Cult of the Lamb

Devolver Digital’s game showcases are a disorienting splatter of goo and gunk and gorgeous games, so it’s generally not a surprise when something absolutely bonkers gets teased. This year, during Summer Game Fest, Devolver showed off something called Cult of the Lamb from developer Massive Monster. They showcased the game with this lovely trailer:

While the art style is incredible, it’s kind of hard to get a feel for what the gameplay is actually like. Most of the trailer is a hand-drawn style animation, but it does show a little bit of combat and even what looks like resource-gathering and crafting.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this trailer. Cult of the Lamb has the potential to be absolutely incredible, and I want to know more. Thankfully, the folks at Devolver were kind enough to let me try a preview build of the game.

So now that I’ve invested about 90 minutes into it, let me explain what this game is.

Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb is a roguelite that sends you into randomly generated rooms filled with monsters. This part of the gameplay loop feels a little bit like The Binding of Isaac, though you’re armed with a melee weapon by default instead of a ranged one (you will get ranged abilities later on). Some rooms have sets of tarot cards, allowing you to pick one to equip its benefit for the duration of the run. There are other rooms that are designed around particular resources — one room might be rich in stone, while another one might have a ton of berries to collect.

In between runs, you return to a hub area, where you spend your hard-earned resources building and upgrading various structures, as well as assembling your cult. Yes, the goal of the game is to start and manage a cult.

If you die during a run, you will lose a percentage of the items you gained on that run, but you’ll still get to keep the rest. You will have to start that run over again, but the penalty for death is low enough that you can feel like you’re progressing even when you die.

Cult of the Lamb

And if you rescue a poor creature that’s otherwise going to be sacrificed, you can recruit them to join your cult. Your cult members can be put to work gathering resources, or they can be commanded to worship you, which generates another type of resource called Devotion, which allows you to unlock more buildings on a skill tree. However, these cultists also have needs — such as hunger — that you’ll have to take care of to prevent them from leaving your commune.

This formula is incredibly addictive, because you’re pretty much always making progress. Even failure means bringing back a few new things to your cultist hub, so you don’t feel roadblocked when you encounter a particularly difficult boss fight.

Now, the build of the game I got my hands on is not the final version. That’s important to note because I did find some gameplay glitches that could completely halt my progress. For example, I got locked into a room with a sacrifice victim. In this scenario, you’re supposed to fight three waves of enemies to free the victim. Unfortunately, the second wave never spawned and I was just locked in the room until I backed out to the main menu. Another time, a boss glitched through the wall and ended up completely out of reach. Because the camera focused on the boss instead of my character, eventually my character was not even in view anymore and I couldn’t do anything. So I had to exit to the main menu again.

Thankfully, some of the things I’d collected seemed to carry over, even when I had to reset the game to clear a glitched-out run. I had some recipes that persisted across resets, for example, and even my Devotion and money were carrying over. So even these game-halting bugs weren’t enough to prevent me from progressing at least some aspects of Cult of the Lamb.

Cult of the Lamb

Despite these annoyances, which I’m hoping are fixed before the full game launches in August, I found Cult of the Lamb to be incredibly addictive. My demo build only allowed me to explore the first area, called Darkwood, but there were four doors to other areas that were locked for the sake of the demo. I really can’t wait to play more, because I’m completely hooked.

Cult of the Lamb is due out for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on August 11, 2022.

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