Cult of the Lamb

released on Aug 11, 2022

Cult of the Lamb casts players in the role of a possessed lamb saved from annihilation by an ominous stranger, and must repay their debt by building a loyal following in his name. Start your own cult in a land of false prophets, venturing out into diverse and mysterious regions to build a loyal community of woodland worshippers and spread your Word to become the one true cult.

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I absolutely did not enjoy my time playing Cult of the Lamb.
The game starts off with a simple enough premise: you're a little lamb being sacrificed to four religious leaders because some really big scary dude will come back or something, but after the sacrifice the big dude brings you back to life and instructs you to build a cult in order to grow more powerful and kill the four religious leaders so that the big dude can come back. He gives you a crown. The crown can turn into a sword, a knife, claws, an axe, and various tools. You're given a home-base, and a level-select hub-world-type area to open the door to the first "world."
Then the gameplay loop begins.
God damn I hate the gameplay loop of this game.
I've read some takes from other reviewers on this site I respect saying things like "gameplay loops are inherently suspicious" and, while there are better more egregious examples of games with capital-O Obvious gameplay loops, I think Cult of the Lamb is an excellent example of a game with a fucking horrendously obvious gameplay loop.
In short, there are two core sections of the game:
1. Binding of Isaac-but-worse roguelike dungeon dungeon.
2. People-farming.
You do these as far as you can, and when you get to the end you win!
In long, Massive Monster put these two core sections next to each other in the most annoying way possible. You go on a "Crusade" to "purge the heretics" and "convert" any new potential followers to your cult, collecting miscellaneous resources along the way. Then you go back to your cult, do your dailies (I detest this fucking term), run out of resources, and then go back on another crusade until some kind of emergency by no direct fault of your own (aside from deliberately playing the game, which I would argue is very much your own fault) forces you to go check on the cult. Maybe someone died? Bury the body or collect meat. Someone's starving? Gotta make food and farm more. Poop everywhere? Gotta clean. Faith level low? Fix it. Health level low? Fix it. Issue? Fix it. And the loop repeats itself ad nauseam.
Listen, I do chores in my own home already. I've played enough Animal Crossing and had enough "chore simulator" arguments for one lifetime. I have no problem with a game having chores in it, but there has to be some kind of tangible payoff if you're gonna put a checklist of chores in a video game. And by nature of it being a CULT, "Smiling Happy Faces" and undying loyalty from cult members you "rescued" is a fairly fucked up reward. It could be argued that this is the point, but it doesn't make for a fun video game to me. I play video games for fun.
I'm glad I brought up Animal Crossing just there, because the satisfaction I get from creating a "neat and tidy" "home" for my cult members is on-par with the feeling I got from molding the island to my every whim and desire with no real consequences in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
And that's completely ignoring the combat half of the game.
The combat half is fine. Not great. Fine. It would be even better were it not constantly interrupted by the day-night cycle and the people farming gameplay loop. I get that this was probably a deliberate design decision, but it's a decision that actively interrupts progress for no reason other than to remind you that you've got "people at home."
In contrast, the lessons I'm picking up from the gameplay hints that this game is dropping via the pressure of time, aging cult members, and the sheer number of times it suggests doing mean things to your cult members, is to view my cult members as dispensable.
No matter how much you'd like it to be, this isn't a family. You're collecting pawns. You're repeatedly given choices that seem to imply otherwise, but just remember: this is the all-messed-up cute animal game.
Absolutely depthless.
There's very little actual direct involvement from your cult while you're fighting. You're just getting stronger through the farming gameplay loop giving you more points to get more resources to get more upgrades to get more point generators to get more points and you get the idea. They're separate, except that the game will remind you that the other exists and needs tending to, so they're forced to exist together. Actually separating it from the farming half completely, the enemies and bosses are unremarkable and, with some minor exceptions, there aren't all that many core differences between weapons and curse types.
The closest immediate comparison I have of a game integrating combat and farming together well that I actually enjoy is Pikmin. Literally any of them. There's an element of direct resource/people management in both Cult of the Lamb and Pikmin games, and, while they are completely different genres with the former being a farming-sim roguelite and the latter being an RTS game, I just think Cult of the Lamb is somehow way worse about both creating a consistent element of emotional attachment to your "underlings" (which could be argued is the point of the whole game, which is even worse) and the collecting element. It wants you to exploit them as much as you can, and there's no option not to. It doesn't even bother pretending like you're capable of making moral choices here, you know what you are and you know what you're doing.
It has about as much subtlety as, I don't know, what's a good example...
Yeah, that's a good example.
I don't mind a game portraying religious extremism and cult behavior, but if your gameplay is mid, at least have literally anything to say about your subject matter.
Whatever. Cute marketable lamb character doing weird things a cute marketable lamb character wouldn't normally be doing, very clever and never been done before. Twitch streamers delight. Money all around.
Anyway, just play Binding of Isaac again instead of getting this.
If I'm gonna play twitchcore bullshit, it should at least be good.

neither fish nor fowl
imagine combining tycoon-game about building a cult and a game like Binding of Isaac
on paper that might sound fun, in reality its just two unfinished games
you go in to the dungeon - fighting is superficial
you try building your cults base - you guessed it, the mechanics are superficial
the visuals are great tho, really
buy it on sale, if you're a fan of games like Binding of Isaac

É fofo, tenebroso e extremamente divertido. A devolver sempre sabe o que faz. Cult of the lamb tem uma história divertida, gameplay divertida e a estética maravilhosa.

Got near the end, but stopped for whatever reason. It was alright though

Jogo divertido, toda a parte de simulação da vila funciona muito bem, só acho que faltou um pouco mais de conteúdo nas partes de luta do jogo.