Posted: August 15
+ Responsive roguelite adventure game, with base building that is interesting (despite having some flaws). Your character’s ability to dodge cancel is a godsend, and every swing of your sword or shot of a curse feels weighty.
+ One of the most well crafted and executed visual styles in an indie game I’ve played to date. The game weaves a mix of cartoonish cutesy and eldritch horror in everything – the scenary, characters, and monsters especially. You can’t help but smile at everyone’s expressive reactions, or the cute way they ‘talk’. Also, Cult of the Lamb’s Interface design, and overall design style, is sharp and responsive as well, with no fat whatsoever.
+ Some pretty solid writing and world building, between the five brothers and the gods they have become. Crows will convey some deeper details if you’re curious for them, and creatures of all walks of life and sizes will talk about your journey.
+ Solid music that leaves an impression and changes depending on the stage. I loved the base theme, in particular, which had a nice carefree vibe that paired well with the vibe of cutesy animals working hard or doing horrible things.
+ Customization and base building are HUGE focuses that are very fun to involve yourself in. Your cult’s name, your follower’s names and forms, the way they interact with each other – you have a great degree of control over these things, and it can be fun to mess with this for quite awhile.
+ There are multiple difficulty options to choose from, making the game very accessible. On normal, I clocked a solid playtime of around 22 hours. I could easily see most people hitting a playtime of 16-20, with more or less depending on your preference on the game.
– Core Flaws: The game is the definition of “so close”. So many of its systems (weapons, curses, cloaks, abilities, cultist perks, base building, rerun mechanics, Tarot cards) are wonderful takes on the roguelite genre that, unfortunately, are only scratching the surface of their true potential. For example, the game is plagued by the “the right choice” problem, whether its combat (where the gold cloak is objectively the best choice when compared with useless alternatives) or upgrades (Ritual of Resurrection vs Funeral, one of many bad choices). Another example is that often many of the rewards feel pointless or lackluster, including many of the Tarot cards (poison immunity when poison is so infrequent, heart upgrades that feel meaningless, etc). ANOTHER example is that base building has weird uneven terrain, or that you cannot extend your flooring to the edges of the map. And finally, perhaps the worst example — rerunning levels is limited to only 3 runs, and has no real point of replaying them because inevitably your runs will largely look the same. You’ll start to see more cracks in the game the more you play, until, inevitably, you will think “Ah, that sucks that it isn’t deeper. It’d be cool if…” and get lost in thoughts about ideas. It is a crying shame how much of this game could be so much better.
– Followers: I love this system, but man, they got to be incredibly annoying to manage, and it really sucked that the design philosophy around them was encouraging the player to see them as disposable. Getting attached to a follower is expensive and outright impossible, whether it’s because of old age, being betrayed, or needing to use them as a resource of some kind, particularly if you want to get 100% of all follower unlocks.
– Annoying enemy design: Often the only thing that ever hurt me was the smaller enemies that are unpredictable, usually because the dense foliage hid them from my sight. The first stage is still my least favorite to play because the archers and bats can very easily hit you without you even noticing.
– A bit buggy: The game is plagued with small, but annoying bugs. Some people apparently get softlocked on tiers of upgrading, or stuck in a room. There is a particularly annoying bug where the game resets your flooring to the first state you ever put down.
– Misc: Snail Form is too hard to obtain, and is the only unlock I have left to find. I’ve run so many full runs and haven’t gotten a single snail drop. I’d recommend allowing the fish merchant to sell the object, or alternatively, making them a guaranteed spawn in a certain room.
Cult of the Lamb’s visual style is flawless. The gameplay is very fun, and the writing is well crafted and enjoyable. It is a good time well worth every cent I paid for, with a solid ending that tied everything together nicely. If you’re looking for a cute, endearing game that will make you laugh and challenge you, please, buy this game!
That all being said:
Cult of the Lamb it is not a flawless experience. It falls short of becoming the absolute best version of itself. It can learn so much from games in its genre – Enter the Gungeon’s diverse selection of upgrades and weapons, Binding of Isaac’s meaningful unlocks and gameplay modes, etc.
Not every game has to be this way, of course. Cult of the Lamb could exist as it is now and it would still be, at least, a great time. But it’s capable of so much more, and I genuinely hope this company commits to nurturing it. I could easily see 20 hours becoming 200+ with the right work being done on it.