Cult of the Lamb Review
Cult of the Lamb first entered our radar when it was announced last year by Massive Monster and Devolver Digital. The game features an unlikely combination of roguelite elements seen in Hades and Slay The Spire, mixed with community management simulators seen in Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, telling a story about a satanic lamb who starts a cult.
The plot gets a little off the rails as the titular Lamb is sacrificed by a council of bishops to prevent the return of The One Who Waits. Unfortunately for the bishops, instead of thwarting said god, the Lamb has been resurrected to start a cult. The Lamb then works towards releasing The One Who Waits by vanquishing each bishop guarding a chain link imprisoning the mad god.
As you build your cult from a group of followers, both gullible and zealous, you will gain power through their devotion and ultimately free The One Who Waits from its prison. Will you rule as a benevolent cult leader or turn into the monster the bishops accuse you of? Let’s dive into this twisted “Animal Crossing” and find out!
Sacrifice to Savior
Cult of the Lamb is one of those rare games that really captures your attention off the bat. You’re launched into a dark, creepy, and cute world that engages you with its simple but taut story about the last lamb about to be sacrificed. Once you’re resurrected and instructed to create a cult, you’re thrown into an accessible but simple community management sim.
Unlike many games of its type, Cult of the Lamb actually creates a simple yet engaging approach to onboarding you into the game. So many other roguelites either make it way too difficult to enter with steep learning curves (looking at you, Dreamscaper) or make it way too easy and then throw you for a loop with their steep difficulty spikes (looking at you, Crown Trick).
So many games don’t get it right, but Cult of the Lamb finds a perfect sweet spot.
It’s so accessible that the first full story arc of Cult of the Lamb is a huge tutorial session that takes you from setting up your cult to introducing various mini-games, the different basic mechanics of setting up your commune, all the way to taking out the first boss of the game. The best part is that it doesn’t leave you hanging just yet; the game keeps it manageable throughout the next arc, where mechanics are slowly drip-fed, preparing you for everything.
It took me a hard restart of Hades in order for me to get the rhythm going. For Cult of the Lamb, the game eases you into the rhythm for almost as long as it takes. Even the roguelite selections that push you to make difficult choices aren’t too tough. The choices and drawbacks at the starting tier of the many rituals and doctrines are quite easy and manageable; you’re asking yourself, “This game is too good to be true, when will the shoe drop?”
All the while, you’re getting used to the game loop: the friendly 5–10 minute crusades, the 5-minute daily rotation where you get into the rhythm of the cult life of giving sermons, helping out the commune, and feeding (and cleaning up) after your cult members. You even get attached to your cult as you level up your members and do favors for them (including feeding another cult member their own poop).
It’s cute, harmless fun, and while there’s something sinister going on with the god who resurrected you: what’s the harm, your life couldn’t be any better than this, right?
Well, things get dark. Sinister in fact.
Savior to Savage
When you think that you’ve had Cult of the Lamb figured out, the shoe finally drops when you least expect it, and your peaceful little commune that feeds each other poop on occasion suddenly makes a turn that you’ve been expecting from the start. Dissidents start to infiltrate your camp, infighting occurs, your leadership is called into question, and suddenly, you’re starting to sacrifice your members to your god.
You now have to be the cult leader your cult deserves.
The Crusades get more difficult and more daunting. You think the first couple of bishops are such pushovers, the rest of the bosses are going to take things lying down? Nope. They get worse, and they start to play dirty, and they start picking on your cultists. Suddenly, they start to starve, get paranoid, and wait ’til you see what The One Who Waits expects from you once you start failing more than once.
However, the difficulty spike of Cult of the Lamb felt gradual. It wasn’t as surprising, and it occurred at the right moment that you’ve been eased into this routine. This game does get challenging, and you have to figure out in the second half of the game which part’s got to give, because either you serve your god or you serve your flock. You can’t serve two masters at once.
I seriously loved this game from the get-go and I would say if this is your kind of humor, you’ll definitely gravitate to it. Thematically, Cult of the Lamb really blends the dark and light perfectly. While it does have that Animal Crossing motif, it’s more like adding a “Happy Tree Friends” mod to your Animal Crossing, which ups the violence, gore, mean-spiritedness, and other dark elements of the game.
Cult of the Lamb excels in replayability, especially after you’ve completed the main campaign, which is approximately 15-20 hours long. You can try different management styles with your cult, whether to be ruthless or a benevolent cult leader, and it’s always a surprise what you’ll get whichever choices you follow. If you don’t get attached to anything in this game, you’ll make the most of it, and really have fun with its chaos.
Most of the terror in the game is really left to your imagination, as the simplistic visuals leave a lot of room for your twisted brain to do the math. I seriously won’t recommend parents exposing this to really young kids (bigger kids may be able to take it), particularly those easily disturbed as much of the suggestive horrors are subliminal in nature.
What We Liked:
- Easy to start without it becoming overwhelming.
- A perfect blend of gameplay elements that make it fun with repeated replayability.
- A commendable balancing act of disturbing and lighthearted creepy cute themes.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Difficulty spike kicks in around the mid-point.
- Maybe keep the younger kids away from this one.
Verdict: Buy It!
Cult of the Lamb deserves a place in your library with its perfect blend of both thematic elements and gameplay mechanics. It’s a stupendous balancing act that takes its roguelite elements and community management and starts out as something simple and accessible, then expands to a robust and complex game that keeps you coming back for more.
Just like its cult themes, Cult of the Lamb draws you in with its creepy-cute charm, and even as chaos ensues, you watch it unfold like a slow-moving train wreck. When the shoe drops, you’ve realized that its tentacles have taken hold and you find yourself completely hooked on its dark and demented world.
Cult of the Lamb is my current favorite game of 2022 and a shoo-in for a Game of the Year contender.
*Cult of the Lamb was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publishers.