by September 5, 2022 @ 6:00 pm
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
There are a lot of contrasting styles in Cult of the Lamb. This is in regards to the game’s presentation, as well as its gameplay variety. The game does quite a few different things all at once, and thankfully, it does them all right. Developer Massive Monster has put together a completely intriguing, engaging, and addictive game here — one that’ll sink its hooks deep and keep you entertained all the way through.
Cult of the Lamb starts out with our adorable lamb protagonist being sacrificed in grisly fashion. After the lamb’s life is taken, it’s greeted by a powerful, demonic entity who brings you back to the world of the living. The catch is you’ll need to sacrifice the heads of four different cults.
The whole premise is a little bit dark, but the creepy themes are contrasted by a colorful, cartoon-like art style. Everything has this bold look to it, so the overworld and stages are all really nice to behold. And because the game stars a bunch of talking animals, the hand-drawn style gives them this cutesy look that creates a charming juxtaposition.
Roguelite Hack-and-Slash… Cult Management Sim? Hell Yeah!
It’s pretty cool when a single game can experiment with multiple gameplay styles. Moonlighter did that to near perfection by providing a Zelda-esque dungeon-based action-adventure experience mixed with a shopkeeping sim. Cult of the Lamb does something similar. The action parts of the game have you roaming across four procedurally generated environments in search of the cult leaders that need to die by your hand.
These environments have you going from one area to another, slaying smaller enemies and collecting loot and upgrades. You’re armed with a blade and a projectile — both of which are chosen at random at the start of a run — and you’ll have to hack and slash your way across dozens of baddies. It’s fast-paced, it’s simple, and it’s fun. It’s not exactly deep, but it’s still entertaining.
In order to defeat the big bad in each of the four environments, you’ll have to do four individual runs for that environment. Thanks to the procedurally generated nature of Cult of the Lamb, things never get repetitive. In fact, with each run through an environment lasting from 10 to 15 minutes, it’s actually pretty fun being able to revisit the areas a few times before the final boss encounter.
Cult of the Lamb features multiple difficulty settings. Playing on the normal setting, I found the challenge to be just right. It starts out forgiving enough and slowly ramps up to provide a more imposing adventure the further you get.
When you’re not sacrificing enemies and slaying bosses, you’ll have to worry about managing your own cult. These parts of the game are really cool, too, and the sim aspects are never overly obtuse or overwhelming. Instead, you’ll have a cult of followers that grows over time — as you rescue cultists from your enemies, for example — and it’s your job to ensure that they’re well taken care of.
You’ll have to scavenge and provide food for your followers. You need to keep their faith in you high by performing specific side quests, as well as daily sermons in your chapel. Like any good cult leader, it’s up to you to provide your flock with a place to sleep. Oh, also, if they’re getting rowdy, you could always sacrifice them, though this could cause some unrest amongst your followers. In addition, over time, your followers will die, so you can choose to bury the corpses or turn them into delicious meals!
The cult sim stuff is pretty fun, it’s never too demanding, and the systems are all pretty easy to grasp. Of course, if you’re not into management sims, you probably won’t enjoy these parts, and they might get in the way if you’re really digging the action bits.
Dark and Cheery
Cult of the Lamb works because of its gameplay diversity as well as its stylistic variety. The game is cheery yet dark, brooding yet humorous, and twisted yet inviting. It’s a good time, and its multiple gameplay systems mesh quite harmoniously. The combat is a little simple, but it’s fun nonetheless. And the cult sim parts aren’t overly deep, but there are a lot of moving parts to keep you busy for the roughly 16 hours it’ll take you to beat the game.
Devolver Digital tends to put its publishing stamp on some pretty inventive and straight-up delightful games like Demon Throttle and Loop Hero. Massive Monster’s Cult of the Lamb is right up there with those past titles. It’s a joy to play, it’s weird, and it’s awesome.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
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