It’s like someone says “You know what I need in my rogue-lite? A slice of evil, devil-based Animal Crossing!” and frankly, it’s fantastic.
Cult of the Lamb is two separate games that amazingly complement each other in unique ways.
Roguelikes and rogue-lites are some of my favourite games and I am surprised it has taken this long for me to have found a rouge-lite which fills your time between runs with another genre of video game.
It’s why I prefer the indie space, developers are not afraid to try something new or push the proverbial boat out, so to speak.
Cult of The Lamb Review (PS5) – 2 Genres, One Game
Rogue-lite Meets Evil Animal Crossing
In Cult of the Lamb, you play, well, a lamb. You die, get resurrected by The One Who Waits, and are tasked with killing the other bishops that imprisoned them.
Each god is present in an ever-changing procedurally generated dungeon that grows over time. Everything so far sounds like a normal rogue-like but Cult of the Lamb is anything but.
In between your jaunts through the dungeons, while trying to free the god that brought you back, you manage a cult. I know, who thinks this stuff up?
You gradually improve your base, gaining more followers, performing sermons and well, at least early on, cleaning up a lot of poop.
What I was not prepared for is how fleshed out the sim part of this game was or how well it feeds into the upgrade systems of the rogue-like portion of the game.
Your cult starts off small, needless and happy but before you know it you are looking after a bunch of needy, pooping, moaning followers.
You have to manage their happiness, their cleanliness and even kill them from time to time. They do deserve it most of the time to be fair. I started naming my cult members after my own family and friends and that’s when things really started to get weird.
One Big, Poopy, Heretic Family
Your cult members are part of a living, breathing ecosystem and interact with each other while you are out.
I came back once to a work colleague of mine who was confessing his love for my real-life girlfriend, I had my sons wanting to feed each other poop and even married my own daughter, all within the game of course.
It was all humorous and kept me very entertained. It was nice coming back from my dungeon runs to see how my cult had evolved and what drama had unfolded in my absence.
At the heart of your base is a shrine that your followers worship, this creates a currency, called devotion. This is used to expand what you can build in your cult. When I first built a toilet and did not have to shovel crap up anymore, it was a massive moment.
You can farm resources, convert your followers into demons to take out with you and even create mines. For a game where the base building is only fifty percent of its content, there was a lot to construct, analyse and experiment with and I truly treasured that side of the game.
You can give your followers a daily sermon, this creates another currency you can spend on upgrading your in-run weapons, curses and other little upgrades that will make your dungeon delving a tad easier.
Within your church, you can also perform and unlock rituals, little faith-boosting acts that can have ever-lasting effects on your needy little followers. You can marry folk, sacrifice them and even give bonuses to other parts of the base-building experience.
The Other Half
The rogue-lite parts are very much what you expect. Enter a room, kill the baddies and move on. There’s a tarot card system that gives you boosts in each run, characters to meet and even resources to collect.
I enjoyed the rogue-lite sections, don’t get me wrong but it was how they fed into the base-building parts of the game that really made it sing.
In a Slay the Spire-like manor, while traversing the dungeons you can pick your path, selecting which route you want to take, depending on your current needs.
For example, if you need more followers, you can get them, need more wood to build another building, you can do that or are you just in need of food to feed your starving populace?
That is what is so clever about Cult of the Lamb is that normally in a rogue-lite it’s just run after run with your only real goal being to complete it.
In this quirky title, I was thinking about expansion, food and what route I took dependent on other aspects of the game. I went into runs with different goals, with different aspirations and it felt truly unique.
This Review Could Have Gone On All Day
I could wax lyrical all day about the in-game dice game Knucklebones, I could talk about unlockable clothing, fishing or follower side-quests but we don’t want to be sitting around listening to me waffle on all day.
I still have a cult to manage you know. What we have with Cult of the Lamb is a very intricately designed mesh of two gaming genres that perfectly support each other’s endeavours. It’s captivating, rewarding and while playing it, I could think of nothing else.
Graphically, I fell in love with this game. It’s beautiful, striking and has a cutesy Saturday morning cartoon vibe ebbing through every crease of its design.
The backdrops are detailed and vibrant, its characters are bright and beautiful and its enemies are variably hideous. The whole game has a bright and striking colour palette that contrasts with its harsh black and white tones. I was really taken by this art style, it’s truly beautiful.
On the sound front, the eerie music really complimented the art style and the sound effects portrayed what was happening on screen perfectly. I got to the point where I could tell what was cracking off with my cult just by the sound effects.
I could tell when one of my followers was revolting and spreading discord from miles away, well I guess it’s back to the stocks with Crawford!
The sound and art design really go hand in hand to give Cult of the Lamb a unique and strong presentation style that I adored.
Right, after all that praise I do have a small problem. I had a few performance issues that, while small and very infrequent, do slightly bring the experience down.
I had to restart once because I could not see what I was doing, I have had small bits of slowdown and after reading online, there are a few issues to be ironed out.
Luckily, the developers are on it, know the issues and I would imagine a patch is not too far off. The truth is though, Cult of the Lamb is that good, these few small issues are worth wading through.
I hardly notice them and to be fair, they are fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
See You At The Sermon
As you can probably tell, I am besotted by this quirky, weird amalgamation of game styles. It looks splendid, is full of merriment and is wildly rewarding to play.
A tell-tale sign I enjoyed is the fact that it was the first game since Elden Ring I thought about while not playing it.
Performance issues aside, I wholeheartedly recommend Cult of the Lamb, even if you are not into rogulites, there is enough here to tickle the heart of anyone who gives it a shot.
Right, I am off to punish some non-believers, see you in the sermon.
Review code generously provided by publisher.