Review: Gather Followers, Kill Non-Believers in Cult of the Lamb

There have been a few prominent trends in video games lately that seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum: hard roguelikes that challenge you as a player, and games in which cute animals live their cute animal lives while exchanging gifts. Developer Massive Monster asked the question no one else did: what would it take to mash those two types of games together? Apparently that  answer is violence and occultism, and I’m here for it.

Cult of the Lamb is an action roguelike with some colony management aspects  in which you play as lamb, sacrificed but enslaved by a demonic entity known only as The One Who Waits. Using your newfound immortality you must take arms and wield spells against non-believers while indoctrinating new followers into your cult and making sure they have all of the necessities so they remain loyal believers. The more followers you have, and the more loyal you are, the more powerful you can become.

Screenshot: Cult of the Lamb

The gameplay is broken up into a couple of sections. First, you have the action role-playing game section that reminded me of a mash-up of Hades and The Binding of Isaac—though it plays more like Hades, with a level layout and mini-map that is reminiscent of The Binding of Isaac. You fight from room to room, with different rooms potentially having new power-ups or an enemy/boss encounter. Combat in Cult of the Lamb is fun, and deadly.  At first, you can only take a few hits before death—but as your followers and powers grow, you will gain more hearts. And like The Binding of Isaac there are different types of heart containers—like those that replenish after picking up health, and those that serve only as temporary health. I really appreciate Cult of the Lamb’s action sections, though I feel like its colony management sections are a bit of a slowdown.

The other half of the gameplay is more of a colony management game. You gather followers during the action part of the game, but you have to build structures, farm, give gifts, and give sermons for your followers to be happy and remain loyal. Dissenters must be reeducated or sacrificed, lest the dissention spreads throughout your flock. You have to make sure each member of your cult has a place to sleep, food to eat, etc. And while the colony management is done well enough, I just never got into it. Working on my colony always felt like a chore—and even during the action sections you always have to look out for things that will help back at the farmstead. I’d rather just be culling the non-believers than worrying about my flock.

Screenshot: Cult of the Lamb

While Cult of the Lamb is broken into disparate parts, they work well enough together to keep the game fun. However, there is a ton of busy work to do, especially before you can get the upgrades necessary to automate those tasks. And while the action parts of Cult of the Lamb are better than most action roguelikes I’ve played, it doesn’t quite feel as fun or satisfying as Hades, nor does it have the crazy item synergy that you’ll find in The Binding of Isaac. But like those two games, there are lots of secrets to find, and fun boss encounters to conquer. If you’re interested in Cult of the Lamb, it’s definitely not going to disappoint.

Cult of the Lamb is available today for PC via Steam as well as PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.

A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.