EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Adam Nix
previewed on PC
Place of Worship
Cult of Lamb places you in the role of a lamb who was brought back to life by a nightmarish god. In return, this lamb is asked to amass a following to worship them. Starting with just a single follower and a statue to pray at, players work to build a cult from the ground up.
At a high level, gameplay is broken up into two parts - cult management and adventuring.
On the cult management side of things, players must recruit more and more cultists to help worship their mysterious god. Along with recruitment, you need to provide food, shelter, and work for your followers. Keeping your cultists happy and engaged provides for more faith and devotion, two currencies used to upgrade and level up your camp or specific items in the adventuring portion of the game.
Outside of managing your followers, you can build all sorts of temples, farms, and decorations to turn your small camp into the culty commune of your dreams. Even in this preview, I was given a ton of freedom to build out a little farm, cook a large assortment of foods for my followers, and decorate my camp with different flooring, lamp lights, and shrines.
When you aren't managing a village of cultists, you will embark on dungeons that involve fighting other cultists and gods. These randomly generated dungeons provide for a true roguelite experience. Running from one area to another, players amass upgrades, new weapon types, and materials to bring back to your cult.
The gameplay loop is extremely satisfying in that every time you go adventuring, whether you survive or die, you will come back with more material that will help you build new things, take care of your disciples, and level up different skill trees in your home base. Once you've done everything you can at home, you run back to the dungeons to fight off some more rival cults.
There does seem to be a light story associated with the dungeoning portion of the game. Each time you make a new run, you find more out about other cult groups and the mysterious figure you've devoted your life to. You'll also run into quirky shop keepers and mystical preachers that
provide you with upgrades for your run or items to bring back to your cult. This, paired with randomized areas, provides for unique experiences on every run.
The preview code provided for a good amount of weapons and spells to choose from when dungeoning. From speedy knives to heavy axes, there seems to be enough variety to really curate the combat to your liking. I personally found faster weapons to be much more satisfying than strong and heavy ones. At times, I did get worried that the combat might get a little dull. Although it usually felt smooth, I sometimes felt like the hit boxes didn't always match the weapon animations as I'd expect them to. I also found most every boss battle in it to feel samesy and simple. Even the final boss in that area was a bit of a disappointment. Coming from other roguelites like Spelunky, Hades, and Dead Cells, I was hoping for more of a challenge.
My only other concern relates to managing your upgrades. When managing your cult between dungeon runs, there are at least 3 upgrade trees, multiple item and upgrade types specific to the dungeon, different shop keepers to visit, and countless other features and mini games strewn through this preview.
Bigger than Jesus?
The amount of stuff packed into this game gets me excited, but it makes me a little nervous too. At times, I could see some of the progression you need to make in this game feel like a bit of a chore down the line. The different upgrade trees just felt a little disjointed and disorganized at times. I am sure that it will become much clearer as I play the game more, but jumping between a bunch of different upgrades and skills when I hadn’t eked out any kind of strategy for the game felt unwelcoming and overwhelming.
Even with my concerns over the cohesiveness of the game and the ease of combat, I am so excited for the full release of this game. I’d say that is a pretty small complaint, and even something many people will be hoping for. I fully expect to pick this up shortly after its release and would recommend others to keep a close eye on this one.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.