When I first started Cult of the Lamb, I had no idea that I would be responsible for cleaning up this much trash. Surprisingly, both types of gameplay may coexist in this one game, the core of which is a base-management simulation masked as an action roguelike. Even if the battle scenes weren’t challenging enough to keep me going back when the credits rolled, I still had a lot of fun playing this game.
I am overjoyed to have successfully completed this sinister ritual, and I think that the game’s endearing art style and unexpected variety of optional minigames contribute to the game’s overall sense of character, despite its rather predictable progression. In the video game Cult of the Lamb, you play the role of a cult leader who has recently been resurrected by an unknown god who is only referred to by the name “The One Who Waits.”
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You must now persuade more people to join your master’s cause, build a stronghold for the flock to reside in, and lead them in bloody crusades against the supernatural forces that have him imprisoned. The game manages to inject a little bit of joy into every corner of its ruthlessness, which makes the loop of gathering supplies, tending to your worshipers, upgrading both your character and your homestead, and then going out to do it again extremely satisfying. With a charming art style and expressive animations, the game manages to do this.
Cult of the Lamb is a rogue-lite dungeon crawler, and as you gain power throughout your playthroughs, the game alters both the layout of its levels and the items you collect between playthroughs. However, direct comparisons to other games such as Hades or Rogue Legacy could be a little bit misleading. Each mission is generated at random, and while it is possible to play it multiple times, it is significantly shorter than the others, typically lasting no more than ten minutes.
In Cult of the Lamb, the familiar roguelike tension of seeing how far into the gauntlet you can manage to make it every time is absent. This is due to the fact that at the beginning of each run, you choose which of four disconnected areas to fight through, and there is a boss waiting to be defeated at the end of each of these areas in order to finish the story.
Even though these tiny detours aren’t always a bad thing, they did require me to spend the majority of the game’s 13-hour playtime not wielding a weapon but rather working on extending my base and completing side quests for NPCs. This was a frustrating experience. Both in terms of its genetic make-up and the way it is played, one could make the case that Cult of the Lamb is more closely connected to a management game like Oxygen Not Included than it is to a game like Dead Cells. This is true regardless of the genre of the game being compared.
My actions on the hunt weren’t always motivated by my wishes; rather, they were driven by the requirements of my hard-working cultists back at base. That’s a great company to be in, and I loved the fact that it kept my focus on the mission at hand.
However, this does not mean that the actual combat is not enjoyable on its own. It’s not exactly a deep system, but what it does offer is perfectly tuned, which makes up for the fact that you only have access to one attack button, a one-of-a-kind “curse” power, and a roll-dodge option. Particularly pleasant is the game’s reactivity, which allows you to avoid well-telegraphed hits from enemies as you swiftly make your way through chambers full of cultists and creatures.
This adds an extra layer of challenge to the experience. You can also find a range of weaponry, curses, and tarot card-based bonuses that can help spice up your adventures as you travel through the campaign and get closer to its climax. The most significant drawback is that at the beginning of each crusade, a random weapon and curse will be selected for you, and you will have no input in the matter regarding which ones you will face.
The normal sword and harder-hitting ax are consistently great against the incredibly mobile enemies in Cult of the Lamb, but the irritatingly slow hammer and the gloves (which deliver the most of their damage only on the final strike of their attack combo) are ill-suited. Some curses are powerful blasts with a wide area of influence, while others simply release a large quantity of ineffective slime.
Because most runs only last a short amount of time, I frequently found that my patience was wearing thin as I was attempting to battle a boss who had been severely hindered by a low roll at the very beginning of the run.