Cult of the Lamb, developed by Massive Monster and published by Devolver Digital, is a hybrid roguelite dungeon-crawling, beat ‘em up, base management, adventure game that puts the fun back in “Killing Off Undead.”

I played as a sacrificial lamb for a cult of demonic eldritch abominations. Unbeknownst to them, a heretic demon awaited in the underworld ready to revive me and loan me their magical hat so I could start a cult in their name. When I wasn’t fighting, looting, or converting cult members in the procedurally generated dungeons, I was back at my base building, gathering materials, and managing my cult.

The movement and combat was swift and punchy. Each dungeon run randomly assigned me a weapon and one special ability, both with varying stats and effects. The dungeons themselves branched out from one another with no backtracking as an exercise of judgment rather than thoroughness. Individual chambers were filled with varying enemies, traps, rewards, and, upon four successful runs in each stage, a boss fight. The rewards boosted my character or my base depending on what I stumbled across. Foraging, chests, card readings, generous shop keepers, or fights handed out wealth, health, power, weaponry, gear, gifts, blueprints for my base, or opportunities to welcome more members into the flock.

Back at the base I harnessed devotion and prayers to upgrade my power, abilities, and cult. In the beginning I was flooded with micromanaging as new mechanics continued to be introduced and the bosses threw plagues upon my followers. Food, money, cleanliness, faith, dead bodies, and shelter all needed to be managed. I could make ends meet with gold, love, or blood. The fun came in choosing my approach from a spectrum of totalitarian and altruistic principles to appease my flock and my master. Who served whom? The day-night cycle enhanced my personal enjoyment by adding a sense of urgency in the dungeons. The entire operation could fall into shambles through disease or dissention in my absence. There were additional side areas with quests and mini games whenever I was in need of a change of pace.

Cult of the Lamb offered multiple sources of chaos, which eventually coalesced into a satisfying homeostasis. Late-game dungeon runs could turn into a power fantasy that threatened to buckle the game at its coding. However, I will make note that the game lacked depth, both as a roguelite dungeon crawler and a base manager, to maintain replayability beyond my first completed run. Personally, I don’t see that as a complaint because I loved every minute of it, and I only bring it up because the roguelite genre marks itself as having notable replayability. My only real complaints were that some stages were visually taxing due to the monochromatic art style, it was difficult to discern if a flashing enemy was taking a hit or about to hit me, and a few minor bugs occurred here and there if I did too much damage to a boss.

Artistically speaking, I don’t think a game could have more depth when exploring its own cutesy abomination theme. The design and palette, aside from the oversaturation at times, wonderfully portrayed this colorfully dark landscape. The music was playfully foreboding with instruments corresponding to the nature of each great monstrosity’s domain. The childlike presentation of the dark certainties of life, death, and taxes never failed to amuse me and draw me in with its moral dilemmas. I believe this is a welcome addition to rogue dungeon crawlers and base builders alike; it certainly stands out as a frontrunner within its hybrid niche.

Cult of the Lamb is available August 11 on Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and PC via Steam and GOG for $24.99.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Cult of the Lamb.

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