Cultist Simulator - PC Review

Cultist Simulator isn't really a card game, so much as it is a game that uses cards to depict game elements, and in this, I got something both unexpected and unknowable. By spending time dreaming of the Cultist Simulator card, I was able to glean some small measure of insight into this opaque title. It was shortly thereafter, in a gambit to evade the investigator looking into ME, that I decided to focus on my studies too much, fell ill, and perished to starvation.

You see, it's a survival game that doesn't really teach you how to survive. Not really. Sure, it gives you the basics on how to move a card onto an activity tile, but it is left up to you to discern what it's all GOOD for. Sometimes, you get positive outcomes, sometimes negative outcomes, and if something is too good to be true, it IS.

I lost many games to being drawn into my work. You need money to survive, and it is periodically consumed as you play. You have four resources, for the most part. Money, of course, and then the three elements of a person… the body (health), the mind (reason), and the heart (passion). You can use one of these resources for your work to earn more money, but the more you do this, the more you will be forced to do this in the future, which will undoubtedly cause you to fail if you're not cautious about your choices.

Working with your passion will allow you to work with arts, and use the mystery surrounding you to increase your funds, but this will only amplify the mystery about you… which will allow investigators to linger longer, feeding on the mystery to keep them fixated upon your actions. The larger the risk, the larger the gains… or perhaps I should say the larger the gains, the larger the downside associated with those gains.

The background music is forgettable, but adds an eerie ambiance to the title that really enhances the feel of there being against the whole world. The creeping dread in the back of your mind, the dogged pursuit of investigators, the occult mysteries that sap your strength in return for eldritch might… and through all of this, you are expected to start a cult, recruit followers, and advance their mastery and might too! Does this all sound like a lot? Well it is.

Every card has little indicators of its 'type' that helps you gain a little bit of insight into what it might be useful for. Anything with the type 'moth' for example is associated with Chaos and yearning. Mean anything to you? Me either, at first, but after my seventh playthrough, I started to notice trends. And that is the biggest crux of this game… ignorance. You know nothing, and you are told very little… save a vague idea that you need to gather together scraps of knowledge, study them, and learn from them to advance. This holds true within the context of the game, but also of your development as someone playing the game.

The ability to pause indefinitely means that you'll never feel rushed, but you will only be offputting the inevitable decline if you pause too much… because much like my favored Roguelikes, death is inevitable and unavoidable while you figure out what you're doing. So long as you have pause (Space) and a mouse, the controls are really just drag and drop. If you've used any modern operating system, you already know the majority of how, mechanically, to play the game.

As far as I can tell, the game is deterministic, and if you play correctly, when you learn what playing correctly even IS, then you shall succeed and ascend to your rightful place.

Game Information

Weather Factory
Humble Bundle
Collectible Card Game
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Marc H.


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