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Cult of Lamb Review: Baa Thou Not Afraid

I put Cult of the Lamb on my game of the year shelf next Elden Ring. The dark but cute cult simulator roguelike combines the best parts of Animal Crossing with all the fun of a dungeon crawling murder fest. The game’s unique way of combining these two disparate elements makes it more than worthy of claiming a spot on the 2022 Game of the Year list.

Cult of the Lamb begins with the titular lamb being offered up as a sacrifice to satisfy the hunger of a handful of eldritch gods resembling the parasites likely to live among the folds of Lord Cthulhu’s tentacles. As you tremble and cry, you are rescued at the last minute by another eldritchier looking god who promises you power if you do their bidding and kill the gods that try to eat you. Free and with great and terrible power, you recruit members for your cult and use the power of their faith to become strong enough to slay the four gods.

Screenshot of Cult Of The Lamb showing a lamb hovering in front of a bonfire as forest creatures dance around it in a ritual to appease the gods

Image: Solid Monster

Being a god is hard. There are so many prayers to answer and needs to be met.

At the beginning of the game you are given a base and your job is to fill it with as many followers as possible. It’s not enough for them that you can soar in the air with the blood pouring from your eyes shouting, “Don’t be afraid.” No. Your followers are a needy bunch, needing a whole host of other comforts that you and only you can fulfill.

Every action you take, whether it’s making food for your followers or cleaning them up when they poop or puke everywhere will increase their trust in you. If you ignore these needs, your followers will become angry and preach heresy.

I loved this part of the game. I’ve had so much fun meeting the needs of those cute little woodland creatures. As a god you can take two different paths with your followers. You can do your best to make them happy, or you can drain them of faith and throw away their withered chaff. Since I can’t make the mean choice in any game, I was the cold and benevolent god.

Screenshot of Cult Of The Lamb showing a lamb wearing a black crown of evil dancing with an elephant cult member in a faith ritual

Performing mini rituals with your followers increases their trust in you.
Image: Solid Monster

I kept my followers fed and happy. I never sacrificed anyone (on purpose at least – there were some…accidents), and I was proud that most of my followers who died did so happily, full and at a venerable age.

The follower/base building part of the game was so engaging. I hated being on a crusade for the Lord (more on that later) because I knew my people would starve and be angry if I came back. I really got into it, role-playing like I would if I had the chance to be a god. When you recruit a new follower, you can change their name and appearance. But I thought that was a bit too nosey for elements of evangelical Christianity. My religion was really “come as you are”, and that made me feel good, like I really maintained some kind of core belief that I feel real religion tries and fails.

You can get your followers to harvest the resources you need to build more buildings and decorations. For the longest time I plopped down my buildings where I had space, indifferent to layout and aesthetics. My camp was a haphazard mess at first, and since I hadn’t found a way to change the layout, I thought there was no point in being artistic. But then I discovered the “Move Building” button and I swore out loud, “Oh shit!” – as in, “Oh shit. My life is over. I’m about to lose so much time making the perfect base.”

I wish I had pictures of my base sooner, but trust me, it was an unstructured mess. But take a look at this:

Screenshot of Cult Of The Lamb showing the reviewers' near-perfect home with streets of gold lined with torches leading to a statue of the Lamb God

Image: Solid Monster

Isn’t this the most perfect city of god you’ve ever seen?

The other half of Cult of the Lamb is a roguelike. There are four dungeons, each with three mini-bosses and a final boss representing the four gods who tried to sacrifice you. At the start of each run, you’ll be given a weapon and a spell, and as you progress through the randomly generated dungeons, you’ll pick up new followers, building materials, and tarot cards that improve your skills.

While combat isn’t as engaging as all the social elements of the game, I didn’t like it any less. The weapons and spells are varied enough to make each run unique, and further expansion with tarot cards and special fleeces you earn later in the game made it fun to mix and match until I found the combination that felt right to me.

Boss fights can get a bit tedious with their occasional bullet hell attacks, but otherwise I’ve enjoyed every dungeon run. The game even encourages you to return to dungeons you’ve cleared to fight stronger monsters for bigger rewards.

Cult of the Lamb uses its two systems to create a gameplay loop that you could easily fall into and never felt annoying. I spent time with my cult, performed rituals, accepted quests, married, buried and recruited followers, then gave them camp duties. When my materials ran out, I made a quick trip to one of the dungeons with the ultimate goal of defeating the boss, but being content with getting all the new materials I needed or tarot cards I had yet to collect. Repeat to infinity, and friend it was terribly easy to repeat ad infinitum.

Screenshot of Cult Of The Lamb showing the Lamb dodging the attack of a boss's yellow orbs, arranged in frustrating patterns that make them hard to doge

Image: Solid Monster

And the rare times when I got bored with crusades and tinkering? Then I would fish or challenge followers to a game of knuckles. All the little things that have been put into this game seem to have been done with laser-focused precision. I don’t like games within games (I’m looking at you, Machine strike), but neither fish nor knuckles felt overwhelming or like an ad hoc system meant to fill the runtime.

Cult of the Lamb became a comforting, calming experience, as clearing up vomit and poo and putting down Cthulhuian abominations can be soothing. It was my bedtime game. I would play until my eyes couldn’t stay open or my Steam Deck’s battery died, whichever came first. And because I loved playing games, crafting the perfect combat gear, or redesigning my camp layout, it was largely the latter. I hate that the game is so short and how easy it is to max everything out. Unlocking the highest levels of buildings and powerups became trivial since I became efficient at gaining devotion from my followers. To contradict Machiavelli, in this case it is better to be loved than feared.

Speaking to the developers of Massive Monster, they hinted at content updates in the future, potentially adding more gods to kill, dungeons to crawl, and golden calves to tinker and worship. They told me they hope to continue to support Cult of the Lamb as long as people enjoy playing it. And with the news that the game, barely out of its first month, has already collected 1 million playersit is quite clear that the Lamb does indeed have its cult.

Cult of the Lamb is out now on Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Nintendo Switch.

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