A title like cult of the Lamb can easily live or die from the aesthetic that puts it at the center. So, hitting both the initial look and feel and the smaller artistic details is a must to ensure the game can stand out in the indie market. Luckily, developer Massive Monster didn’t just manage to get it cult of the LambThe aesthetics are right, but the gameplay doesn’t suffer from this success either.
The unique combination of roguelite dungeon crawling and town-building simulator comes together in a much more satisfying way than the concept might first appear. With all of Massive Monster’s achievements, however, there are still a few points where cult of the Lamb stumbles, although it rarely fails.
Based on many of the games that came before it, cult of the LambThe gameplay loop of sends players into procedurally generated dungeons where no two runs will be exactly alike. This is divided into two types of traverses that are reminiscent of the individual dungeon maps zelda Way of moving from static space to static space, along with the larger path leading from map to map. It’s a layered traversal system that allows players to fight as much or as little as they want and pick up materials to bring back to their town.
More important than the level design, however, is the combat, which will probably be the focus for most players cult of the Lamb starts. Mixing and combining different melee weapons and magical curses causes each run to take on a new playstyle as the player jumps into one of the four main dungeons. Combat is fluid and the rhythm of each weapon manages to keep the overall gameplay consistent, even when the attacks and combos are wildly different. Not to mention the dodge mechanics, which are incredibly satisfying, if a little unbalanced in the player’s favour. Of course, a lightning-fast dodge throw is one of the few perks the player gains when enemies start throwing attacks all over the map.
The complexity of combat is something that grows over time cult of the Lamb, first launching players against some easier cultists with limited attack patterns before quickly adding enemies that attack from afar with arrows and light bullets. At the end of the game, the combat takes notes from the genre by mixing the roguelite elements with bullet hell combat. Some boss fights and even random rooms turn into complete chaos, requiring players to track attack patterns from multiple sources simultaneously.
Other than that, the fight isn’t perfect. For example, cult of the Lamb doesn’t have as many weapons as other roguelikes like dead cells. Additionally, even the limited number of weapons has a few options that are lackluster. It’s the knife and claws in particular that fail to balance the pace of combat to offer higher attack speeds for lower damage per hit. Most notably, it’s the claws that fall a little short, as the player must reach the end of a combo before dealing any real damage. Considering that later in the game enemies don’t hang around long enough for a full combo, this particular weapon becomes its own hard mode.
Besides the roguelite elements, the game also serves as a town-building simulator with management of cult of the Lamb‘s title cult directly improves their chances of success in the dungeons. While the art design in the dungeons excels between the combat animations and boss designs, it’s at home in the cult where it really excels. Not only does the resource harvesting and follower management work well with the playful cartoon aesthetic, but the dark, iconic horror aspects also lead to some incredible animations.
When it comes to gameplay for these iconic segments, the pace of managing followers can get intense. This is largely because of how the three main components of management work cult of the Lamb continue working in the background while the player is in the dungeon. Too long an absence will result in cult members starving, falling ill if feces and corpses are not cleaned up, or abandoning them if their faith is not upheld. It all comes together as players have to tend to the individual needs of different followers, even going so far as to complete quests for them. Of course, cult members can also be sacrificed in a variety of ways if their specific needs become too great to handle.
While the roguelite elements and town-building elements are each successful on their own, the way the two genres blend helps cult of the Lamb stand out. On the more obvious side of this synergy, upgrading the cult can unlock new weapons and abilities that carry into the dungeons, making progression easier and more varied. However, the same works in the opposite direction, as the dungeons are where players will find the majority of their followers, while also serving as a source of materials to level up the cult. Being able to walk down paths to gather wood, stone or food not only avoids risky fights but can also be the key to gathering enough materials to build some earlier buildings.
All in all, cult of the Lamb is an impressive title that leans more closely to the roguelite genre than anything else, while still pulling all the essentials of the other genres that separate the games from the indie crowd. Not every feature or mechanic is perfect, and the story is more interesting as lore than narrative, but that doesn’t seem to be the developer’s primary focus. In this sense, cult of the Lamb succeeds where it counts, from the roguelite dungeons to the gritty cartoon aesthetic.
cult of the Lamb will be released on August 11, 2022 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. A PC code was provided to Game Rant for this review.
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