Cult of the lamb is a very strange game with a somewhat twisted sense of humor and a very distinctive art style. Elements of games like Hades or Dead Cells with roguelike dungeon runs added to a settlement builder where you manage resources and cultists akin to something like Stardew or Oxygen Not Included with this very distinct paper cut out in 3d graphics like Don't Starve with cute music and sprites and this very dark sense of humor.
You play as the titular Lamb sacrificed by cultists to prevent a prophesy you rise again empowered by the red crown tasked to build a cult to repay your debt to the one who waits the god like being who revived you.
Gameplay involves a few things crusading where you fight through randomly generated dungeons gathering resources and fighting first the minions of the cult and then the bishops. You begin each run with random weapons and curses (which are magic spells) and as you progress you gather new weapons and random modifier cards that enhance your powers or add more hearts or some such. As you play you unlock more weapons powers and cards that you can then use on further runs.
You also gather resources seeds for various plants blueprints for buildings and also converts to your cult.
This feeds into the second aspect of the game is the settlement and cultist part of the game. You have a small area of land to start where your cult is established. Your converted cultists live in this area and it's up to you to keep them happy. Each cultist has a random appearance and set of traits which either boost aspects like getting more faith under certain conditions or are more negative like they take more to upgrade or they produce less belief. You need to manage your cultists health by making sure the area is kept clean and also making sure they have places to rest and if they fall ill somewhere to recover. You also need to make sure they are fed by cooking various meals from resources you harvest or grow in your settlement. The third aspect is you have to maintain their faith by doing sermons or rituals or providing blessings or gifts. Your cultist can then be assigned various task initially just gathering wood or stone or they can be made to worship at the cult shrine which produces devotion that you use to upgrade your settlement and unlock various new buildings which allow more options like a farm where cultist can water and tend to crops or a mine to get stone and so on.
Cultist wander about and level up as their faith is rewarded and produce more devotion get better at their tasks. They also sometimes offer quests for you to do to gain resources or devotion.
As you gather more devotion you can then construct more buildings or upgrade various parts of your cult for more and different options on other aspects of the cult or to influence the roguelike parts of the game. You also unlock other areas you can go to that offer other minigames and different resources like the fishing area which allows you to catch fish to use in cooking as well as other treasure from the sea.
Each element feeds into the other so the Settlement stuff boosts the weapons and skills you can get access to in the dungeon part and the dungeon part can provide resources and new cultists to improve you settlement its an interesting balance between the two elements that works well. You can start in the settlement make some food do some tidy up give a quick sermon and set up some new buildings then knowing what you need resource wise either do a dungeon run or go somewhere you've unlocked in the world maybe try and pick up some more cultists or unlock some new building or power.
The dungeon combat is fun and well paced and feels satisfying a nice variety of different feeling weapons elemental effects and spells and the general combat is quick and responsive. There's a lot of dodge rolling and diving in for an attack or quickly using a spell which while casting slows time a little. Enemy sprites seem to telegraph attacks well either with a flashing white or a indicated attack point or just recognizable patterns. Bosses are nice big events with reasonable difficulty so far. It feels like a challenge but not an insurmountable one. The random element of the weapons and spells you get and the random cards makes for a nice change in gameplay each run.
The art style is great the cute animal cultists the lamb itself all very smiley fun but with a twisted edge to it. The darkness and eldritch horrors the dark humor in the animation and dialogue it has some really nice particle effects and the music is pretty good.
It manages to combine a lot of different stuff into a nicely cohesive gameplay and works well as a pick up play a few runs and then put down sort of roguelike game. It runs pretty well on the steamdeck too although it took a little getting used to there is maybe a little too much going on for the smaller screen at first.
If you like either roguelikes or settlement builders give this one a go. It's on Steam and consoles there is a switch version which work well.
I really like Rogue-Likes/lites, so had this on my radar...but I think it misses out on one of the key parts of Rogue-Like...time-to-play. It's just too damn long, and there is a lot of time-wasting elements (the resource gathering, chopping trees etc etc). You spend too long in camp, and not enough time in the core gameplay loop....and it's that gameplay loop, combined with a sometimes cruel RNG that is the appeal of rogue-likes.
So one of the key elements of Rogue-Likes is that you should die...normally pretty regularly...or you should complete the game. Mr personal opinion is that the game-play cycle "sweet spot" is about half an hour (plus/minus 15 minutes). Great example of this are;
A rogue-like that missed the mark was Roguebook. In theory this should have been great...they had Richard Garfield in to design the game, and some of the concepts were superb (most rogue/card battlers involve slimming down your deck...Roguebook actively encouraged large decks, and building crazy combos)...however a run through took about an hour and a half. This was partly as it ran like a complete dog and crashed, but it was party as the game-play was too slow, with too much filler in between the actual game.
Cutlet-of-the-Lamb looks like a slightly less good Hades combat-wise, with some make-work on top. the problem there is that Hades was stunning...both graphically, aurally and gameplay wise (I speak as someone who got to the true ending, and I'm not normally much of a completionist).
yeah this isn't a pure roguelike so if you don't enjoy the other elements then the roguelike bits are weaker than you see in hades or dead cells or others.
The loop is somewhat different oscillating between the modes and side activities and it's definitely an element of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts as each of its modes is not as fully featured as you would find in a game dedicated to that. It also allows you to build up around the busy work making all the cultist do it and adding more structures that eliminate or automate aspects of it. Resources also tend to build up fast it's not a game that doles stuff out in a trickle you move along quickly. Some of these games you're always on the edge of failure having to scrimp for every scrap or resource but this isn't like that the only times I didn't have enough stuff for something was when I needed to refine better versions and then it was just a case of queuing it up for a cultist to make and after another dungeon run it was ready.
You can also do things to remove some of the management requirements as you unlock rituals you can do things like cancel out some of the elements like brainwashing all your cultists so they don't lose faith for several days. To get that you need to do a mission collecting stuff in dungeons then grow a bunch of mushrooms so it's often these loops of activity in the one area feeding in to another that then effect one of the other elements of the game.
It's also definitely a game more designed to be played and finished and not played over and over. The build variety and options are not deep enough for that. It's a conscious choice by the designers that allows them to harmonize its two otherwise disparate halves making them each just deep enough to be fun but complementary rather than one overpowering the other. It's a delicate balance that I think they pulled off well.
It's a game where you bounce between the modes and are always off doing something different but aren't really forced to do anything specific. You can do a quick run through one of the dungeons pick up some gold and resources maybe a new villager then back to camp add some new buildings do a spot of fishing. Sacrifice one of the villages who doesn't believe to the dark gods for power then resurrect them make them eat a bowl of poop and then turn them into a demon that gives you a combat boost give a quick sermon to top up the faith unlock a new upgrade to the crown then off on another quick dungeon run.
If you were looking for a game to just do dungeon runs over and over it's not really the game for you. It's strength is in the way it's different elements work together. Hades is a better roguelike, stardew or rimworld or prison architect is a better settlement sim, no oxygen included is a better colony manager.
Cult of the Lamb has elements of all of these simpler versions but well featured enough to be fun and then it weaves them together well it makes it somewhat it's own thing as a result. It could easily have gone very wrong trying to marry these things into one game and it's a testament to the developers skill they managed to pull it off but it does mean if your not partial to one of it's elements the other part are less likely to grip you.
It's more fluffy and easier kind of a like a metal version of Animal crossing where there is actually something to do and you can sacrifice the annoying villagers to the dark gods and go off on a combat rampage.
So in conclusion play hades ... 😂😜