Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb is basically two games in one. On one side, you’ve got a dungeon-crawling roguelite, which feels similar in a lot of ways to The Binding of Isaac. On the other side, you’ve got a cult-management sim that feels like a demonic version of Animal Crossing. Both halves of the game are immensely satisfying, and they play off each other in a lot of really fun ways.

The basic premise of the game is that you’re an adorable little lamb who dies, but is offered a second chance at life by a monstrous creature. In this second chance, you are tasked with starting and managing a cult, while also taking down four major demons that lurk at the end of each of the game’s four dungeons.

Now, I say “four dungeons,” but what I really mean is “four dungeon tile sets.” There are four dungeon entrances, but each one leads to a randomly generated series of rooms (very much like The Binding of Isaac). In order to take on the final boss of a dungeon, you’ll have to run that dungeon four times. The first three times, you’ll take on minibosses, and once the minibosses have been vanquished, you can finally bring down the final baddy.

This sounds a lot more tedious on paper than it feels in practice. Because of the random nature of dungeon generation, you’re not really doing the same dungeon over and over again. Plus, dungeon runs are pretty short — on average, a dungeon run would take me about ten minutes.

Cult of the Lamb - Leshy

Once you’ve taken down the main baddy of a dungeon, you can return to it for a harder version that doesn’t end when you bring down the next miniboss. Instead, you’ll have a choice to either leave the dungeon or to delve deeper. You can take out all three of a dungeon’s minibosses in a single run this way — again, I want to emphasize that this is only doable after you’ve taken down the main boss.

As a dungeon crawler, Cult of the Lamb is really satisfying on its own, but in the meantime, you’re also in charge of managing a cult. You’ll recruit new members, usually by saving them from some terrible fate (like being eaten by a giant spider or being sacrificed by enemy cultists). And then you can instruct them to harvest resources for you, or to simply worship you to generate a resource called Devotion.

At first, your cult members will be pretty agreeable, but they also have a hunger meter you’ll need to keep full by making food, and a faith meter you’ll need to keep full by performing various actions that are viewed positively by your cult members. If a cultist gets too dissatisfied, they might rebel. They could leave the cult entirely, or they might just grab a bullhorn and try to convince other cult members to turn on you.

Of course, you can always murder dissenting cult members, then turn their corpses into fertilizer — or even food, if you’re into cannibalism. But if you get caught doing this, you could cause more cultists to dissent.

Cult of the Lamb - Sacrifice

Now, an element that makes all of this even more challenging is that all of your cult members age over time. No one is immune from death, and eventually every one of your followers will succumb to old age. So you need to keep recruiting fresh members while trying to prevent your current members from getting too freaked out by all the death that surrounds them.

There are side activities as well. For example, there is a dice game called Knucklebones, which allows you to gamble your gold and even earn exclusive Tarot Cards (which give perks inside dungeons). You’ll be doing a decent amount of farming at your home base, growing vegetables to keep your followers’ bellies full. There’s even a fishing activity, though it’s admittedly not very robust.

The thing that really makes all of this work is how well all these elements play off each other. Dungeon runs feel rewarding because you’re unlocking and earning resources that you’ll bring back to your cult. You’ll collect wood and stone in dungeons, for example, which you’ll use to build structures at your home base. And by expanding your cult, you’ll get better perks, which will help you better survive the later dungeons.

Cult of the Lamb - Bribe Follower

And the difficulty curve is really satisfying. During the first dungeon, you might feel like the game is way too easy, but once you enter the second one, the game will start throwing some more challenging enemies at you. And even then, once you learn enemy tells, you can probably button-mash your way to victory. But once you get to the third dungeon, you’ll need to have a well-honed strategy and some good reaction times. And you’ll really want to make sure you’ve leveled up your cult to max before you take on the fourth dungeon.

At the end of all of this, you’ll unlock a final gate that leads to the final boss of the game. I won’t spoil that fight for you, but it’s downright brutal. What I will say, though, is that your cult needs to have 20 current members in order to perform the ritual that unlocks this final battle.

I played this on a midrange gaming laptop, and even though I’ve been struggling to run a lot of games after updating to Windows 11, Cult of the Lamb still runs as smooth as butter. I’m guessing it probably runs just as smooth on consoles.

Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb is incredibly addictive, and it’s really well-made. I absolutely love everything about this game, and I’ve only stopped playing it because I have so many other games to review right now (I did put in more than 40 hours, and I did see the credits roll one time). But I really hope to carve out more time for this game, because it’s just so much freaking fun.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for Cult of the Lamb on Steam, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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