I am the unluckiest cult leader in the world, or at least TheGamer. Dungeons constantly get locked off, forcing me to restart the game; crashes happen if I spend too long at my camp; only six followers bother showing up to the temple; doing more than one ritual makes the UI disappear, and when I decide to sacrifice a cultist, sometimes the camera follows them into the void. Safe to say, my time with Cult of the Lamb has been a buggy mess.
Massive Monster has created an indie darling that will no doubt make its way onto my GOTY list, which is doubly impressive given the slew of glitches I’m powering through, but part of me is so tempted to put it down for good because the bugs are that much of a headache. No one else at TheGamer seems to be having this much trouble, so I’m convinced I’ve been cursed because I keep feeding my followers their own shit. But one look at Reddit and Twitter shows that bugs are plaguing Cult of the Lamb en masse. User score, sales, player count, and reviews all show that it isn’t a dealbreaker – bugs are just par for the course these days.
Cult of the Lamb is an indie launch in a pandemic so it’s a given that it wouldn’t come out in a perfect state, but our tolerance for such things has skyrocketed. These aren’t fun harmless bugs as you’d find in Skyrim where occasionally a horse flies into the sky or an NPC starts to submerge into the cobblestone road – these break the game. I’ve had huge bouts of lost faith because of impossible-to-finish quests, demanding I sacrifice certain cultists that won’t bother coming to the temple. Meanwhile, I can’t beat the spider dungeon because of an invisible enemy glitch, with some pushing out of the walls and becoming unreachable. Hell, I had one get caught on my projectile and permanently bounce around while their health infinitely regenerated.
In conversations about the game’s brilliance, bugs are often swept under the rug as an expectation, which is where things get confusing. I’m not sure what pushed the tolerance up so high, but the subreddit isn’t exploding in anger toward these bugs as is unfortunately often the case – they’re being turned into memes and discussions, paralleling the game’s wholesome horror. It’s nice to see that the devs aren’t being bombarded with hate, but even warranted critique feels absent. This could be down to it being an indie rather than a decade-long triple-A hype machine as in the case of Cyberpunk 2077, but game-breaking bugs are game-breaking, no matter the title.
It’s not causing user scores to dip on Metacritic or Steam, with over a million players already dipping their toes into this world, so I’ve no doubt developer Massive Monster will get around to fixing these problems and then some. But it’s a little worrying that we’re getting used to bugs of this magnitude being fixed post-launch rather than while the game is still in development. It makes it feel more akin to an early access release, rather than the final 1.0 push, with players being roped in as involuntarily bug testers. It’s not as transparent and forthcoming as it could be – as early access is – so maybe a month or two in the oven would’ve done this game a lot of good.
If the responses are anything to go by, though, I’m talking out my arse and nobody really cares that much about how broken it is. For me, it’s detracting from the overall experience, making it more of a chore to sit down and play than a fun pastime, which this game could be with a bit more polish. I might just pack up and become one of those (not-so) old grumps that shakes his fist in the air, “I wait a couple of months before buying a game these days!”
Bugs are still a dealbreaker for me, and I’ve hovered over that uninstall button so long that I’m finally going to break, just like my countless runs in Cult of the Lamb.
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