The _rogues flip me. This genre born in the indie panorama introduced two really interesting concepts to the video game industry: permanent death and levels designed procedurally. This gives rise to very interesting things, such as the possibility of introducing playable loops that had rarely seen themselves.
They combine the tension for having to start over if you die typical of the current battle royale, the progression within that same run of a card game or the own learning factor as a way to reduce the difficulty in the style of the souls. But it is true that not all rogues are the same.
The roguelikes are the ones that limit the progression to the improvement of our ability as players, while the roguelites present options for us to improve after each run for the procedural rooms. Spelunky would be an example of the first, and Rogue Legacy one of the second. Well, I have been able to play a few hours to Cult of the Lamb and I think the zenith of the roguelites.
Theory of rogue
Each of these subgenres of the rogues has problems. You will see it clearly with a small difficulty chart over time. In the images below you have the complexity of a title depending on the time used and the genre to which it belongs.
A traditional video game would follow an increasing difficulty, which would fit the flow theory that I told you a few months ago as a wartles, and that would make us grow while the game itself does. On the other hand, a roguelike would always have the same difficulty and a roguelite would allow us to descend this as we improve our character.
As a general rule, any separation of the flow theory would make us fall, or in a boredom zone, or in one of frustration. The rogues have ways to avoid this, such as Spelunky’s shortcuts that reduce the frustration of having to spend the full game in a run, or return home after each area as happens in Children of Morta, or the need to spend all the gold between Run and Run of the aforementioned Rogue Legacy.
Cult of the Lamb is framed in the last type, that of _roguelite. This is because it has the possibility of improving our protagonist in a totally radical way. In the few hours I have played, that they have not made me pass from the first area, I hit the hardest, I have more improvement options in my run and I can do things that I was not able before.
However, I have realized that most games have two improvement options: or some aesthetic additions to feel progression without altering the difficulty of the game (roguelikes), or direct improvements for the character ( roguelites). What happens with Cult of the Lamb is that it perfects a third option that, although not novel, does rise to the nth power.
I speak of the mixture of systems and the introduction of a new genre between run and _run. We have an example of this with Moonlight , a Spanish game that made us go adventure to collect materials that we could sell in our store. This added an economic management layer, with extras such as deflation for saturating the market, as well as strokes of improvement of the people.
The mixture of genres as a master formula
Some time ago I told you about a game that had a lot to do with Cult of the Lamb and that, although it had a great idea in hand, did not just find the key (at least in the preview version that I tried). I mean Honey, I Joined to Cult, a sect simulator in which we could customize and manage our cult. The systems he used were, in essence, quite similar to the lamb game. But here they are not the whole, they are part of something greater.
If the way to improve our character outside the runs is related to a lot of additional systems, such as creating a sect, building structures and managing our faithful, while the way to improve this sect is to collect resources in our runs, We have something bigger than each of these parts.
The difficulty of a townbuilder and a management game go beyond getting power and hitting more on each occasion. This goes to get resources, use space correctly and attend to small details. Different satisfaction levers are activated in our head , making Cult of the Lamb dodge the conventions of the genre thanks to other genres.
And all this seasoned with a first-time Game Feel, its own graphic style and a macabre humor in the purest Happy Tree Friends style. A winning recipe that makes me bite my nails waiting for the final version of the video game published by Returo Digital.