Few games make a strong first impression like Cult of the Lamb. It hooked us within a minute, and we were ecstatic about the game for the better part of 20 hours or so. It’s an often delightful title, with an engaging tone, creepy gameplay, and a knightly attitude to taste and decency. There are only a few hiccups that prevent it from being truly great, but we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this game to anyone who likes weirdness or horror.
The artistic style of the Lamb Worship is truly striking. It’s a mash-up of purity and worldly evil. The Lamb is an immediately sympathetic character, both because of its cuteness and its stellar animation that keeps it bouncing forever, not unlike many cartoon characters in the early days of animation. However, the world inhabited by the Lamb is full of grotesque and scary creatures, and the game is full of pseudo-Satan imagery.
It’s a game we found ourselves watching repeatedly as we played it.we mean really just look at There – poring over details on the screen, gleefully watching our adored woodland creatures go about their daily lives, performing sometimes wholesome, sometimes repulsive tasks. The balance between captivating and repulsive is at the heart of Cult of the Lamb, not only in its aesthetics, but throughout the story, gameplay, systems, and decisions you have to make.
The game begins with you guiding the lamb to the slaughterhouse. It staggers and fears, and we find it is also the last of its kind, and all the other lambs have been sacrificed to appease the four evil, bloodthirsty gods. Here comes the Axe-man, our lamb is sent unceremoniously to the great beyond, where it meets the fifth god, betrayed and imprisoned by others, and seeks your help in fighting back against those with the most nasty way of harming your people.
You are resurrected by fallen gods, but only on the condition that you start a cult in its honor and murder each of the four gods so you can be free. From now on, you’ll be allocating your time to running the cult and battling the gods you’ve sworn to kill. You can also do some small exploration of your island and take part in some mini-games, but the meat and potatoes of Cult of the Lamb are presented succinctly during these opening hours.
The battles in the game are simple but challenging. You have weapons and you can hit things with them. You can also roll to dodge. As you progress, you’ll unlock magical attacks, weapons that become more powerful or contain various additional properties, such as poison or turning your vanquished foes into ghosts and then attacking your foes. You make your way through dungeons and you’ll fight various monsters before finally reaching a boss, and then you’ll move on to the next one.
While the combat is certainly engrossing and tougher than we expected, the lack of weapon variety and limited options at your disposal means it never seems to really progress. Sure, enemies will fire more projectiles and your sword or hammer will be more powerful, but what you do in fifteen hours is basically the same as what you did in the first hour. That’s not bad anyway, but more variety wouldn’t hurt.
Whether you succeed in the dungeon or hit a tricky ending, either way, you’ll be sent back to the cult afterwards. If you’re killed in battle and then resurrected, some of your cult members will be disheartened, otherwise there’s no real death penalty. When you’re on a crusade, your cult members will do their best to keep things running smoothly, but there’s more you can do once you’re back.
You have a piece of land at your disposal and you can build on it as you see fit. Your cult starts small and at first you need to mine some stones and cut down some trees to give you materials to build some rough structures. Later, you can automate the process with mines and lumber mills. You need farmland, toilets, and a place to worship.
Later, you’ll begin to unravel the teachings and rituals that help shape your cult, and you’ll often have to make the decision to choose one direction over the other. For example, you can introduce your flock to the idea of a ceremonial funeral in case any of them chokes it off, and mourn or even bury the survivors on a tombstone. Or you can tell them to go stew and eat their recently deceased friend. Can’t be wasted.
The administrative aspects of the game are pretty straightforward, once you build a large cult, it loses momentum at the end of the game. It’s never too laborious, and if any of your cult members get out of hand, you can always get them killed. Speaking of cult members, when you’re starting out, you’ll probably want to make a follower that looks like a kitten and names it after a beloved pet. One word: don’t. We made the mistake of having to beat little Colin to death when a cruel god manipulated him to turn on us. The situation is dire.
Cult of the Lamb is a game that is far more than the sum of its parts. Neither the combat nor the cult management are enough for the title, but together they make for a compelling whole, which is then further enhanced by a pleasing art style and a sinister tone everywhere. It’s evil and wonderful, and a little unhinged. It’s also one of the most impressive games of the year.