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Cultist Simulator game review

yockenthwaite

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I recently downloaded this game for my iPad, and thought I'd jot down some quick thoughts. It was originally created through a Kickstarter campaign, for the PC version. It's available on Steam, but I gather it's new to the iPad.

 

It's a very strange game to describe! It's a card game for starters, and you move cards around on the virtual tabletop in the app. Cards can represent goals, or artefacts, or aspects of your life. And they can interact with each other, and unlock other cards. There is an in game beginner’s guide, hidden in the settings under need more help. But generally it's assumed you will learn by doing, and pick up the gameplay that way.

 

The start of the game varies, depending on your starting character, which can change on replays. You could be a police detective, or physician, or something else. But soon things change, and from the very start there are hints of a wider, darker plot, which you can uncover, card choices permitting.

 

The game has a set of running stats for things like health and funds. Obviously you don't want these to drop to zero. You can die, very easily in this game. The game keeps track of how these and other stats change as you play, but much of this process is hidden from the player, and it isn't obvious why things happen the way they do, as you play through the game.

 

Manipulating cards moves the plot forward. For example if you have a work card you can place certain other cards on top of it, to influence the work direction that you pursue. Likewise dreams can be manipulated. Timers kick in on such cards which after they elapse can yield more cards. If you're getting that I'm not quite clear on the mechanics you'd be quite right!

 

If you survive for long enough you get a chance to found a cult. You can also pick up followers, and have to deal with adversaries. One card I found was for a Roman Mithras temple. To explore it I needed two followers, and various other cards. I haven't got to that level of advanced gameplay yet! But it is a nice hint of how deep you can dig into the story, all going well.

 

One downside is that if you die - and you most certainly will! - you then have to start playing again from the start again. Which could be rather tedious, but you can take it as an opportunity to make very different choices. And because you can choose from a variety of characters when you restart the game, play can be quite different from before. I found that as I played again I got better at managing the core stats, and uncovering more plot. But I still have a long way to go. It is very moreish though - just one more go, and then some.

 

Apart from the rather nebulous hints of what's going game mechanic wise, the user interface is intuitive, and the graphics nicely designed. I almost wish I could play this on a real tabletop, laying out the cards. Manipulating cards on the iPad screen is fun, even if you don't always know what you're doing.

 

Cost wise the game is quite expensive for a plunge or impulse buy. When I bought it for my iPad the cost to me in the UK was £4.99. On Steam the game currently costs £10.49, but that's in a 30% sale at the moment, so isn't the usual price.

 

Would I recommend it? Yes, but beware you'll probably either love it, or just not like it much. It's definitely got an appeal for Lovecraftian fans, with an often bleak storytelling experience stuffed full of Lovecraftian elements. It's a fun and convenient game to play on the iPad. But whether you'd keep playing after the first dozen or so times I'm not so sure. But it might be a keeper.

 

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MrHandy

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I've had this game on my Steam wishlist for some time, but even with that 30% discount, it's still too expensive for me to consider buying, especially since I have hundreds of games I haven't even played yet and probably will never get around to playing the vast majority of them. I'll wait until there's a much steeper discount. It does look fun, though!

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yockenthwaite

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12 hours ago, MrHandy said:

I've had this game on my Steam wishlist for some time, but even with that 30% discount, it's still too expensive for me to consider buying, especially since I have hundreds of games I haven't even played yet and probably will never get around to playing the vast majority of them. I'll wait until there's a much steeper discount. It does look fun, though!

 

Yes I think the price point is a problem unless (1) you're definitely going to play it, (2) you're confident you'll like it, and obviously (3) you have the cash available. It's definitely over the "Get now!" price range, on both iOS and Steam, even with the current 30% discount. Hope you nab it in a bigger sale in future!

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