Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor
Have you ever wondered what a game that mashed “Don’t starve,” “Animal Crossing” and “Binding of Isaac” together would look like? Created by the wicked minds of Monster and Devolver Digital, your journey in “Cult of the Lamb” begins when you are sacrificed to a group of four gods of the forest. In the afterlife, you have a fateful encounter with The One Who Waits, a fifth god who was betrayed and chained down by his own kin. He offers you a second chance at life and unfathomable power – but only if you do him a favor. What could that favor be, you ask? Well, what is a God without worshipers?
Having revived, you return to the forest with a mission. You are to defeat the four gods of the old faith, recruit cultists and build a new religion. At this point, the game splits into two. One part is a thrilling rogue-like dungeon crawler, and the other is a base building cult manager. Despite these features being drastically separate from each other, they are linked in helping you achieve your goals. For example, the cult management feature allows you to upgrade your fighting skills. The dungeon crawler aspect assists you in gathering resources, followers and information about the world at large.
The juxtaposition between creepy and cute vibes in “Cult of the Lamb” makes for a charming and fun experience. I like it when games make it known that they don't take themselves too seriously.
Combat is easy to get accustomed too. It stays varied enough as you choose from different weapons and spells you can obtain. Sometimes dungeon-crawling can become repetitive because the AI is basic with repetitive attack patterns. It gets even easier once you can summon demons as your partners in dungeons. For players who desire a more grueling challenge, they can turn up the difficulty anytime to make their playthroughs even more rewarding.
However, the game is not without a few pet peeves, mainly for the cult management segment.
You can’t play the role of the “nice” cult leader for too long, as unorthodox as it sounds. You can’t even go deeper than two dungeon cycles without your minions nearly starving to death or vomiting their guts out. In other words, your cult will need a lot of tender loving care before it can become a flourishing community.
Early on, you will have to do a lot of work for your base. You must preach in sermons and clean up after your brethren like a freeloader mooching off you in your house. No matter how much food the player makes before they leave, it will only get spoiled needlessly. And that rotten food will cause the cult’s health and faith to deteriorate. You will have to clean up after them and fulfill their requests if you want to keep everyone happy and loyal to you. If anyone would rather go off to explore first, they’ll have to tend to build up their cult first. But for those who are fans of the management simulation feature, you probably won’t have an issue with that.
Once you can balance out everything, the pacing improves. And sure enough, the game quickly becomes an addictive experience you can lose hours in. “Cult of the Lamb” was released on Aug. 11 for macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.