Summer Game Fest Showcase: Cult of the Lamb

Devolver Digital’s Marketing Countdown to Marketing happened a few days ago as part of Summer Game fest, and one of the games shown there was Cult of the Lamb. While the game itself isn’t new, the event gave us a release date of August 11 and a demo on Steam. We’ve played through this demo, and are here to give our first impressions of the game. Let’s take a look!


The Story

From Death…

The game starts with your character, a cute little lamb, tied up and surrounded by what appear to be cultists. Your only option for progress is on the bridge to the north. Once you get on the bridge, two of the cultists will block your way back.

Once on the bridge, the credits for the game start rolling. At the end, you’ll reach a new platform, with more cultists, a big executioner, and four very large, very eldritch creatures. The latter start talking about how you’re the last one, and how killing you will prevent some sort of prophecy. At that point, the axe comes down, killing you.

That’s Cult of the Lamb! Let us know what you think-

Nah, just kidding. After you die, you wake up in a new area, where you seem to be on some sort of cloud with large chains coming out of the “ground”. As you head upwards, you meet another creature similar to the previous four, but this one is chained.

The creature, known as The One Who Waits, offers you a deal. You’ll be brought back to life, and in return you’ll create a cult in their name, as well as kill the other 4 creatures, known as the Bishops of the Old Faith. At this point, you’re given two prompts: “Yes” and “Absolutely”.

After you make your choice, a small animation plays where the little lamb is given eldritch, otherworldy powers, and we get the title sequence for the game.


…Rebirth

Once you’re brought back to life, the action starts! You return to the same area where you were killed, and the cultists immediately attack you. The good news is you can fight back (we’ll talk about combat in the Gamplay section of the article).

Once you clear out the cultists and move further into the level, you meet Ratau. They’re the former vessel of The One Who Waits, and is here to lend you a hand. They instruct you to head towards the ruins of their old temple, where you’ll start creating you cult.

On your way out of the woods, you encounter another woodland critter about to be sacrificed to the Bishops. You kill all the cultists and free the critter, teleporting them away. Afterwards, you make your way out of the woodworks and finally arrive at the ruins.

Ratau helps you around a little more. You indoctrinate the critter you saved earlier into your cult, then start building up the base, managing to make a small fireplace before Ratau tells you to go out there to get more materials.

You go into the Land of the Old Faith, the same land you just escaped. The area is similar to the one in the first section of the game, except larger. Your objective is to kill Amdusias. After you do that, or if you die along the way, the demo ends.


Gameplay & Controls

The game is split into 2 main sections: the base-building manager and the so-called “crusades”. Let’s start with the latter.


Crusades

The crusades are where the majority of the combat happens. They are dungeon-crawls where you fight enemies, collect resources and save potential members for your cult. Finishing crusades gets you closer to defeating the four Bishops.

Each crusade is randomly generated and is split into multiple areas with different purposes. When clearing an area, you’ll be brought to a 2D map with multiple branching paths that let you go to the next area. Each area is split into rooms with one or more exits.

The combat areas, which can be identified via the sword icon, are the largest and offer a small dungeon map at the top-right corner of the screen. In the demo we also encountered an area that offered a large number of resources to the players, and there’s also the one where you save a potential cult member from the beginning of the game.

At the start of each crusade you’re offered a weapon and an eldritch ability, called a Curse, to use. The Curse uses Fervor charges, which can be replenished by killing enemies. The selection is random, and it’s likely you’ll be able to unlock more options as the game progresses in the full version.

There are characters you can meet during crusades that can alter your run in various ways. The two we came across are Clauneck and Kudaai. Clauneck gives you a choice between two passives to alter how your run goes. Kudaai lets you change your weapon or Curse.


Building Your Cult

Your cult represents the base-building side of the game. What we get in the demo is pretty limited, but should give us a good idea of what the full game will be like.

The first thing you do when you get to the site of your new cult is indoctrinate the critter from the tutorial section. At this point you can change their name and appearance (kinda’ messed up when you think about it). Each cultist will also have some positive and negative traits that you have no control over.

From here you can give orders to your new cult member. Your initial options are to make them cut trees or mine rocks. At this point, the game takes the cultist over and they perform the tasks assigned. You can talk to them later to assign new tasks or see how their mood is.

Once the little critter is indoctrinated, Ratau will prompt you to create a fireplace and cook some food for your followers. You’ll first need to gather the wood and rocks necessary by chopping down trees and mining the ore.

Once you’ve gathered the materials, you’ll be able to pick where the fireplace will be… placed. You can start building it yourself, or you can wait for one of your followers to come help. From what we can tell, this is true of most activities you can perform in this section.

After the fireplace is built and you make some food, Ratau will tell you go back to the Land of the Old Faith to get more materials and followers. This will likely be the main gameplay loop, where you swap between building your cult and crusading.


Controls

The combat in the game is fast and very responsive. The game fully supports Xbox and Dualsense controllers, each with 3 layouts available, and the game also has fully remappable keyboard controls. The on-screen prompts change to fit the layout of your choice. Both of them play great, but we recommend a gamepad.

There is a fairly big issue with the keyboard controls. The keys for changing from one submenu to another are mapped to A and S and can’t be changed. This means that, if you want to use WASD to navigate the menu, you’ll change submenus instead of going from one item to another. You can assign different keys specifically for menu navigation, but we’re hoping the final game lets you reassign the sub-menu keys as well.

Visuals & Audio

As can be seen from the screenshots, the game has a hand-drawn, cartoony art-style that contrasts really well with the more disturbing parts of the game. The characters are very expressive, and the animations are smooth.

The game has a fairly wide range of graphical settings even as a demo, allowing you to toggle shadows, vsync, chromatic aberrations, and more. It’s not as in-depth as a AAA 3D game, but it’s got quite a few options. It also supports a large variety of resolutions, including ultrawide, for the 10 of us who care.

The music for the game is really good, with upbeat and groovy tunes that fit the situation you’re in (combat, being at the cult, etc.). The sound effects when you hit an enemy are crunchy and really sell the impact. There’s no voice acting in the game, the characters instead making grunts when they talk, which fits the game well.


What do you think of Cult of the Lamb so far? Download the demo on Steam and let us know in the comments bellow! The game will be available on all major platforms on August 11th for 23 USD or your regional equivalent.