Published by quirky indie powerhouse Devolver Digital and developed by Adventure Pals studio Massive Monster, Cult of the Lamb looks to combine the community-building gameplay of Animal Crossing and dungeon-crawling action of The Legend Of Zelda with the dark, gruesome tone of games like The Binding Of Isaac. It was first announced last summer at Gamescom 2021, with a demo currently available on Steam and a full release planned for August 11.
Cult of the Lamb puts players in the role of the last sheep on Earth, who is set to be sacrificed to the ancient gods by sinister heretics. However, they are called forth by a demonic entity known as The One Who Waits, who revives the little lamb in exchange for gathering a cult of followers to carry out its will. Armed with the demonically-empowered Red Crown, this once-lost sheep sets out to enact revenge on their captors and build a dark cult devoted to freeing The One Who Waits from its eternal prison by defeating the four Bishops of the old order.
Cult of the Lamb features two types of gameplay: the dungeon-crawling sections that see the Lamb slice their way through the domains of the various Bishops and their minions, and the village-raising overworld where the Lamb’s Followers build their sanctuary. The first portion plays out like a classic Legend of Zelda title, in which the player journeys through a maze-like dungeon from a top-down perspective and battles their way towards the Bishop waiting at the end. Players attack enemies with melee strikes from a variety of weapons that the Lamb collects at the beginning of each attempt and dark magic that can be unleashed in several different forms. Each dungeon can be played through multiple times, with branching paths that ensure that no two runs are identical.
As the Lamb travels along each dungeon, they will unlock new Crown Abilities that can grant them access to stronger spells and weapons, as well as Tarot Cards that are drawn at random and give different temporary bonuses during each run. Spells use up a dark mana-like energy called Fervour, which can be replenished by killing enemies, and players will have to be mindful of their health as death means having to restart the dungeon over. Enemies glow when they are about to attack, giving the player the chance to roll out of the way and launch a counterattack. This makes battles a frenzied affair that can be easy to get lost in.
After roaming through the dungeons, the player will return to their Cult compound, where they have to build facilities for their army of Followers, grow and cook food like in Animal Crossing, harvest valuable building materials like stone and lumber, and ensure that their Followers remain happy, healthy, and loyal to their cause. The faith of the Followers is built up by performing sermons and rituals at a Temple and can be used to unlock various upgrades and new items to build. Followers can die if they are not properly cared for or grow too old, and if one gets unhappy they can spread dissent among the rest of the flock until they are re-educated or dealt with lethally.
Cult of the Lamb’s art style is colorful and simple, with 2D character models reminiscent of Paper Mario and a darkly humorous contrast between cute animals and demonic imagery. Likewise, the music shifts between the peaceful tracks that play when players are building their cult grounds and the foreboding music that comes on during dark rituals. Dialogue is text only, with a mumbling sound that represents characters speaking like in pre-BOTW Zelda games.
Cult of the Lamb’s gameplay mechanics are very simple on the surface, but the game provides a surprising amount of challenge in keeping a cult of followers happy while battling the forces of the Old Ones. The early gameplay footage shown so far contains a creepy charm in its adorable animal characters and grisly violence, and with a few more months of polish Cult of the Lamb could provide gamers with a delightful village-raising/dungeon-crawling hybrid that stars the world’s cutest cult.
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Cult of the Lamb releases on August 11, 2022 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. A digital Steam code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this preview.