Cult Classic

2022's indie darling is way more than yet another roguelite dungeon-crawler

Praise the flock.

Originally Published: 
Cult members in front of their homes
Devolver Digital

Cult of the Lamb is part rougelite and part management sim. Note how I refrain from saying half and half.

Its similarities to Binding of Issac stood out to those craving a cute but creepy roguelike. However, once you dive in, it becomes more obvious that the half roguelike-half management sim tagline is a bit of a simplification. Exploring the Lands of the Old Faith (a.k.a., dungeons) are a necessary part of freeing your lord, the One Who Waits, and everything else related to that ultimate goal. Your job as a cult leader also includes defeating heretics, finding followers, and gathering resources. Dungeon-crawling just takes way less time than the city building and management portion of the game — and that’s not such a bad thing.

Most roguelikes challenge players to stay in the dungeons as long as possible. In Cult of the Lamb, each of my “Crusade Runs” through these dungeons averaged about 10 minutes from start to finish. It’s more like 75 percent management sim. Expect to give sermons, cook meals, build houses, clean poop, and make sure your Followers don’t get sick and die in general. Managing takes up even more time at the beginning of the game because your Followers won’t have as many “buffs” from your Doctrines yet.

Most combat in Cult of the Lamb involves hacking at enemies.

Devolver Digital

The cult runs on Devotion, which Followers generate from praying at the Lamb’s statue. Gain enough Devotion to earn “Divine Inspiration” for more crafting recipes and Doctrines to strengthen your cult members. For example, I chose to enact a “Fasting” doctrine so that I have the option to starve my Followers without them dying if needed.

Another metric called Faith determines your cult’s overall satisfaction, which helps to expand your influence and keep Followers in check.

There’s also a world outside of the cult’s base. Your mentor Ratau lives in the “Lonely Shack” area, where you can multiply your earnings in a dice-matching mini-game. After meeting them in a dungeon, a random fisherman invites you to an area called Pilgrim’s Passage where you can fish for seafood ingredients. The list goes on. When you’re not making sure your cult members stay alive, you’re exploring Cult of the Lamb’s little world or killing things in dungeons.

Farming becomes one of the chores necessary to run your cult.

Devolver Digital

Cult of the Lamb should still satisfy dungeon-crawling fans that don’t mind a more relaxed pace. It isn’t as hardcore as Binding of Issac or even Hades, but it works the same way with carefully picking weapons and buffs and timing your attacks to lose as little health as possible. You should try your best to make it out alive, especially since each “Crusade Run” is only about 10 minutes long. The times vary because you can control what you find in these dungeons and how many rooms you go through to an extent. The goal stays the same, though. If you die, then your followers think it’s lame and your cult loses a few Faith points.

Cult of the Lamb still needs you to treat it seriously enough to survive until the end of each run. It just happens to have a larger focus on building a cult, which indirectly means focusing on management more than combat. Sure, your overarching goal is to overthrow the four “false prophets” and free the One Who Waits. Just keep in mind you also need to take care of these dumb little guys that poop themselves every day.

Cult of the Lamb is available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

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