by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Do you Really Want to Hurt me?
Who doesn't love a cute hack-and-slash game along the lines of Castle Crashers? And who doesn't enjoy a cute management simulation along the lines of Stardew Valley? Who wouldn't want a combination of both? Cult of the Lamb is just that game – a game of two equally enjoyable parts that has players taking on the role of the titular lamb. Unfortunately for our main character, he was sacrificed by the four bishops of the Old Faith as part of their attempt to eradicate his kind. Luckily though, he has been given the chance to be resurrected by The One Who Waits, a devil-like character that only asks for one thing in return – for you to recruit followers to his cause.
The main way to recruit followers is to save them from having a similar fate to yours, and to rescue them from the four bishops and their minions. This is where the first portion of the game takes place, as you slash your way through a series of dungeons, each owned by one of the cruel bishops. Each time players start a run through the dungeons, they are given a melee weapon and a Curse. These Curses are primarily ranged attacks of various types that require Fervour to recharge, whilst your melee weapon will be a sword or axe.
Combat through the dungeons is rather simplistic, with players only requiring three buttons to effectively play – one to slash at enemies, one to roll towards or away from enemies, and one to perform the Curse attack. These simple combat controls allow the game to remain fun – even for the novice or younger gamer. Each of the areas within the dungeons have fewer than ten enemies to take care of, but it is the diversity in enemy types that keep the combat fresh. It is always a pleasant surprise to stumble upon a new enemy and to work out how best to defend their attacks and defeat them. Once an enemy is defeated, they will drop some Fervour which can then be used to charge your Curses or several other resources.
Although the combat is on the simpler side, it is rewarding to clear out an area of various enemies. This becomes further accentuated once you finally meet the boss character of each run – who is an enslaved captive of the bishops, or one of the bishops themselves. Each of the bosses have a combination of powers that are relatively easy to overcome once you eventually work out their patterns.
Although players start each run with a basic weapon and Curse, these can often be swapped with improved versions during the course of a run. These improvements can involve more powerful or quicker strikes, or they can be imbued with special effects such as poison that provides for a damage-over-time effect. These special effects as well as upgrades for our hero can be granted via a visit to a tarot card reader (or can sometimes be looted off fallen enemies).
Church of the Poisoned Mind
Once you have rescued the cute little animal creatures, they become indoctrinated to your cause and are sent to your cult's compound. From here they can be given tasks within your cultist village that will provide a range of resources. Keeping your devotees' happy plays out like a management sim along the lines of Sim City, albeit on a smaller scale. Managing each of the followers involves keeping them happy, through keeping them fed, well-rested and faithful.
This is done by constructing a range of buildings and decorations within your little village. Buildings include places for your followers to work and worship during the day and then places to sleep during the night. Players will also need to provide sustenance for their followers and will therefore require a place to cook.
All these buildings require resources, and our followers can be encouraged to mine the area for the resources such as timber and stone for buildings and farm for edible items such as berries and mushrooms. The edible items can then be used as ingredients in a range of recipes. Each of the recipes will provide a various degree of sustenance to your followers, with recipes that require more unique ingredients being able to provide better nutrition to your growing horde.
It's a Miracle
Having cultists who are happy means that they’ll create more devotion. Players can collect their Devotion from your shrine, and then once the required amount of devotion is gained, players can then unlock buildings that will help keep followers devoted to your cause. Constructing beds to sleep and other buildings to enable them to keep busy and productive furthers your cause as you build up your following. Players can also perform sermons to build up their devotion.
Unfortunately, each of the followers you recruit have varying attributes, which can make looking after them all a difficult affair at times. Some will be more willing to bend to your word, whilst others will take a little more coaxing to do your bidding. At times, they can even request that you complete quests for them, giving you a boost in their confidence in your ability as their leader. However, if their confidence wanes through poor management of the village or poor performance against the old bishops, some of them will start to seed dissent amongst the followers. Luckily, there are ways to address this – either through spiritualistic rituals designed to keep them in check, placing them in stocks for other followers’ amusement, or simply use them as sacrifices to The One Who Waits.
The level of detail in Cult of the Lamb is surprisingly deep. The combination of RPG-lite style adventuring and the management of your followers ensure that the game is never stale. With each run through a dungeon different from the previous run, gamers will encounter a range of enemies. Players will no doubt spend differing amounts of time with each depending on their personal preference, but I personally found myself managing my followers more than the hack-and slash portion of the game. Either way, the cute visuals, the awesome soundtrack and sound effects, and the fun simple combat means that Cult of the Lamb is a game that any budding cult leader should pick up.
As always, follow us on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.
Great mix of combat and cult management
Combat may be too simplistic for some players