Cult of the Lamb review: Midsommar meets Animal Crossing

Cult of the lamb pc review sacrifice

Worship of the Lamb

MSRP $24.99

“Cult of the Lamb excels as a darkly comedic management game, though its roguelite component commits some cardinal sins.”

Advantages

  • Excellent campsite management

  • Complex and interconnected systems

  • Clever use of cult tropes

  • Flexible difficulty

The inconvenients

  • Weak roguelite action

  • Difficult-to-evaluate hitboxes

  • Satire at the surface level

For a good part of my Worship of the Lamb playthrough, I was a perfect leader. My flock of woodland cultists lived in harmony, happily displaying their devotion to a monstrous god. Then came the shortage of wood. Within days, dissent began to stir in my ranks as I was unable to fix broken beds. By the time I collected enough wood to solve the problem, I had to use it to build a prison instead. It turned out that the line between heaven and nightmare was very thin.

Worship of the Lamb explores this balance through a dark, comedic premise pulled straight from the golden age of Newgrounds society. It’s a hellishly addictive management game that revels in its religious farce like cultists prancing around a bonfire. But like my uneven stint as a leader, he struggles to fully pull off the complex act of gender juggling he sets out to perform.

A much better management sim than it is roguelite, Worship of the Lamb is at its best when it comes to a bizarro world version of Animal Crossing (with more satanic rituals). I just wished I could order my followers to do my dungeon crawling chores for me.

tending the herd

In Worship of the Lamb, players take control of an innocent lamb who gets tricked into leading a cult for a chained god. The woolly hero is tasked with building a functioning commune, converting other animals into followers, and slaying four rival gods who keep his master imprisoned. It’s a goofy premise that happens to be a perfect management sim setup loaded with interconnected economies and solid progression hooks.

As my followers generated devotion by praying at my camp’s central shrine, I could use this resource to unlock buildable structures with the wood and stone lying around. Within an hour I had rudimentary beds for my followers, farm plots to grow food, a kitchen, and a temple to preach. As an effective preacher, Worship of the Lamb always teaches something new, slowly making the daily routine busier without suddenly feeling overwhelming.

Animals live in a village together in cult of the lamb.

Every decision plays an important role in the camp. Installing an outhouse prevents followers from pooping in the grass, which can sow discontent among easily disgusted animals. Once in place, this waste can be collected in the bathroom and used to fertilize crops. These crops turn into ingredients that can be used to cook meals, keeping everyone fed and happy – unless you decide to cook a meal with these feces instead. This level of complexity cuts through every system, allowing you to create a functioning (or dysfunctional, if you like) society.

What is particularly impressive is that it is only one layer of management simulation. Along with those usual town-builder hooks, the game’s religious premise provides additional depth. You’re not just managing living conditions and hunger; you’re trying to maximize your herd’s devotion and harvest it as a resource. Give a sermon and you will get a currency that will allow you to buy permanent upgrades for the combat section of the game. Perform a ritual to bless the ocean and you can get bigger loot when you go fishing (at the Conversely, you can declare a fast, which will reduce the devotion of the commune but prevent them from getting hungry as it freezes their hunger meter) . Faith is as much of a resource as wood, which is perhaps the game’s most crunchy piece of religious satire.

Worship of the Lamb surprisingly holds its own with more “serious” games – heavy as Frostpunk.

My favorite element of the game’s vast web of systems comes in the form of Doctrines. After collecting three tablet fragments, players can implement a new law. This allows them to determine the type of cult they wish to lead, be it benevolent or fearful. In my worship, I decreed that my followers would be grass eaters, allowing them to eat grass-based meals without making them doubt their devotion. Later, I decreed that I could shake followers for a tithe at any time. Each Decree riffs on different cult tropes, tailoring them to hard-hitting (and darkly hilarious) gameplay decisions.

It’s not even the bottom of the barrel. I could go on about villager traits, quests, boon granting necklaces, and more. For something that looks like a cartoon gadget, Worship of the Lamb surprisingly stands foot to foot with more “seriousness” heavy games like frostpunk.

Roguelite-lite

If the management simulation is an angel on Worship of the Lamb‘s shoulder, his reddened element is his devil. There is an action element at the center of the game, where players go on an expedition to kill these four gods. Like other games in the genre, players fight through a set of procedurally assembled rooms to kill one boss at a time. But like gardening or stone mining, it’s more of a chore than anything else.

There aren’t many compelling skill checks in a run, even in boss fights.

When I say “roguelite”, the emphasis is on the light. Rather than doing a big run, players complete easy micro-expeditions that typically take five to 10 minutes. It’s great for people who find games like dead cells too imposing, but it limits the appeal of the genre. For example, much of the thrill of games like underworld comes from experimenting with builds on every run. Worship of the LambRaces are so short and devoid of meaningful upside that I never felt like I was building a powerful toolset. Tarot cards, the relic version of the game, tend to only grant lackluster boosts like adding half a heart of health or increasing attack strength by a hair.

Weapons are also missing. There are a few weapon types in the game pool and some classes to unlock (like vampiric weapons), but nothing really changes the way I approach a play. Each is a close range melee weapon that makes me hammer the X button to let out the same short combo. The only difference is weapon speed, with slower weapons simply feeling disadvantaged due to enemy attack speed.

A boss shoots fireballs in all directions in cult of the lamb.

There aren’t many compelling skill checks in a run, even in boss fights. Whether it’s a sub-boss or a biome’s big bad, combat is all about simple pattern recognition and bullet dodging. This makes the game much friendlier to people who hate banging their head against a wall, but it lacks a good balance to keep the races interesting. After dozens of races, I wish I could find a way to assign a follower to do the dirty work for me.

I wouldn’t describe any of this as bad; it’s perfectly hack-and-slash gameplay. It pales in comparison to the cult’s complex management, feeling like a tithe you have to pay to enjoy the game.

Personality cult

Worship of the LambThe most immediately notable feature of is its comic art style, which almost makes it look like an adult flash game. The colorful and cuddly visuals give the game its demented dark edge to the Happy tree friends. It’s an easy-to-love aesthetic, though I found the almost Paper Mario-like look made it difficult to gauge enemy hitboxes during battle.

I wish the experiment had more teeth as a satirical work.

The cute visuals create a fun dissonance when performing a blood sacrifice, but I wish the experience had more teeth as a piece of satire. Despite all the references to cult cliches, the game never has much to say about what it ridicules. He’s mostly played for easy sight gags, which is surprising considering he seems to have a real bone to pick with blind devotion. The central story heads to a pretty obvious conclusion right off the bat, one that nearly absolves players of any sins they’ve committed along the way.

There’s still that religious satire inherent in its resource management, but it almost feels more effective as a dark, comedic parody of Animal Crossing. Are the two games so different? Both have players creating a cozy village for adorable woodland creatures, decorating the town to increase happiness, and declaring ordinances. The only difference is the presence of God, who distorts the carefree paradise into a mid summer-typical situation.

Worship of the Lamb could have dug the sacrificial knife a little deeper, but he still gets enough of the jugular.

Our point of view

Worship of the Lamb excels in delivering a multi-layered management simulation that uses its cult premise much more than a twisted gimmick. It’s only let down by its mediocre roguelite gameplay, which seems to miss what makes the genre so appealing. Its satire could be more blunt, but it still takes enough sharp jabs at religious cults by turning devotion into a sustainable resource. The beads will be gripped.

Is there a better alternative?

If you want a genre roguelike that gives you more to do between runs, underworld is the gold standard. Moonlight also merges rouglite action and management quite well.

How long will it last?

It depends on the difficulty level you choose, but an average game took me about 12 hours.

Should I buy it?

Yes. Even if it doesn’t fit the roguelite genre, Worship of the Lamb is an addictive management game for heretics.

Worship of the Lamb was reviewed using a PC version running on Steam Deck.

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