Cult of Lamb Review: Baa You’re Not Afraid
I put Worship of the Lamb on my game of the year shelf next door Ring of Elden. The dark but cute roguelike cult simulator blends the best parts of animal crossing with all the fun of a dungeon killing fest. The unique way the game combines these two disparate elements makes it more than worthy of claiming a spot on the Games of the Year 2022 list.
Worship of the Lamb begins with the titular lamb offered as a sacrifice to sate the hunger of a handful of eldritch gods who resemble the parasites that likely live between the folds of Lord Cthulhu’s tentacles. As you tremble and cry, you are saved at the last minute by another, weirder-looking god who promises you power if you do his bidding and kill the gods who try to eat you. Free and endowed with great and terrible power, you recruit members into your cult and use the power of their faith to grow strong enough to slay the four gods.
Being a god is hard. There are so many prayers to answer and needs to satisfy.
At the start of the game, you’re given a base, and it’s your job to fill it with as many followers as possible. It’s not enough for them that you can levitate in the air with blood streaming from your eyes, shouting, “Don’t be afraid. No. Your followers are a needy bunch, requiring a whole host of other creature comforts that you and only you can provide.
Every action you take, whether it’s cooking food for your followers or cleaning up after them when they poop or vomit everywhere, increases their trust in you. If you neglect these needs, your followers will get angry and start preaching heresy.
I loved this part of the game. I had so much fun tending to the needs of these adorable little woodland creatures. As a god, you can take two different routes with your followers. You can do your best to make them happy, or you can drain them of their faith and throw away their withered husks. As I am incapable of making the wrong choice in any game, I was the cold and benevolent god.
I kept my followers fed and happy. I never sacrificed anyone (on purpose, at least – there were…accidents), and I was proud that most of my followers who died did so happy, full and at a venerable age .
The follower/base building part of the game was so appealing. I hated going on a crusade for the Lord (more on that in a minute) because I knew my people would be hungry and angry when I returned. I really got into role-playing like I would if I had the opportunity to be a god. When you recruit a new subscriber, you can edit their name and appearance. But I felt that was a little too over the top for elements of evangelical Christianity. My religion was really “come as you are”, and it made me feel good, like I was really upholding some kind of core belief that I feel true religion tries and fails.
You can make your followers harvest the resources you need to build more buildings and decorations. For a very long time, I planted my buildings where I had room, without worrying about layout and aesthetics. My camp started out as a messy mess, and I figured, since I hadn’t found any way to change the layout, 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 waste so much time creating the perfect foundation.
I wish I had pictures of my base before, but trust me it was an unstructured mess. But look at this:
Isn’t this the most perfect god city 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 an end-boss representing the four gods who tried to sacrifice you. At the start of each run, you’re given a weapon and a spell, and as you progress through randomly generated dungeons, you’ll pick up new followers, building materials, and tarot cards that boost your abilities.
While the combat isn’t as engaging as all of the game’s social elements, I found it no less fun. Weapons and spells are varied enough to make each run unique, and further augmentation by tarot cards and special fleeces you earn later in the game made mixing and matching fun until I find the combination that suits me.
The boss fights can get a bit tedious with their occasional hellish attacks, but I otherwise enjoyed every dungeon run. The game even encourages you to return to dungeons you’ve cleared to fight tougher monsters for greater rewards.
Worship of the Lamb leverages its two systems to create a gameplay loop that was easy to fall into and never tedious. I spent time with my cult, performed rituals, accepted quests, married, buried and recruited followers, then assigned them to camp-related tasks. Then, when my materials ran out, I’d take a quick trip to one of the dungeons with the ultimate goal of beating the boss, but just earning any new materials I needed or tarot cards I didn’t. hadn’t recovered yet. Repeat endlessly, and my friend, it was very easy to repeat endlessly.
And the rare occasions when I got bored doing crusades and tinkering? Then I fished or challenged my followers to a game of jacks. All the little stuff stuffed into this game seems to be done with laser-like precision. I don’t like games within games (I’m looking at you, Mechanical Strike), but neither fishing nor knucklebones felt overwhelming or like an ad hoc system meant to increase runtime.
Worship of the Lamb has become a comforting and calming experience to the extent that cleaning up vomit and poop and taking down Cthulhui horrors can be soothing. It was my evening game. I was playing until my eyes couldn’t stay open or my Steam Deck’s battery died, whichever came first. And because I loved playing so much, creating the perfect combat loadout 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 power-ups has become trivial since I became efficient at extracting devotion from my followers. To contradict Machiavelli, it is better, in this case, to be loved rather than feared.
Speaking with the developers of Massive Monster, they hinted at content updates in the future, potentially adding more gods to slay, dungeons to explore, and golden calves to craft and worship. They told me they hoped to continue supporting Worship of the Lamb as long as people like to play it. And with the news that the game, fresh out of its first month, has already amassed 1 million players, it’s pretty clear that the Lamb does indeed have its cult following.
Cult of the Lamb is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Nintendo Switch.
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