An excellent dungeon crawling town builder with distinctive Massive Monster flair which will convert you to the cause very very quickly
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My cult had this really cute bunny follower called Thena, who was one of my most devout followers, covered in cool tats with years of dedication.
Time caught up with Thena though, who eventually shuffled off this mortal coil.
It was all good though, I unlocked the doctrine that let me bring followers back from the dead, so I resurrected Thena back for three full lifetimes, no rest for the wicked.
Hell at one point I had enough of the resources needed to do a couple of rituals at once, so old Thena got sacrificed and then revived, young and spritely and my cult LOVED me for it.
That's the CULT OF THE LAMB experience in a nutshell.
Each of the systems in this surprisingly packed sandbox game from Massive Monster (THE ADVENTURE PALS, NEVER GIVE UP) build up slowly, steadily and in no time you'll be racing off to catch some fish, cooking up a hearty meal, cleaning out the latrines, tending to your farms all before church.
What is most surprising is how well meshed all these systems are, I never felt while playing that either of the two main components, random dungeon crawling "crusades" and the town simulator base building, ever took over, they kept alternating perfectly.
The setup is a simple revenge plot, you'll need to take down the priests who put you, a cute little lamby, to death by building the power behind the crown through your cult of followers.
Building out the promised land
When you start out you'll have just a very meager following, but if you're good to your cult they'll be good to you and quickly your parishioners will grow.
You'll need to manage food and building resources, to keep expanding your base with more buildings, which then allows you to keep collecting more resources to keep expanding your base with buildings.
You can see where this goes.
Initially a lot of this will be manual, you'll need to chop down the first trees, smash up the first rocks but your followers will be plentiful enough in no time to automate much of this process, and they are pretty smart and low maintenance really.
Aside from making sure they are fed and healthy, they'll keep gathering for you as you're off slaying your way through the major themed dungeons.
They'll build faith, an upgrade resource, when they aren't harvesting materials which will open up new buildings and decorations for the base in a staged tech tree, with plenty of great options to choose from.
Maybe you want to concentrate on building farms to easily keep your followers fed and happy, maybe you'd prefer to send your followers out on missions to collect more friends or resources, or maybe you'll just convert those happy little critters into demons to help your dungeon runs.
Hell yeah heretics
The story is progressed through crusades, which are the randomised dungeons with a roguelite design, emphasis on the lite
On the standard difficulties moving your way through rooms is relatively straightforward, players of games like HADES or BINDING OF ISSAC will have a pretty easy time here, with just an attack, a dodge and spell to content with.
You'll be randomly collecting weapons as you start each run, and I found that your chances of completing a full run depended pretty heavily on what you were dealt in that first room.
Strong slow axes, or fast stabby daggers can be upgraded in the base mode, but it'll take a little while before you can start seeing the higher level weapons.
A mechanic that may be familiar is a the tarot card system, which offers a basic boon improving weapon speed or damage, giving you a chance to gain a heart while felling enemies and many more.
If you had to pick up a slow axe early on you might just be able to find some speed boosting tarot cards which can shift the odds in your favour.
You'll need to prioritse your run, choosing whether or not to collect resources or pick up a new follower (and perhaps a new form, what the game calls the different animal looks for your cult members) before facing down a mini boss.
There are four mini bosses per world, and you get to keep them once defeated they'll be turned to your cause where they'll help build the faith, and then it's onto the big boss of the world which then unlocks the next area, but not before you've ripped out their heart for a major upgrade.
Choose your own adventure
There are a lot of different choices you can make to shape the cult the way you want it to be, setting doctrines which are a bit like the commandments for your cultists.
Feel like sending some of your followers to the tentacled depths? Well make it part of the doctrine that we're cool with sacrifices and you would take the big hit to your loyalty.
The doctrines unlocked given you different rituals to enact, which change the way each game will play out.
You can choose to make grass a stable foodstuff for your flock to incur no penality if you feed them one of the most plentiful resources around, or unlock a marriage so you can smooch a follower at any time.
A doctrine lets you ascend a follower, sacrifice them or Darth Vader choke them, three different ways to kill your cult members.
It can be useful if you've got a dissenter who is spreading discord, pick up the doctrine where your cult loves sacrifices, and send that naysayer to the tentacular beyond.
It's pretty grim when you think about it, the game is a critical look at how power is wielded through "belief" but you can make choices you want if your cult is one of love and harmony.
A word from the good book
You'll be quickly crafting your own stories as you play, CULT OF THE LAMB is an excellent single-player sandbox with plenty of replayability and core gameplay that doesn't get boring at all.
The excellent soundtrack and sound design by Melbourne based musician River Boy deserves it's own livestreamed 24 hour "low fi tracks to indoctrinate followers to" playlist, it's so great.
There is plenty here for players who love a fun casual roguelite, or decorating the most beautiful town, and if you only like one of those things normally this game might be the gateway to a whole new genre of games.
A copy of CULT OF THE LAMB was provided to SIFTER for the purpose of this review.