Cult Of The Lamb is an adorably crude mashup of some of the best indie game ideas

lamb worship

lamb worship
Image: Digital devolve

Every Friday, audiovisual club staff members kick off our weekly open thread for discussion of game plans and recent gaming glories, but of course the real action is in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What are you playing this weekend?

I think, not for the first time, of the pitiful state of video game nomenclature – and specifically video game gender nomenclature. No other medium has to suffer from this abysmal crap, to face the indignities of, say, calling one of its fastest-growing genre offshoots a “roguelike” – and then having to explain that the Thug in question is a 42 year old Unix game that a tiny number of living people have ever played, and that it doesn’t actually share as many similarities to “roguelike” games in the first place. (And the less said about this unholy Metroidvania portmanteau, the better.) Every art form steals itself, true, but at least film, television, and music have the decency to do so with a minimal elegance.

In any event: lamb worship is the new frostpunk– a little roguelike Don’t starve-a-thon from Devolver Digital and Massive Monster studio. It’s pretty good!

Sorry, sorry, maybe that was a little too flippant. But in a world where so many indie game designs can make developers feel like they’re playing Legos with a variety of fashionable, practical play parts, it’s interesting to see such a weird and unlikely chimera come to life. And that’s even without taking into account all the other parts involved in this dark and bloody little package, which draws a little from the old Happy tree friends trick, too, taking very cute cartoon designs and then running them through an explicitly Lovecraftian ringtone.

The basic premise is simple: you’re the last lamb (as in, a fuzzy little sheep), your kind hunted to extinction because they’re prophesied to resurrect an exiled god. That’s exactly what you set out to do, once your eldritch patron brought you back to life to exact revenge and form a cult of merry little animals to worship in his name. From there, the gameplay is split into two main branches: managing cults, where you build temples, conduct rituals, and, uh, “deal” with splinter members; and Crusades, where you venture out into the world to kill your way to justice.

The cult side, unsurprisingly, is where the frostpunk influences slip into it; even though WorshipThe resource management elements of aren’t as brutal as the ultra-dark apocalypse sim of 11-bit studios, you’ll still find yourself having to find a balance between keeping your people happy and keeping them alive. (Even more explicitly, you are repeatedly offered a series of binary choices that will shape how you grow your herd, although lamb worship dispensation from any of the moral elements which made frostpunk so deeply depressing at times.)

Meanwhile, Crusades will be familiar to anyone who’s spent a lot of time in the roguelike world over the past 10 years. years: pprocedurally generated levels, melee combat built around tracking all the little enemies that scroll across the screen, and a series of random upgrades to keep you ahead of the power curve. The gameplay is satisfying enough, but it’s a crowded gender, and Worship‘s fight, on its own, would leave it as little more than an also-run.

So the fascinating part comes from how the two parts influence each other: CRusades generate resources that allow your cult to thrive, and the stronger your cult, the more spiritual power you can steal from your followers in order to make your bloodwork more successful. It’s a hugely satisfying loop, made even more so by how joyfully the game presents a cute and gory world. It’s also nice to see a game so willing to accept its own darker impulses: “human” sacrifice (deer, rabbit, whatever) is a perfectly viable and accepted way of dealing with HR issues in this organization. particular, and if one of your cultists politely asks you to be served a meal made of, I don’t know, real excrement that you cleaned from the ground? Well, who are you to judge, especially if that keeps their faith meter high? It’s less rude than calling a video game a frostpunkuh or a soulslike, at least.

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