We’ve previously described Cult of the Lamb as a cross between The Binding of Isaac and Animal Crossing. And, now we’ve been absorbed in its delightful and macabre world for some time, we stand by it.
Combining roguelike hack-and-slash combat with town building, Cult of the Lamb takes elements from several genres to make something that feels completely fresh. Hours whizz by as you jump between tending to your cult and heading into battle – not to mention the various other activities there are for you to engage in along the way. There’s so much going on here that it’s impossible to pigeonhole into one category – but that’s just one reason why Cult of the Lamb is so good.
You need to take down several demons in battle, all while taking care of a flock of followers. There’s plenty to keep you busy just in the town building part of Cult of the Lamb, with resources to farm, followers to feed, sermons and rituals to hold, and more. You’ll want to keep your followers happy, and that means ensuring they’re fed, that they have somewhere comfortable to sleep, and their surroundings are kept clean and tidy. That means clearing away sick and poo – something you’ll not find yourself doing in the likes of Animal Crossing.
Animal Crossing also doesn’t see you burying your anthropomorphic friends when they die, but Cult of the Lamb doesn’t shy away from the more grizzly parts of people management. Try as you might to look after them well, old age comes for all, and before long even your favourite followers will see themselves being buried in the ground. Or, er, used for meat. Yes, it gets dark. But this is a game about raising a satanic cult. Did you really expect anything less?
As you play, you’ll gather various resources – such as wood, stone and money – that can be used to build a variety of buildings and functions for your followers. From a church where sermons and rituals can be held to a farm where you can grow crops, your camp will constantly grow. Each time your followers generate enough faith, you can unlock a new building, and it won’t be long until your dark little community is self-sufficient and thriving.
For the most part you’re free to approach Cult of the Lamb however you want. Spend time in your cult’s hideout as often as you like, or continually head out to fight. It’s up to you. You’ll want to balance the two out to get the most out of the game, though, and so slaying enemies is an important part of the game. Like a roguelike, each time you enter a dungeon, its layout will be slightly different. You’ll be given a random weapon before you start, and as you make your way through you’ll amass Tarot cards, giving you various perks that last for the length of your run. Die, and it’s back to your camp with you – although you’ll keep most of the resources that you’ve collected along the way.
How does Cult of the Lamb play on Steam Deck?
Despite not being verified as Steam Deck Compatible (at least, not yet), Cult of the Lamb plays beautifully on Steam Deck. We’ve had an error screen display shortly after launching, but once the game loads, it’s consistently played flawlessly. We’ve found this to be the ideal game to play on Steam Deck, too: easy to pick up and dive into for a short amount of time, and it’s never a problem to pick back up where you left off from. Framerates have been solid, and its dark cartoonish art style really shines on the Deck’s screen.
Combat is simple, but fulfilling. Simply hit the attack button to swing at your foes, and a special move – a ‘curse’ – can be used sparingly. You’ll need to make use of a dodge manoeuvre to avoid taking damage, and only by using all three will you master Cult of the Lamb‘s dungeons. There are some other tricks you can employ to help you out, too. A follower can be turned into a demon to accompany you in battle, for example, or you can unlock a new outfit that gives you a random perk.
In a dungeon you’ll make your way through a series of rooms, some filled with enemies and others with Tarot cards, or new weapons, for you to collect. Every time you clear a room you’ll be rewarded with a chest of treasure – typically coins, or some type of material which you can use to build something new back at your cult’s camp. Not every encounter will be combative, either. You’ll sometimes be given challenges, or simply find an outpost with lots of useful resources.
At the end of each dungeon, you’ll face off against a boss. Here, you’ll have to utilise your abilities and watch the boss’ attack patterns in order to come out victorious. Going in all-guns-blazing rarely works here; instead, you’ll need to be measured and bide your time, attacking only when the opportunity presents.
That’s not all there is to Cult of the Lamb, either. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock a variety of areas available to fast-travel to from your cult hideout. Heading to the Lonely Shack, for example, will allow you to play a game of Knucklebones, an addictive two-player dice game. Elsewhere, there’s Pilgrim’s Passage, where you’ll find a fishing spot, and Spore Grotto, where you can buy new Tarot cards and engage in some mushroom-themed quests.
Cute but morbid, Cult of the Lamb quickly won us over with its varied gameplay and, many hours later, still has its hooks in us. It’s not very often that a game has you sacrificing new friends to a demon, but then Cult of the Lamb isn’t like anything else we’ve ever played. Its town building gameplay works seamlessly alongside its roguelite combat, both keeping you absorbed in their own ways. This is innovative indie gaming at its finest, and we can’t get enough.