It’s finally here, one of the most anticipated indie games of the year that simultaneously also happens to be one of the cutest and most deadly too. Having now completed the game – there are some things I need to talk about.
So Cult of the Lamb is effectively a combo of two genres: action roguelike and colony management. You complete dungeon runs to earn materials and followers to then power your colony and other ventures. The dungeon runs themselves are not that long – usually around 5-10 minutes – but they’re fun for what they are. The combat is simple, yet fast and effective, the enemy designs are varied and offer up plenty of different attack patterns to keep things interesting, the boss fights are plentiful and also fun, and the movement is both responsive and intuitive.
There are only two attack types – your melee and your special weapon – but with the amount of options there are for each, it hardly feels lacking. I would go from my weak, but rapid dagger attacks with my tentacle rift ranged attack to a life-stealing, yet slow hammer with a freezing AOE special weapon. The runs are short enough that you quickly get to experiment with these combos and it’s a lot of fun figuring out what works best.
That said, the dungeons themselves I did find to be lacking. They may look great and have all the varied enemies and such, but the actual rooms and overall layout are the most basic thing ever. You get just a handful of different room types and each dungeon is small enough that it becomes easy to predict what the general layout will be. Unfortunately, after an hour or two, you’ve seen all that the dungeons will have to offer for the rest of the game.
That said, that is only half of the game. And in fact, I imagine many people are under the impression that the roguelike stuff takes priority over the colony management stuff, but it’s actually the reverse – I spent more time building my base and managing my followers than exploring dungeons.
You’ll complete a dungeon run, come back, and then have to go through a checklist of different things: feed the villagers, collect devotion, give a sermon, perform rituals, clean up after your followers, harvest crops, collect materials gathered by your followers, etc. This process takes easily double or triple the time of a dungeon run and I won’t lie, it can be tedious.
In fact, my biggest complaint about the game would be the lack of quality of life features to lessen this busy work. Small stuff like having to hold A in front of the shrine to collect devotion instead of just picking it all up at once, not being able to see at a glance which job tasks members are assigned to, and – my least favorite task of the bunch – having to bless followers individually to raise their loyalty and have to go through that same animation twenty something times every single in-game day. Yes, you do get upgrades later on to lessen this tedium, but not for every area and those that you do it’s often late into the game when the experience is nearly already over.
It’s not like the base building element is bad either – in fact I enjoyed unlocking the different buildings, experimenting with what they do, and decorating my cult – but the upkeep can really drag down that experience and I hope that future patches can add some quality of life features to clean it up a bit.
Outside of the base building though, there is a world map to explore with some side content to complete and this stuff is fun as well. There’s a whole dice mini-game, a fishing element, and several different side quests to complete. Granted, most of these side quests are simple fetch quests, but a lot of them require very specific and rare items, so it’s not like some tacked-on thing.
And yeah, technically there is a story here too, but it’s the most basic thing and really only there to tie together the game world and the different boss fights – definitely not something with a lot of lore to uncover.
For those wondering about length, it took me just over eight hours to clear the game while doing a bit of the side stuff on top of that. After beating the game you can simply keep playing the same save if you want to further complete all the side stuff and maybe unlock all of the extra decorations and such, but beyond that, there isn’t much else to work towards. I already had all the weapon upgrades, all the rituals unlocked, and all of the buildings that I wanted to use.
The experience has a rather linear structure to it and the roguelike stuff is not varied enough to warrant too much replay value. It’s still very fun as a one and done kind of experience, but I felt this was still worth noting for those expecting high replay values here.
Aesthetically, the game looks and sounds great. The stylistic and “cutesy” art makes for a cool dynamic with the game’s darker and more mature themes, but in a way that doesn’t come off as forced or there simply for shock value. The designs and animations genuinely look good and the studio did a great job with all the minor touches across the board. Also shoutout to the expert use of lighting, it really sells some of the dungeon’s looks.
I didn’t find the music to be as good as the graphics, but it’s also not bad – just not something I would listen to outside of the game.
Then there’s the performance. As a whole, Cult of the Lamb runs well, but not completely without issue. For example, while I had no problem running the game at 4k 144fps at max settings on my RTX 3080 Ti, there were numerous occasions where I ran into bugs that forced game restarts. Whether that be my lamb dude running off through walls and getting stuck when entering the temple or getting the dreaded infinite loading screen when exiting an area, it became a bit annoying. Once or twice? Sure, not terrible. But once it starts pushing five, six times, then there’s definitely something wrong here.
Otherwise, the PC performance is fine. No fps drops or stuttering, plenty of graphical options to change if you need to further optimize the experience, and the default controls are fine on both controller and keyboard and mouse. Both formats feel good to play and the latter is fully rebindable too.
I also tested the game on my Steam Deck – at the time of writing it still is not verified. Performance is a bit iffy on there. In dungeons and in most areas, it hovers around 60 fps when playing on medium settings at the Steam Deck’s native resolution. When in my cult though, it frequently dropped to 30 and struggled with all the stuff going on on-screen. A trade-off for sure, but I can’t say I ever saw it drop below 30.
Cult of the Lamb combines two genres to great effect, with fast and fun roguelike gameplay and plenty of colony sim mechanics to play around with. That said, each does have its fair share of problems, especially when taken independently of the dynamic they form. The roguelike stuff isn’t varied enough and the colony sim is gravely lacking in quality of life features, for example. Still a fun experience overall, but once that could be improved.
Quote: Cult of the Lamb combines two genres to great effect, with fun roguelike gameplay and plenty of colony sim mechanics to play around with too. That said, each does have its fair share of problems.
Cult of the Lamb retails for $25 USD on Steam, but you can get an official Steam key for 10% off using code RITUALS through my Gamesplanet partner link. It is also available through GOG and on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.