Cult of the Lamb Review - a captivating roguelike cut short

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I'm a huge fan of roguelike games. The random element of the games always keeps me interested and wanting to play more. I'm always wanting to chase the random power fantasies that are possible, even if it's only for that run.

Cult of the Lamb really scratched the itch for the roguelike experience for me, but in a really unexpected way. It nails the typical tropes, brings in a new addicting element, but there's one minor problem.

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That being said, that little flaw hasn't stopped many from flocking to this incredible game, hitting over a million players in it's first week out. It's definitely warranted because Massive Monster and Devolver have a real gem on their hands.

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A heartwarming but brutal aesthetic

sacrifice ritual in cult of the lamb

I'd be remiss to not first talk about the overall aesthetic of this game. From the onset, we're greeted with a dark, but cartoony art and animation style. From the dark lords to the various monsters, it's rather creepy. Heck, even when you recruit followers, they get dropped into a void via a teleportation circle. But once you make it back to your settlement, everything is cute, fun and adorable.

When you're going on your expeditions through the randomized maps, the aesthetic is dark, gloomy, and uncertain, which really fitting and really sets the mood. Back in the settlement, most things are bright and beautiful. The one thing that is a bit dark in town is when you sacrifice a follower during a ritual. I won't spoil exactly what happens, but it was pretty brutal.

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gameplay screenshot in cult of the lamb

The gameplay is smooth

A key part to these isometric, combat focused games is that it's gameplay is smooth and fun, and Cult of the Lamb nails this completely. Combat is fast paced, the animations are smooth and satisfying. Movement in this game also feels great with the dodge ability being very flexible. It really harkens to the style of combat similar to Hades. It's very much hack and slash, with great movement and you can't really find fault with it.

When you're in your settlement, the gameplay does slow down a bit. The settlement and the town building aspect is what's quite unique to this game. Building up your town and followers, structures, resources and more really gives the game a nice break from the action. There were a few small hiccups with placing specific things down on the map, but I chalk that up to me using a keyboard and mouse, rather than the recommended controller.

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a picture of a settlement in cult of the lamb

Your progression is meaningful

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In these kinds of games, finding ways to progress your character to take on more challenges in the game is really important. You want your progression to be meaningful, impactful and reasonably fast paced. But this goes beyond upgrading your character's power in runs, you also upgrade your settlement's amenities to improve the lives of your followers. This in turn helps you upgrade your character.

The core part of settlement upgrades is gathering resources. You'll get wood from trees and stone from rocks, and there are automated gathering hubs for these resources. You will find that wood is a pretty valuable resource, as your core structures are based around that, but once you get a good supply going, upgrades come quick.

Speaking of the settlement, the possibilities of how you go about building up your settlement are endless. Where you place things, what structures you build, how you collect devotion and resources, even what doctrines you choose can vastly change how you play this portion of the game.

You feel vested in the story

Bringing everything together, we're left with the story. The story is built around your character being saved from death, and the monsters who were going to execute you are very same who imprisoned your savior. But you are given some incredible powers, set off to build a following, and defeat the monsters who set to kill you.

As you start to gain followers, you can't help but get attached to them, wanting to give more to them. While yes it's to benefit you, but you start to feel for these followers. This just keeps you wanting to play more and more.

Something is missing

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Let's get this clear, this isn't necessarily a flaw per say, but there is something missing from this game. Once the game's story is complete, the real end game becomes building up your cult and unlocking all of your upgrades. Yes you can go back through the combat runs again, tackling three full stages at a time. But once you've gotten everything, there's not much left to it afterwards.

But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. This leaves the door open for DLC to be developed and add on to the story. What I would have loved to have seen though is maybe an endless run mode, and challenge modifiers to augment your runs, something similar to Hades yet again. This would give the game another avenue of replayability for me, to just let me blast runs and up the challenge on those runs. But again this could be something to come in a DLC.

Overall though, Cult of the Lamb is a masterpiece of a game. It's very easy to pick up and get hooked on, and everything that an action roguelike is meant to be, it does well. While there is some post story progression, I wish that there was a challenge mode.

Cult of the Lamb is a masterpiece, but is missing one key feature
Cult of the Lamb is a masterpiece of an action roguelike game. It's fun, engaging, has a beautiful but brutal aesthetic, and is absolutely worth a playthrough. It's missing some replayability in my eyes, but it's overall a stellar title.
PC
Switch
Playstation