Across the starting of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns within the U.S., Animal Crossing: New Horizons was launched. I used to be by no means one for life-sim video games, except for Harvest Moon: It’s A Great Life on GameCube once I was a child. I had extra endurance then, and a day slipping by didn’t really feel as horrible. However Animal Crossing got here at nearly the precise time: when all the times had been slipping by, and it didn’t matter. I acquired hooked. For some time, at the least. My private situation with entering into these video games is the ready round, the wandering, the calmness of all of it. I get antsy, I suppose. Now and again, I need just a little carnage. Which is why Cult of the Lamb hits so proper.
Story time. As I enter the sport’s second location, the world boss curses my followers with starvation to weaken my cult. I return to base after my expedition to seek out that not solely is my cult ravenous, their loyalty is decrease consequently. I rapidly enact a decree ordering the cult to quick for 3 days to offset their famine however, having not learn the wonderful print, this sends their loyalty by way of the ground. A dissenter emerges, preaching lies about me to the flock. I collect everybody within the church, marry the dissenter in ritual matrimony to spice up morale, then sacrifice him instantly after to offer it just a little additional bump. The Sheeple’s Temple lives one other day.
The primary crux of Cult of the Lamb is managing a flock of followers as a resurrected lamb serving an enchained and mysterious god. You’re tasked with constructing a cult within the god’s honor in change on your resurrection following an execution by the hands of the three different god’s followers. You’ll get hold of thralls whereas questing all over the world’s numerous areas, or by discovering them whereas spelunking by way of the forbidden domains of the opposite highly effective deities.
Not all who’re indoctrinated are finished so willingly, however no matter your strategies, they’re your topics to command. You’ll order these furry followers round your designated plot of land — a humble grove on which you’ll construct a commune. The standard survival tropes are all right here: preserve everybody fed, construct shelter, collect assets. However the religion of your followers should even be managed, both by way of particular person blessings finished every day or a extra environment friendly sermon on the church.
There’s a good bit of automation in comparison with one thing like Stardew Valley relating to sustaining your base, as buildings that present seeds and water might be assigned to followers to make sure you don’t have to put a divine hoof on them your self. However you’ll begin out bearing many of the grunt work, since constructing a church is way extra of a precedence than an outhouse. In spite of everything, upgrades to your base can solely be unlocked by way of the prayers of your followers. It’s like doing a pure tradition run in Civilization, solely smaller.
Let’s speak tone. Cult of the Lamb does the “scary factor but it surely’s cute” aesthetic fairly effectively. I completely love the Paper Mario-inspired artwork course, the colour palette, and god, the music. The music is simply the perfect. However is it making an attempt to say something? I don’t actually suppose so. It definitely doesn’t have to, however I suppose I believed the sport would have some extra delicate flavors. I don’t essentially count on the humorous cartoon lamb recreation to discover the complicated nature of cults or the explanations severely disenfranchised folks be part of them, however to lean into the idea so arduous purely for aesthetics feels just a little trite.
Cult of the Lamb is simple on the eyes (and ears). The voice appearing is hilarious, delivered with such confidence that regardless of being sing-songy gibberish it lands each time. Likewise, sound results out and in of fight hit all the precise notes, and I used to be enamored with the otherworldly shriek when casting one of many recreation’s many spells.
Fight is straightforward however powerful. The largest impediment is visible litter, whether or not it’s grass, effigies, or different enemies. It may be arduous to see the place foes are and once they’re about to strike, however this feels by-design (environmental litter might be destroyed with the swing of your weapon). Whereas the controls are snappy and passable, fight wasn’t a spotlight for me. That mentioned, selecting your path by way of enemy domains to collect your most wanted assets makes it greater than well worth the expedition.
As soon as an space’s large dangerous is defeated, it will increase in issue. Defeating an space’s Bishop will even unlock the power to go on longer explorations for larger rewards. It’s a intelligent method to get much more juice for the squeeze from every zone and meant I had extra incentive to revisit every one.
Returning to base means placing your gathered assets to good use. There are dozens upon dozens of buildings, decorations, and utilities to be crafted. It’s not fairly sufficient to offer Animal Crossing a run for its cash, but it surely’s fairly darn shut. Followers might be assigned to totally different stations, like farms and lumber mills, to generate assets and allow you to deal with the motion. It’s a easy system, but it surely’s important to be sure to aren’t missing any critical facilities otherwise you’re going to be neck-deep in corpses.
Essentially the most macabre and satisfying advantage of your arduous work comes within the type of the beforehand talked about ritual sacrifice.
Followers might be leveled up over time, be it by way of quests or items, and this will increase the ability they grant when sacrificed. Just like the fattening of a pig earlier than slaughter, you’ll kowtow to and satiate the wants of every of your lovely lambs earlier than they’re brutally crushed to loss of life by eldritch tentacles and yanked into the abyss under. However hey, it’s alright — you unlocked a cool new sword.
Cult of the Lamb is a genre-mixer finished proper. It takes some actually satisfying elements of an motion roguelite and an informal survival base-builder and blends them collectively fairly successfully. You aren’t shoe-horned into taking part in it any form of approach, both. I really feel like you would simply as simply do about half the dungeon delves that I did and are available out simply wonderful with all of the instruments given to generate assets again at dwelling. Whereas I do want there was just a little extra meat to the subtext, this can be a groovy little survival cult builder.
This overview is predicated on the PC model of the sport. A code was supplied for overview by Devolver Digital.