A uniquely familiar title.
I've never played a game like Cult of the Lamb — there, I said it. Even with all of my years of loyally playing games and delving into some of the most obscure (and oftentimes beloved) titles I could find, Cult of the Lamb remains a wholly unique experience.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I've ever swung across New York in other titles aside from Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, nor have I ever slain gods and mythological creatures while taking care of a boi in anything outside of God of War, but the essence of Cult of the Lamb is unlike anything I've ever experienced, and it's surprising. Though, I don't wish to deceive you — Cult of the Lamb isn't revolutionary, nor does it incorporate never-before-seen mechanics and genres; instead, it's how remarkably familiar the game is that makes it unique.
Cult of the Lamb's singular, most surprising success is how seamlessly it incorporates genres that otherwise should have nothing to do with each other. While action-adventure titles stick to themes and tones that make the game familiar in an aspect (fantasy setting, action-based combat, good vs. evil narrative), Cult of the Lamb impressively stands out thanks to its borderline oxymoronic approach to every aspect of the game. The game's cute visuals are contrasted by otherwise gruesome themes and tonalities, with religious undertones of the devil, sin, sacrifice, and even tyrannical abuse of power. Gory cannibalism is made cutesy thanks to the game's graphics, and it creates an exciting dissonance that isn't otherwise present in most titles. Likewise, the fast-paced and action roguelike gameplay appeals to gamers that wish split-second decisions to matter, but the inverse is also true, as relaxing, borderline life simulator aspects are present with the game's decoration, cult management, cooking, and fishing. Seemingly, Cult of the Lamb's approach is to stand out unique by being everything at once.
One of the things that most stood out to me was how the game's similarities parallel other, very famous titles and incorporates them seamlessly into its own formula. Cult of the Lamb has roguelike action reminiscent of games like Dead Cells, The Binding of Isaac, and even plenty of resemblance to Hades' fast-paced combat. Meanwhile, it also incorporates life simulator aspects similar to Harvest Town or Stardew Valley. It also has visuals that could convince me Cult of the Lamb is by Klei Entertainment due to its likeness to Don't Starve. Each and every single one of these are well-known and established franchises, and it shows that Massive Monster did their research and meticulously built Cult of the Lamb from what they learned.
Cult of the Lamb's uniqueness comes from both the cognitive dissonance of the contrasting tones present in the title and the similarities that we've come to love from well-established games in the industry. It doesn't try to be one genre or bind itself to a singular ideology. Instead, it amasses almost every genre under the sun and creates a harmonic balance between all of them — another dissonance to add to the Cult of the Lamb belt: it is unique in how remarkably familiar all of its themes are.
Want to experience cognitive dissonance personified in a videogame? Check out Cult of the Lamb, out now!