Roguelikes are a popular video game genre characterized by three main factors. These are the inclusion of permadeath, procedurally generated levels, and RPG elements. Their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down, with recent titles such as underworld and Return receiving critical praise and mainstream success. Now, one of the most addictive games of 2022 looks set to join their ranks as a beloved fan favorite.
Worship of the Lamb, developed by indie studio Massive Monster and published by Devolver Digital, was released last month to huge acclaim from gamers and reviewers. It effectively combines roguelike dungeon crawling with city management simulation to create a highly addictive and fresh new experience. Here are five things other roguelikes could learn from the Satanic indie title.
Cult of the Lamb combines genres to keep gameplay fresh
As previously mentioned, Worship of the Lamb combines roguelike gameplay with detailed city management sections. Players control a lamb that has been resurrected by “He Who Waits” after being sacrificed by four prophets. In return, he asks the lamb to build a cult in his name and kill the prophets who cast him out. Cult management is detailed, and players build everything from farms, houses, and lumberyards, to cult statues, confessional cabins, and summoning circles. The player must ensure that the cult members’ needs are met, while leaving them to their own devices during dungeon crawling missions to defeat the prophets. This combination of genres is effective in keeping the gameplay fresh while ensuring the dungeon crawling sections don’t get too repetitive.
Different game segments support each other and provide clear progression
The two genres are not simply combined unnecessarily. Instead, the segments support each other and feel equally useful. For example, a well run cult will generate more devotion and stronger support demons, which will improve the lamb’s abilities when in a dungeon. In turn, the lamb can bring home resources, gold, and even new followers from his adventures to benefit the general welfare of the sect. Although resources and cult loyalty are reduced if the lamb dies, the game brings back a percentage of the resources found, so players will still feel a sense of progression. As a result, both gameplay sections are equally important and players won’t feel too frustrated.
Each dungeon run feels unique in Cult of the Lamb
Worship of the Lamb does a fantastic job of making sure every dungeon run is new and exciting. Roguelikes are naturally characterized by their use of procedurally generated dungeons. However, the Massive Monster entry adds several other features to further enhance the unique feel of each dungeon. For example, at the start of each round, players are given a randomly assigned weapon and curse, which can be upgraded by collecting tarot cards throughout the dungeon. Each loadout has its own strengths and weaknesses, requiring players to adapt their playstyle and approach each dungeon differently. However, players who like or dislike a certain loadout may find other weapons, spells, and maps later in their run. This gameplay variety prevents dungeon crawling segments from becoming stale.
Cult of the Lamb Runs can be adapted to suit the player’s needs
Worship of the Lamb also gives players more control over their runs to ensure everyone feels useful. For example, players can choose different paths through dungeons, focusing on different types of resource gathering to meet their cult’s needs. As a result, players feel more in control of both their cult and their dungeons during missions. It also adds to the player’s sense of progression, making each run feel less like a waste of time as they actively have the opportunity to collect the resources their cult will find most useful. Other roguelikes can be frustrating if the player is unable to progress after each run.
Plenty of customization options allow players to get heavily involved
Although the game’s overall story is fairly basic, its customization options mean that players will easily get attached and stay invested in the game. Players can name, design, interact with, complete missions for, and even marry their members of worship, meaning each looks less like a carbon copy and more like an actual living being. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that each character also has personality traits that impact their behavior and productivity within the cult. Seeing each member in this way allows players to become emotionally invested in their well-being and pushes them to keep playing.