So, as announced at the end of my last review, I couldn’t get into everything that bothered me with Cult of the Lamb. Arguably, I omitted parts because of spoilers or because I didn’t want to turn my review into a rant.
In the end, I did enjoy my stay in the game but sometimes, I was a bit conflicted about recommending it even though I really wanted to recommend it.
In this post, I’ll also draw some comparisons to other games. That’s not something I like to do in reviews but this isn’t a review, so…. yeah. Also, spoiler warning. Duh.
Anyway, this post is about just that: What’s wrong with Cult of the Lamb on a more technical level? I’ll break it up into different chapters; you can skip ahead if you want to!
- Base building
- Lack of Feedback
- Crusades/Runs + Accessibility
- Despite this… Why is it still fun?
So, this one is a bit situational.
Base-Building is kinda fun. You struggle initially with gold or wood or stone but eventually, you get that sorted out once you unlock specific buildings in the research tier.
But then you struggle with the hygiene levels, so you unlock the Janitor job… and then you build up farms because you’re in need of food and stuff.
And that’s where I got frustrated a lot of the time.
When you want to place things, you do so on a square grid but the grid itself is diagonal. The movement however isn’t diagonal, so it gets incredibly frustrating when you have to move down by one but it doesn’t move down.
Honestly, I’d love it if there was no grid at all. Placing 40+ farm tiles took me not only quite a long time but also was nerve-wracking and annoying.
And well,… games like Don’t Starve have done it in the past and did an amazing job at letting you place stuff wherever you want. I don’t get why the game needs a grid here when everything is sort of 2D and when nothing else in the game works like a grid.
As mentioned in my review, the management systems aren’t great either.
Traits don’t matter.
You indoctrinate followers that come with different traits. These traits affect how well they recover from illness and how they deal with the sacrifice of other followers. Some will get faith bonuses when their living quarters get improved… but there is nothing major in the game like in RimWorld where traits actually do matter.
In RimWorld, you have people that get a mood bonus when they’re awake at night. Others wake up early/require less speed.
In Grim Nights, traits are a lot simpler but still more impressive with certain villagers being better at different jobs.
The trait system in Cult of the Lamb just exists with no purpose at all. Heck, some doctrines completely overwrite people’s opposition towards sacrifices, for instance, making those “negative traits” completely irrelevant.
Overview Menus – or the lack thereof
Apart from the traits, though, I was bothered by the lack of overview menus.
If you’re wondering what Follower X is doing, you’ll need to look for them and then… you can’t see it anywhere really unless you read their mind which gives you some insights but not really all that much.
At one point, I noticed that when followers are done with chopping woods, they’ll do whatever else needs doing… When a follower is assigned to cleaning, they’ll stop doing that when there is no poop or vomit around but even once they have to clean again, they’ll still continue with what they’re currently doing.
Sometimes, followers will not do anything at all, idling and whatnot for whatever reason. I guess it adds a bit to the immersion that there are some lazy people in the cult but if they really revere me as a god, wouldn’t they listen to my orders?
I don’t want anything too complex like in Oxygen Not Included with skill trees and stuff… but I think that a simple overview of individual needs, jobs, and traits would be more than helpful, just like in Timberborn.
Lack of Feedback
This one is a bit odd. Sometimes, you don’t realise what is happening in your cult even though you’re the cult leader. It goes kind of in-hand with the management issues of the game but I noticed that this is a bit of its own issue, in my opinion.
When something major happened in your cult, you get a small pop-up at times during your runs but with the crusades being quite hectic and action-heavy, I found those pop-ups to not suffice to give me a good idea of what exactly happened or why so many people died or left.
Sometimes, a dissenter appeared. Sometimes, people suddenly got sick en masse. Who knows? The game doesn’t really tell you.
A simple pop-up upon your return or Ratau (one of the NPCs) telling you what you missed would easily fix this. If your cult is in danger of falling apart, Ratau could come around and tell you that you may wanna hurry back.
The game also doesn’t really tell you too well about what sort of resources you’ve collected. You can look it up in the inventory but I’d love it more if it was part of the UI or something you can get an overview on as well.
Generally, I’d love more communication (or “feedback”) in the game. You did this, so that happened. You made this choice, so you got punished via this thing.
Crusades/Runs + Accessibility
Small/short nitpick here but during your crusades the day/night cycle doesn’t actually end. Some tarot cards play into that by giving you more damage during specific times which is cool… but barely noticeable.
My issue with the time continuing, though, is that your cult could be on fire and you wouldn’t notice it because it keeps burning while you’re gone and everyone dies while you’re gone and you can’t solve those problems without returning home first.
You might have an amazing run and you wanna continue in endless mode with this one but your cult is literally on fire with people vomiting and pooping everything while the plague is happening.
It’s an in-built cockblock into the game that felt “interesting” at first as some sort of limiter but then I had a run with a powerful hammer, a lot of crit chance and extra damage as well as 2 times the attack speed, meaning I could beat bosses up in seconds – but I had to return home instead of continuing onwards for glory!
And this is sort of where accessibility comes in.
You can change your difficulty whenever you want to but I’d love it if you also had the option to pause time while you’re in the dungeon, so that you don’t get interrupted by a dying cult.
As mentioned in my review, weapons don’t feel balanced and tarot cards don’t really have synergies.
Tarot Cards make or break a run. A hammer that has high damage but 0.5 attack speed suddenly is super overpowered because you have 2x attack speed. If you don’t have that, your hammer is useless since most bosses will jump around or attack in the time a swing takes.
Similarly, claws only deal most of their damage on the last swing but you hardly will ever get the chance to do that since the combo is too long…
And daggers feel off because they knock back enemies a lot despite having no range. So, you swing them fast but the enemies don’t get hit because you’re knocking them away like crazy to the point where they can attack you but you can’t attack them.
I’d love to see a bit of a balancing patch that lets you stack tarot cards of the same type and that rebalances the weapons. Axes and swords feel great but sometimes, it’s hard to hit enemies with your axe.
Daggers are useless, claws are situational, and hammers are fun but also hardly usable, in my opinion.
Lastly, you can beat this game rather quickly and at a certain point, you don’t have anything to unlock anymore, so the devotion generation turns into gold generation. This, however, makes most of the purchases trivial and honestly, I couldn’t really find a use for my followers anymore.
I would love it if there was more to the game.
Devotion and Prayers made so much sense to me when I encountered it at first. It felt like an amazing feature that really breathes life into this cult management idea.
But once you unlock everything, you just kinda can’t do much anymore. I’d imagine that Cult of the Lamb is supposed to be just that:
A game that you play through once, and then you never touch it again… but it costs twenty bucks and it’s a roguelike… and replayability is kinda what roguelikes are known for.
Challenge Dungeons, Endless Mode with special nightmare/ascension levels… or even a way to utilize followers’ prayers beyond unlocking stuff would make the game a lot better, probably.
Heck, adding a Co-Op mode could be fun. Do it. I’m sure it’d be fun with visiting the dungeon together or checking out each other’s
Despite this… Why is it still fun?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think it’s mostly overhyped… but it still is fun when you first play it and then it slowly dies out until you beat it.
The best part about the game is probably the soundtrack. It’s fantastic. It’s even better considering that I loved Riverboy’s music previously and I still do listen to it sometimes… and it just is amazing in this game.
And then you have the gap mode aspects as well, I guess, with cute uwu animals being sacrificed to a tentacle monster. Love it!
I think that the game could be improved upon if the devs focused a little more on individual genres and added to those instead of trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none. It’s like, they had the idea initially of combining two genres but then they didn’t really follow up on either of them and just left them in a barebones state. I think it would be good to focus a patch on adding ways to have a good overview of your cult. And then I’d focus on a patch buffing up the weaker weapons (claws, daggers, hammers). And maybe they could add a boss rush mode or whatever afterwards.
Obviously, though, it’s a good game. Not a great game but a pretty good game, in my opinion, and I still recommend it but with the disclaimer that it’s not a good roguelike and that it’s not a good management game but it’s a good mix essentially.
The devs are working on a lot of things and they seem to keep at it with patches coming out every few days, fixing bugs and issues, including performance issues that I reported. So, I hope they add or rebalance content as well at some point once the bulk of bugs has been taken care of.