By Matt Wright | 31 May 2018
I was lucky enough to score a copy of this game from the lovely people over at Weather Factory early, to play and review. In the time I have played so far (7 hours) this isn’t the game I usually go for, but I will admit: I have really enjoyed it so far.
If you’re also not a fan of this genre, I would still suggest giving it a try. I should also add that this review is based on a beta build of the game and some of the criticisms below may have changed by the time the final build comes out.
The basic concept of the game is to create and grow your own cult. What I enjoy is the way the game makes you play it. Rather than through cutscenes or quick time events, everything unravels through each draw of a card and the decisions you make will shape what happens next. This means your next action could either make or break your rise to cult fame! With this gameplay style, it guarantees a unique run each time.
So how the game works is that your first run starts off with just two cards: “Work” and “Menial Employment”. Once these are combined, you start earning income, then there is the need for sleep and nourishment. Then you really start to notice the game unfold as more options become available to you, where you need to manage them accordingly. There is also a race to beat the clock as each action and decision has a finite amount of time. If you don’t complete the action in time, it could cost you. A nice touch I like is the fact that you can pause the timer or even increase the speed of it, so you can either have a breather and just take your time making the right decisions or try and get through some of the longer waits quicker.
At this point, I bet you're wondering how this counts as a cult sim rather than just… a life sim. Well, as I mentioned before, the further you progress, the more options open up to you. When you unlock the ability to explore the town, you can come across places of interest such as bookstores, auction houses or even nightclubs. Each of these locations offers their own perks such as the bookstore providing literature to expand your knowledge of the dark arts, and the auction house allows you to sell items to fund your journey to an all-powerful cult. Now, with trying to grow your cult, you are going to be noticed by people either wanting to join your cause or hinder it. From here you can use bonus effects cards to either indoctrinate people and have them on your side or intimidate them to keep them at bay.
One thing I am well acquainted with in this game is death, due to me not getting very far and either dying from no money or from being sacrificed by other cults. This is likely down to me being too trusting and being poor with money management. Due to this particular skill, I did find another thing that I really liked. Upon death, you don’t just start again, you pick a profession. This could be either a budding writer or a doctor returning to work.
Upon starting your new role, you come across notes or documents from your last attempt and from the ashes of your last failure, you attempt to rebuild the cult. This is a nice touch and gives me the feeling that your last failed attempt wasn’t in vain.
Now, you should know at this point I am not the biggest fan of handholding in modern games. Actually, most of the time, I hate it as it makes me feel the developers think that you are going to struggle to do the simplest tasks. However, that being said, I do feel Cultist Simulator could do with new tips and hints just to point you on the right track. The art design for this game works really well, the whole game is played on a large card table.
Each card is really well designed and all to a gothic theme which adds to the whole aesthetic of the game.
When I went headfirst into Cultist Simulator, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the game as much as I have been and I feel it is very approachable. With the system specs required to run it too, this will run on any half decent/mid spec machine out there, only requiring 1GB of RAM and a 2Ghz processor, so pretty much anyone could play it.
Low hardware requirements
Steep Learning curve