Preview Cult of the Lamb: the Devolver game ready to dethrone The Binding of Isaac?
After a demo that made us want to, it is with pleasure that we relaunched Cult of the Lamb to discover more through a real preview. And that’s doubly good since we had a number of points to clarify. So, redundant or exciting? How is the next Devolver shaping up?
- The perfect mix between Don’t Starve and The Binding of Isaac
- Cute, gory and disturbing
- Mini-games, branches… From surprises to surprises
The version of Cult of the Lamb that we had access to on PC allowed us to go even further than during the demo. For nearly two hours, we were able to explore the entirety of the Dark Woods (one of the five dungeon worlds), discover additional locations and improve our base. Note that all upgrades were locked at a certain tier.
The perfect mix between Don’t Starve and The Binding of Isaac
It all starts with a failed sacrifice. The sacrifice is you, a frail, helpless young lamb. But a superior force decided otherwise. Extricating you from certain death, He Who Waits entrusts you with a mission in exchange: to set up a cult in his name to compete (or rather crush) with the one who wanted you dead. Thus become yours the roles of guru and crusader. The gameplay of Cult of the Lamb is indeed hybrid. We have on one side all the dungeon-crawler/roguelite aspect and on the other side the life simulation/cult. It is particularly on this last part that we wanted to have more details and we were served.
This whole part turns out to be surprisingly rich as we progress. Your goal is indeed to grow your cult and this requires a large number of followers. These serve both as labor and financial support and their religious fervor will allow you to unlock various improvements for your base and your future battles. Regularly you will welcome new followers and the challenge is to keep them with you. To do this, you must watch over their health, their cravings, their hunger, their faith and the cleanliness of your base. On the program, we therefore find craft, construction and interaction.
As a worship leader, you will also be able to carry out a certain number of actions within your chapel, in order to increase the involvement of your faithful while reaping benefits along the way. Reciting sermons and setting up strategic doctrines to change the way your base works will be part of your daily life. You can even sacrifice some followers for the good of the cause and they will walk down the aisle with a smile. You quickly get caught up in the guru’s game, especially since everything is skilfully made and rich as it should be.
On the other hand, from what we have seen, keeping a prosperous atmosphere within your cult is not really difficult. Recovering faith is quite easy even when you are in the red. We still met some recalcitrant faithful who wanted to mount a real mutiny, but unless you completely ignore your base, it is impossible for it to affect all your followers, at least for the moment. We can imagine that the more faithful there are, the more difficult it becomes to extinguish the rebellions, but that we could not see with our own eyes.
Despite this relative lack of difficulty, the results are more than positive. If we had any doubts about how the simulation/management part would be included in the game, this preview greatly reassured us. The latter revolves around combat. What you do in the dungeons (death, resource…) will have an impact on your base and vice versa. It is therefore better to pace these parts by alternating each time the phases of combat and management. A cycle that could be repetitive in the long run, but which has not been during our more than two hours of play.
Now that we’ve covered these mechanics, let’s talk about combat. Unexpectedly, these phases seem a little behind in comparison. In addition to the sometimes messy side, some boss fights offer repetitive and not really exciting patterns. Nevertheless, the game sensations are really very good and the advantages/weapons dispatched throughout the dungeons are quite varied. Cult of the Lamb therefore has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to combat, even if at this level it is still far from giants of the genre such as The Binding of Isaac.
What about the difficulty?
Note that you can change the difficulty of the title at any time during your game. This will make enemies tougher and you’ll find fewer small hearts to heal you along the way. Well-bodied roguelite enthusiasts will no doubt appreciate the arduous Very Hard mode, although it’s important to note that you’ll only lose 50% of your resources.
Cute, gory and disturbing
If we tend to compare Cult of the Lamb to Edmund McMillen’s game because of its roguelite aspect, the atmosphere of the software plays a big part in it. Massive Monster’s game has this little disturbing side that clearly recalls the very strange atmosphere of The Binding of Isaac. Nevertheless, here again, the two titles do not play completely in the same court, especially on the side of the artistic direction.
Cult of the Lamb is visually very successful. By mixing a colorful and cute aspect with another much darker and disturbing one, the developers of Massive Monster have found a winning recipe. The game is beautiful and fun to get lost in. The graphic surprises are also there, especially on certain bosses which are particularly successful. Add to that a well thought out soundtrack (albeit a bit repetitive) and you have a little gem.
Plus, the title shows some well-thought-out sarcasm. Between the absurd and the satire, the latter may not please everyone but has enough to bring many smiles. Some situations are comical to say the least and we also feel a criticism of corruption and despotism. Everything is smoothly conducted and gives Cult of the Lamb an original touch that is really fun to discover.
Mini-games, branches… From surprises to surprises
It’s all in the title: Cult of the Lamb never ceases to amaze us. We who thought we only had the life simulation mechanics to really discover, it is clear that the title of Devolver has more than one card up its sleeve. It’s simple, until the end of our session, we were able to discover new management and roguelite mechanics (branching, wave of enemies, etc.), but also others that were even more surprising.
Cult of the Lamb will take you to different locations to expand the aura of your cult. These will allow you to carry out some small quests, to obtain even more rewards and even to play mini-games. Sometimes very well thought out, other times much less, they are still a good way to diversify the experience a bit. and not sink into a dull routine. The gaming experience is thus much richer than it seems in Cult of the Lamb.
It was a real pleasure to discover in more depth the next title published by Devolver. And it’s definitely not for nothing that the publisher puts this game so much forward. An atmosphere as cute as it is disturbing, a complete and well thought out hybrid gameplay… Cult of the Lamb should provide us with a welcome breath of fresh air next August. The whole challenge of Massive Monster now consists in not falling into too much repetitiveness. But if the title continues to surprise us like this, that shouldn’t be a problem. Whatever happens, we can’t wait to get back into it.