“Thematically, Honey, I Joined a Cult hits the nail on the head.”
Have you ever wanted to worship a divine being, build a home for your ever-growing band of underlings and, of course, profit? If you answered “yes” to these questions then, frankly, it’s a wonder you haven’t started a cult already. Nevertheless, if the idea hadn’t crossed your mind before you will be pleased to hear that your opportunity has already arrived!
Honey, I Joined a Cult is the PC gaming gateway to building and managing a start-up cult and working to recruit a loyal, generous, and wealthy following whose members are willing to donate their way to your divine being’s good books. Groovy 60’s-style overtones and a tongue-in-cheek delivery provide a witty and entertaining take on cultist life, removing the harsh realities of real-world examples in favour of a loose interpretation created purely for your amusement. Think Prison Architect with a thematic switch, and you are vaguely starting out on the right tracks.
There are arguably four key paradigms to starting a cult in Honey, I Joined a Cult: customisation, construction, management, and progression. These play out in roughly this order, and each is executed with its own merits and flaws. The first steps in forming any cult are establishing a leader, “recognising” a deity, forming a hierarchy, designing a uniform, and finding some devoted (see gullible) friends to help you get started. Much of the leg work is done for you as you prepare to set out on the cultist journey. You can swiftly customise all of these elements from a small flurry of options set before you and get straight into the action to follow. Whilst this brief range of key decisions is completed quickly, it feeds heavily into the humour to follow, so it is worth exploring the funny hats and pretty colours on offer. Customisation is executed well in the game and options can be changed later should the tastes of your illustrious leader fluctuate. This aspect of the game is, ultimately, a bit of good, honest fun.
Next up is construction then. Construction in Honey, I Joined a Cult is a pretty standard process that will feel familiar to any base building game fan. Put simply, you set out your foundations, select a room to designate the new building as and proceed to fill it with the necessary objects; easy! Worthy of note is the lack of actual construction in the game; structures are erected, and objects placed instantly ala The Sims, speeding up the process of bringing the cult’s complex to life. The upside to this is efficiency, however, the instantaneous nature of the initial build can make the early game feel lacking in progress and context… The individual rooms found in the game range from the expected accommodations, eateries, and wash spaces to the theme-specific additions of spaces for worship, meditation, and where necessary some more… persuasive means of keeping your followers and cultists in check. These thematic rooms feel relevant and crucial to the overall game, and none feel as though they have been shoehorned into the mix, leading to a well-thought-out base building experience. This is further exemplified by the inclusion of more decorative and desirable objects which can be used to promote the wellbeing of your cultists and the prestige of their would-be home.
Management of your cult is important. You can’t have cultists running around without commitment after all! Akin to similar games such as Rimworld, the most important management aspect of your cultists are setting their work priorities. Cultists are skilled (or not) in different areas, from their social abilities to labouring competencies. Allocating the right number and quality of cultists to different roles around the complex can be crucial to your prosperity and the glory of your divine being. A persuasive cultist, for example, maybe best be placed at your reception, greeting would-be followers to your complex. Meanwhile, a cultist who is talented at bluffing may be well poised to give sermons, encouraging followers to loyally and financially support your divine being. Paired with a genre-unique levelling system that sees cultists hone their talents over time, the management system of the game is a good fit for the theme and one which never feels out of your control.
On the topic of progression, the final key paradigm of Honey, I Joined a Cult, levelling up enthusiastic colonists is the tip of the iceberg. Progress in the game comes in many forms, from well-conducted PR missions bringing additional followers to your doorstep to a more traditional research tree. The latter bears fruit through both enhancements to rooms and objects which are available to you early on, to exploring new ways to expand your following and exert your divine being’s will. Whilst research follows a fairly genre-typical model, one criticism of this aspect of the game is that it doesn’t logically follow that some rooms/initiatives should need researching at all, nor does the order make sense at times. For example, a canteen room is available to construct from the off, but the kitchen room takes a while to reach on the tech tree. In fact, it is possible to research an inner sanctum for your leader before a kitchen to feed your followers with anything other than vending machine goodies. Not only does this lack a certain common sense, it also leads to illness and unhappiness amongst your cultists in the early game. A sink that actually allows cultists to clean their hands before eating is another tool missing from your arsenal at the launch of your colony, too, leading to similar healthcare mishaps and many hospital engagements…
Thematically, Honey, I Joined a Cult hits the nail on the head. The entertaining approach to the cult “experience” is deployed effectively and interestingly from the word go. Mechanically, the game is largely simple to follow and whilst some elements might be thought of as fairly standard for the genre others are quite unique and add a little seasoning on top. Not all of the mechanics are clean and smooth at this early development stage, with a few menus sticking around on screen longer than one might like and a couple of bugs here and there, but the future looks bright and work is already in progress to tidy these aspect up. The only real criticism I have for the game is that the early game feels slow going, illogically ordered and frustratingly activity-limited. Push through, and the game becomes ever more enjoyable, but be warned this is a hurdle to be leapt in order to get your money’s worth.
Get yourself a copy of the game here on steam for £15.99
Developer: Sole Survivor Games
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Early access games are unfinished games, so we do not score them, as this would be unfair, unprofessional and just dumb on our part.
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