We’re warned of cults – nothing good ever comes out of them. But when it comes to video games, almost anything goes, right?
“Cult” by definition (and according to Collins dictionary) is a fairly small religious group, especially one which is considered strange.
And boy, strange is an absolute understatement here.
Cult of the Lamb was created by the team at Massive Monster, which is spread across Melbourne and Malaysia.
Did you ever see Happy Tree Friends in the early 2000s? Well, Cult of the Lamb is Happy Tree Friends – but taken to the next level.
It’s also seemingly a hybrid of some of the best games of the last few years; Hades, Animal Crossing, Dead Cells, Stardew Valley, and Death’s Door – all mashed together to create brilliance.
Cult of the Lamb sees a cute fluffy lamb, destined for death, saved by an unknown satanic being known as “The One Who Waits”. The lamb was saved, but the trade-off? You must start a cult and grow a following in its name.
There are a few ways to play the game.
Create the evilest cult possible, punishing and sacrificing your cute followers for next to no reason other than to gain more power.
Create a loyal cult that worships you for all the “good” you do.
Lastly, you can stay somewhere in the middle, sacrifice here and there but largely treat your followers with love and respect.
In my first playthrough I chose the latter. Of course, I wanted to grow my cult in the most productive way, but honestly, I felt guilty killing off my followers!
Despite the sacrificial nature of the game, as I mentioned, it doesn’t have to be played that way – to my partner’s great relief. She hated the thought of sacrificing a cute, wide-eyed animal for evil gain.
Your followers, once saved, can be named and have their appearance customized. There are dozens of great little character skins. You could choose to have an entire cult of bee followers or turtles, or you can just keep them how they looked when you rescued them.
The followers will help you grow your camp into a village by doing your every bidding. To find more followers you need to set out on a crusade – and here is where it gets intense (depending on your difficulty level).
The combat in this game is very similar to Death’s Door and Hades, with a gear system not too dissimilar to Dead Cells. Each crusade run is essentially a reset and will see you pick up a new weapon and magic ability (or curse).
Roll, slash, and cast curses at your enemies until the room is clear. Then collect your reward from the magic chest and move into the next room.
The boss battles get tougher the further you make it through the game’s story (as you’d expect), these Jabba the Hutt-like bosses transform into some a kind of Resident Evil nightmare.
The main bosses usually follow the same formula, blasting hundreds of deadly fireballs and spawning enemies like they’re going out of fashion – it can get chaotic in the best way.
Each little crusade took me around 10-15 minutes, which includes entering every room and smashing it to bits to get as many resources as possible.
Your weapons and curses get better the larger your cult grows, and your follower’s faith allows you to upgrade those abilities.
If you love games with collectibles and upgrades – keep reading.
Along your journey, you’ll find new resources, from farming seeds to lumber, gold and stone. All of these things can be used to build and upgrade your cult camp, and it’s there I had the most fun.
The further you progress through the game, the more resources you unlock.
When it comes to farming, you start off with the basics, unlocking different kinds of crops along the way. Starting with the humble berry bush and working your way up to pumpkins, beetroots, mushrooms and cauliflower.
Farming in the game starts off slow, but being able to eventually upgrade your farms and farming equipment to speed things up and automate them a bit was incredibly satisfying.
All the food you grow is used to make meals for your followers, you need to make sure their hunger levels stay at a healthy level, or else they’ll all get sick and subsequently die.
There are dozens of meals on the menu. Starting out with a bowl of grass, you can work your way up to a healthy, hearty bowl of vegetables and meat.
Once your followers eat, they’ll also need to go to the bathroom. So be prepared to clean up some special kinds of mess.
There are also some nasty meals and food requests from followers that had me laughing, but also felt a bit sick to the stomach. I’ll leave it to you to work that out.
Each time a follower dies you can hold a funeral for them, allowing your followers to grieve. This was such a nice touch.
Then depending on which path you take, there are unnatural abilities to keep them alive.
Aside from the general cult managing life and dungeon crawling, there are a few other mini-games to enjoy for some downtime – many offering big rewards.
Fishing, collecting, various follower quests, and my personal favourite; knucklebones.
In general gaming, there aren’t too many of these sorts of bonus games that I gravitate towards.
Whether it’s Gwent from The Witcher or Elder Scrolls Online’s Tales of Tribute – there was just something different about Knucklebones’ simplicity had me from the first roll.
Rolling dice to match your opponents, matching rolls doubles your score – I’m sure it’s based on a real-life game, but this was just as enjoyable as every other game element.
As your move through the game, you’ll meet new and interesting characters who serve as Knucklebones’ opponents. Oh, and it was also a great way to get a bit of extra coin in the game.
Eventually, I’m talking 15-20 hours in, your cult will be thriving, leaving you with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment.
The game will be available on all platforms come August 12, including Nintendo Switch, and despite reviewing Cult of the Lamb on PC, I’d say it’s the perfect Switch title.
There’s already one DLC available from launch, the Cultist Pack. It’s an extra $6.95 on Steam and gives you a few more follower skins and decorations for your camp.
And while there are no details, there’s already confirmation of two ‘substantial’ content updates for the future.
Personally, I’d love to see an Australian animal pack, with a Koala, Kangaroo, Platypus, and Echidna. After all, this game was partly made in Australia.
Cult of the Lamb is beyond adorable, it’s funny, it’s creative, the art style is a standout and it is without a doubt one of my favorite games of 2022.
It’s not often a game like this comes along and ticks every box, it’s safe to say Cult of the Lamb is one of the best indie games I’ve ever played.
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