses, or optional events. Every follower is unique enough, typically having different traits that make them special. Some are useful, like faster leveling, whereas others are not, such as more likely to dissent. Once a follower has gone through indoctrination, you can change their name, form, color, and variant (face paintings, horns, etc.), along with seeing their traits. There is a randomized option for those who don’t care, or you can stick to their default look.
Lot’s of customization options
Once a character officially becomes a follower, you must give them a role. Initially, these are essential tasks like cutting down trees or breaking rocks, including cleaning up the city, farming, refining resources, building structures, etc. Followers with nothing to do will worship, giving a help called devotion to unlocking new things to make.
Things start extremely slow, but once you have the foundational stuff taken care of, it doesn’t take long to start building your cult. As items become more advanced, the number of work shifts from organizing to maintaining. It’s an exciting shift, as you’ll have more followers to worry about, meals to prepare, along with problems to address.
Which Will You Choose?
Over time, you’ll unlock doctrine, which slowly shapes your cult. These range from giving specific traits to performing rituals to enact your will. Whenever you pass a new doctrine, there will generally be positive and negative options. For instance, the first choice for death is giving every follower the belief in the afterlife trait, reducing the negative impact faith death causes; or you can make your followers okay with sacrifice, negating the negative impact sacrifices have on faith. These choices ultimately shape the type of cult you want to make, providing different and unique challenges to overcome. Every option has a distinct positive and negative aspect; it just comes down to what you want to do.
Eventually, you’ll run out of supplies and need to go on a quest. These make up the rouge-lite stages you need to complete to ultimately kill the false prophets. On average, these three to five levels have many challenges to overcome. Players have some control by selecting which path they want to follow. Paths are entirely random, besides starting/ending with a combat stage, giving either resources, followers, or more things to kill. Players worried about time should not, as the whole grouping of levels rarely takes over 15 minutes to complete.
As for playing, every cult has its theme, complete with unique resources, challenges, and things to discover. Enemies are varied enough, with combat coming down to whatever weapons/magic happens to appear. Players can also get positive/negative modifiers that can change how a run plays out. Most of these either swap stats or add an attribute, though they still change the core experience. As with most rouge-lite games, luck will determine how the run will play out. Certain weapons are strong in one situation but weak in another. This makes things interesting, though you’ll find two or three options along the way, with the final coming down to making the most of whatever you have.
Despite the good aspects, there are some weaker elements to Cult of the Lamb. For starters, getting into the main gameplay loop doesn’t take long. Most of the adventure is about building out, not building up, which can make progression feel fast or extremely slow, given the task at hand. Cult of the Lamb is set to have events like the currently available Blood Moon Festival to counter this. Based on that event, these are not overly elaborate events. I wager you can unlock everything from the Blood Moon Festival in 20 minutes to an hour, but seeing more things to unlock is great.
Along with that, the PlayStation 5 version has some performance issues. Certain attacks can cause lag, along with specific situations or times. I know whenever a new day comes, Cult of the Lamb freezes for a moment before moving forward. These are relatively minor things, though they’re familiar enough where you’ll see them.
Cult of the Lamb Review Verdict
Cult of the Lamb might be simple, but that doesn’t stop it from addicting. There is enough to do to make things interesting, with every choice directly impacting combat sections. This, along with a wide array of unlockable items, events, and more, make it an easy choice, especially if you’re a fan of building sims, cults, or the roguelike/lite genre.
[Editor’s Note: Cult of the Lamb was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided for review purposes.]