You can’t envy the sacrificial lamb: to lose one’s life on the altar of unknown gods in an incomprehensible ritual is a questionable satisfaction. Even if it is for the greater good and saving the universe. And especially if you were not asked at all. So it is not surprising that when a mysterious entity from the other world offers the lamb to resurrect and take revenge on the wrongdoers, he agrees without any hesitation. In return, the new acquaintance asks for very little – to create a cult that will worship him as a true god, and to kill the four bishops who keep the evil entity imprisoned in the afterlife.
|Game||Cult of the Lamb|
|Genre||Roguelike, Action/Adventure, Management simulator|
|Platforms||Windows, macOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch|
Returning to the world of the living, the lamb begins to do what a decent demonic Lovecraftian prophet should do – destroying the infidels, finding new cultists, conducting creepy rituals, sacrificing the innocent, and setting up various idols, as well as slightly more mundane tasks – gardening, cooking and cleaning up shit on an industrial scale. And all because Cult of the Lamb is a kind of mix of a roguelike like Hades and a simulator like Animal Crossing. The mix, it must be admitted, is quite interesting and atmospheric, the game managed to go viral on the contrast of the very cute visual style and the occult theme, and the gameplay is really addictive, but only in the first half of the fairly linear campaign.
The roguelike component in Cult of the Lamb is a little lighter compared to the classic representatives of this genre: the campaign is divided into four separate biomes, each of which will have to be passed several times in order to get the opportunity to defeat the boss and advance further in the story. Moreover, at a normal level of difficulty, neither ordinary opponents nor bosses pose a particular danger, and you can die only from inattention or an unsuccessful starting choice of weapons and curse attacks. Yes, the game does not allow you to choose equipment and instead offers you a random set that can be changed during the level, if, of course, the randomizer wills it. The fact is that there are only five types of weapons in the game: a dagger, a sword, combat gloves, an ax and a hammer, and there are problems with the balance here. The choice of a sword or an ax appears to be optimal in terms of attack power/speed, the hammer turns into a formidable and effective weapon only if you are lucky enough to pick up an attack speed modifier, gloves are effective if you manage to finish the combo, and the dagger is basically useless. Over time, improved weapons become available to the player that deal more damage, poison enemies, or heal the character, but on the normal difficulty level these nuances can be neglected, so we advise you to choose a higher difficulty level.
The same goes for curses, some of which are much more useful than others. Most of the enemies in the game are extremely mobile, so any magic attack that requires precise aiming, a long activation time, or is just a poisonous puddle on the floor automatically becomes unusable. Tarot cards that the player finds and buys as they progress diversify the gameplay, and various lamb capes that act as temporary and permanent modifiers, giving extra hearts, increasing attack speed, allowing you to resurrect after death, and more.
In a word, crushing enemies in Cult of the Lamb is fun at first, but quickly enough this process gets boring, it lacks a little depth, the saving grace is that each individual run usually lasts no more than 10 minutes, and between them you have to deal with the affairs of your own cult, that is, to maintain the faith of the adepts at the proper level, for which it is necessary to hold masses and various rituals, and sometimes to imprison apostates and brainwash them in prison, to take care of their welfare, that is, to provide them with food, a place to sleep and pray, preferably to have an infirmary and necessarily toilets, otherwise the cultists will literally pollute everything around them, get sick and die before the allotted time. You will find candidates for joining the cult during the passage of dungeons, after which they appear in the draft circle and after customization (if desired) become available to serve your evil deity. The more cultists, the faster points of faith are accumulated, which allow you to raise the level of the cult and gain access to new buildings that have both a practical and a purely decorative role. If in the first days of the existence of the cult of the lamb you have to clean the surroundings yourself, and garden, and extract resources, and cook food, then later, with the appearance of farm buildings, it will be possible to appoint cultists for most tasks.
And, as in the case of the adventure part, the further the player progresses, the more obvious the problems become. Firstly, the game does not have an adequate statistics screen, so you have to spin circles trying to find out if all the cultists are active and if some building is idle. You can’t assign roles to cultists in advance, which is a pretty serious inconvenience, because while you’re in the dungeon, time doesn’t stop, buildings wear out, food spoils, toilets overflow, and crops ripen in the garden. You return from a trip, and the ungrateful animals are rioting, because their tents have collapsed, there is shit all around, because there was no one to clean the toilets, everyone is hungry, although the ground is full of portions of food that is about to spoil, the sick are not treated in the infirmary, because it ran out of healing flowers, and the scout who returned from the expedition for resources will now die of fatigue, because he does not go to rest, but stands and waits for the player to come and take the spoils.
At the same time, half of the cult prays like decent people, and half wanders idly around the neighborhood and shouts heresy. Well, you have to stuff everyone with hallucinogenic mushrooms, temporarily reducing the level of discontent, bury those who died of hunger without thinking to go and get food, drive particularly noisy heretics to re-education in prison or sacrifice them if they are already too old (old people in the cult do not work, but only pray, eat or wander around, distracting others from work), urgently repair everything, prepare more food and tell each individual believer what to eat or what to do. And you do it over and over again. It is obvious that this is not a malfunction, but rather the result of cutting down game mechanics, for example, the hints advised me to build a storage for food so that it does not spoil so quickly, but such a building is banally absent in the game, and the vast majority of the same farm buildings are simply not needed, because you only need to have 20 cultists to perform the final ritual and go to defeat the final boss. And this can be achieved even without comfortable buildings for living, a large garden, a variety of food and all kinds of structures that increase the efficiency of cultists. It seems to me that more various mechanics were planned, but due to certain reasons, the developers decided to abandon them.
The same applies to side activities such as fishing, playing dice, and completing tasks issued by both your cult members and other non-game characters. It is possible to do all this, but it is not necessary at all. And it is precisely in this, and not in the insufficient depth of the roguelike component, that the main problem of the game is. After the final credits, I had no desire to go through dungeons in endless mode or to complete side quests in dungeons of increased difficulty, but I would happily play with my cozy cult for a few more evenings, but what’s the point?
Cult of the Lamb turned out to be interesting and deservedly caught the attention of players: the game is guaranteed to give you ten to fifteen hours of fun, but it is unlikely to encourage repeated playthroughs, at least in its current state.