Cult of the Lamb review: Midsommar by means of Animal Crossing

Cult of the Lamb

MSRP $24.99

“Cult of the Lamb excels as a darkly comedic management game, though its roguelite component commits some cardinal sins.”


  • Excellent camp management
  • Intricate, interlinking systems
  • Clever use of cult tropes
  • Flexible difficulty


  • Weak roguelite motion
  • Hard to gauge hitboxes
  • Surface-level satire

For chunk of my Cult of the Lamb playthrough, I used to be an ideal leader. My flock of woodland cultists was living in harmony, merrily showing their devotion to a monstrous god. Then got here the lumber shortage. Inside just a few days, dissent began to stir in my ranks as I used to be unable to repair broken beds. By the point I harvested enough wood to repair the issue, I needed to make use of it to construct a jail as a substitute. It turned out that the road between paradise and nightmare was mighty thin.

Cult of the Lamb explores that balancing act through a darkly comedic premise pulled straight from the golden age of the corporate Newgrounds. It’s a hellishly addictive management game that revels in its religious farce like cultists prancing around a bonfire. But like my uneven stint as a pacesetter, it struggles to totally pull off the complex genre juggling act it sets out to realize.

A a lot better management sim than it’s a roguelite, Cult of the Lamb is at its best when it’s a bizarro world version of Animal Crossing (with more satanic rituals). I just wished I could order my followers to do my dungeon crawling chores for me.

Tending the flock

In Cult of the Lamb, players take control of an innocent lamb who gets suckered into running a cult for a chained god. The woolly hero is tasked with constructing a functioning commune, converting other animals into followers, and killing 4 rival gods which might be keeping its master imprisoned. It’s a zany premise that just so happens to be an ideal management sim setup, one which’s loaded with interlinking economies and robust progression hooks.

As my followers generated devotion by praying at my camp’s central shrine, I could use that resource to unlock structures that may very well be built with the wood and stone lying around. Inside an hour, I had some rudimentary beds for my followers, farm plots to grow food, a cooking station, and a temple to evangelise from. Like an efficient preacher, Cult of the Lamb is at all times teaching something latest, slowly making the each day routine busier without feeling suddenly overwhelming.

Animals live in a village together in Cult of the Lamb.

Every decision plays a vital role within the camp. Installing an outhouse stops followers from pooping within the grass, which might sow discontent amongst easily grossed-out animals. Once arrange, that waste might be collected from the lavatory and used to fertilize crops. Those crops turn into ingredients that might be used to cook meals, keeping everyone fed and blissful — unless you choose to cook a meal with that feces as a substitute. That level of intricacy runs through every system, allowing you to create a functional (or dysfunctional, for those who so select) society.

What’s especially impressive is that this is simply one layer of the management sim. On top of those usual city-builder hooks, the sport’s religious premise brings extra depth. You’re not only managing living conditions and hunger; you’re attempting to max out your flock’s devotion and harvest it like a resource. Perform a sermon and also you’ll get currency that helps you to buy everlasting upgrades for the sport’s combat section. Hold a ritual to bless the ocean and also you’ll have the option to get a bigger haul if you go fishing (conversely, you may declare a quick, which is able to lower the commune’s devotion but keep them from going hungry because it freezes their hunger meter). Faith is as much of a resource as wood, which is probably the sport’s toothiest morsel of non secular satire.

Cult of the Lamb surprisingly stands hoof-to-hoof with more “serious” systems-heavy games like Frostpunk.

My favorite piece of the sport’s vast web of systems is available in the shape of doctrines. After collecting three tablet shards, players get to place a latest law into motion. That lets them shape what type of cult they need to run, whether it’s benevolent or fearful. In my cult, I decreed that my followers could be grass eaters, allowing them to eat meals manufactured from grass without making them query their devotion. Later, I decreed that I could shake followers down for a tithe any time I wanted. Each decree riffs on different cult tropes, adapting them into impactful (and darkly hilarious) gameplay decisions.

That’s not even the underside of the barrel. I could go on about villager traits, quests, perk-granting necklaces, and more. For something that appears like a cartoon gimmick, Cult of the Lamb surprisingly stands hoof-to-hoof with more “serious” systems-heavy games like Frostpunk.


If the management sim is an angel on Cult of the Lamb’s shoulder, its rouglite element is its devil. There’s an motion component at the middle of the sport, where players set out on expeditions to kill those 4 gods. Like other games within the genre, players fight through a procedurally assembled set of rooms to slay one boss at a time. But like gardening or mining for stone, it’s more of a chore than anything.

There aren’t many compelling tests of skill in a run, even in boss fights.

Once I say “roguelite,” the emphasis is on the lite. Reasonably than doing one big run, players complete easy micro-expeditions that typically take five to 10 minutes to finish. That’s great for individuals who find games like Dead Cells too imposing, nevertheless it limits the appeal of the genre. As an illustration, much of the joys of games like Hades comes from experimenting with builds each run. Cult of the Lamb’s runs are so short and devoid of meaningful perks that I never got the sensation that I used to be constructing a robust toolset. Tarot cards, the sport’s version of relics, are inclined to only grant dull boosts like adding a half heart of health or upping attack strength by a hair.

Weapons are similarly lacking. There are just a few weapon types in the sport’s pool and a few classes to unlock (like vampiric weapons), but nothing really changes the best way I approach a room. Each one is a close-range melee weapon that has me hammering the X button to set free the identical short combo. The one difference is weapon speed, with slower weapons simply feeling disadvantageous because of enemy attack speed.

A boss shoots fireballs in every direction in Cult of the Lamb.

There aren’t many compelling tests of skill in a run, even in boss fights. Whether it’s a sub-boss or the massive bad of a biome, fights are matters of straightforward pattern recognition and bullet-hell dodging. That makes the sport far more friendly for individuals who hate bashing their head against a wall, nevertheless it’s lacking counterbalance to maintain runs interesting. After dozens of runs, I wanted I could discover a technique to assign a follower to do the dirty work for me.

I wouldn’t describe any of this as bad; it’s perfectly advantageous hack-and-slash gameplay. It just pales next to the intricate cult management, feeling like a tithe you might want to pay to benefit from the game.

Cult of personality

Cult of the Lamb’s most immediately notable feature is its cartoon art style, which just about makes it appear to be a grown-up flash game. The colourful and cuddly visuals give the sport its demented dark edge à la Joyful Tree Friends. It’s a straightforward to adore aesthetic, though I did find that the just about Paper Mario-like look made it difficult to gauge enemy hitboxes during battle.

I wish the experience had more teeth as a piece of satire.

The lovable visuals make for some fun dissonance when performing a blood sacrifice, but I wish the experience had more teeth as a piece of satire. Despite all of the references to cult clichés, the sport never has much to say in regards to the thing it’s lampooning. It’s mostly played for simple sight gags, which is surprising considering that it seems to have an actual bone to choose with blind devotion. The central story heads toward a fairly obvious conclusion from the get-go, one that nearly absolves players of any sins they’ve committed along the best way.

There’s still that inherent religious satire to its resource management, nevertheless it almost feels more practical as a darkly comedic Animal Crossing parody. Are the 2 games so different? Each have players making a comfy village for lovely woodland creatures, decorating the town to lift happiness and declaring ordinances. The one difference is the presence of god, which distorts the happy-go-lucky paradise right into a Midsommar-type situation.

Cult of the Lamb could have dug the sacrificial knife in a bit of deeper, nevertheless it still gets enough of the jugular.

Our take

Cult of the Lamb excels at delivering a multilayered management sim that uses its cult premise as far more than a twisted gimmick. It’s only let down by its middling roguelite gameplay, which seems to miss what makes the genre so appealing. Its satire could stand to be more direct, nevertheless it still takes enough pointed stabs at religious cults by turning devotion into an expendable resource. Pearls will likely be clutched.

Is there a greater alternative?

When you need a genre-bending roguelike that provides you more to do between runs, Hades is the gold standard. Moonlighter also fuses rouglite motion and management fairly well.

How long will it last?

That is determined by which difficulty level you choose, but a medium playthrough took me around 12 hours to finish.

Must you buy it?

Yes. Even when it doesn’t nail the roguelite genre, Cult of the Lamb is an addictive management game for the heretics on the market.

Cult of the Lamb was reviewed using a PC version running on Steam Deck.

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