Lessons Learned – Cultist Simulator

Sometimes people just want a game that allows them to become the leader of a cult. Building a cult from the ground up, persuading random people to believe in a spooky entity, sacrifice them to advance your agenda, destroy evidence that has come to fruition through extensive police investigation are all avenues the layer can take in Cultist Simulator.

Cultist Simulator released May 2018, is a Lovecraftian card game and was developed and published by Weather Factory. It is currently available on Apple Store, Google Play Store and Steam.

I’m going to be incredibly frank here; I honestly do not even know where to begin with this game. The game is a board game that emphasizes the idea that it takes a lot of failure to eventually succeed. You are given a card, usually a job and you have to fill the verb slot, so you work. You are given money and begin the incredibly long descent in crafting a cult from the ground up. You work to gain the money that will keep you alive and pay for expeditions into dark areas. Verbs like Dream, Study and Talk appear and the game lets go of any training wheels you thought were on and it is up to you to read the text and determine what the next correct card will forward your progress on becoming a leader of a cult of your choosing. In the first few hours, I was just experimenting with all of the combinations, dying of an illness because I forgot multiple times how to craft Vitality, dying of despair because I ran out of money to dream about and being arrested.

There are, in the base game, four character paths, or legacies to choose from: The Aspirant, Bright Young Thing, Detective and the Physician. All of the characters start with different story lines, for instance, the Bright Young Thing route does not spawn the Moorland House unless explored for while other legacies may not need as much exploring. Each of the four legacies are super fun and provide different routes and outcomes to certain situations.

One of the most daunting aspects of the game is what it strives to withhold from the player, information. The game wants you to learn the verbs, the plethora of icons that are referenced, the ways to cure certain illnesses, etc. It is a lot of information to retain and there were some points while playing the game that I just wanted to stop because I was investing a lot of time into certain aspects of the game and still coming up short during a long run, but alas I persevered.

Never once have I ever thought that the Pause button would have been my actual best friend. Pausing the game to read a line of text that would give vital information to the next action that I should take was the best decision to make. At first I thought the lines of text were just stupid flavor text that could be avoided because the game was moving so fast that I could not read, but it was just me moving too goddamned fast. Reading is key.

Cards go into verb slots and a timer ticks and usually another card is produced through that action. Working at a job creates money and exploring a book store presents the player with a book of some sort. Cards can also be upgraded, for example, a random bystander can be persuaded with information from the dark arts and be upgraded to a “Pawn” or “Follower.”

Cultist Simulator is a game that I hate and love. I have played about 15 hours of this game and I only achieved a small victory. I have had a lengthy cult but ended up losing to something incredibly stupid (of my own doing). I share a love hate relationship with this game. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the correct paths are and it throws a new obstacle in my face and laughs. There is a lot of depth to this game that may make the learning curve incredibly sharp but once you learn it, it stays learned. It may at times seem like the game has an intense learning curve but only time can teach you the ins and outs of this game that is so latent with information. There are so many avenues it is sometimes overwhelming but the pause key is there to relinquish any anxiety.

My last play through lasted about an hour. I achieved an HQ, imprisoned a believer, failed to destroy evidence seven times and eventually died to an illness.


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