A while back I played this art game called “Sunset”. In Sunset, you took the role of a maid, wandering around a super awesome bachelor pad the developers had built based on a spread in a late sixties issue of Playboy. You found messes, you clicked on them, the screen faded out and back in, and then they were cleaned up again.
There was something about a romance between your character and the Brazilian dictator who owned the place, told through furtive notes left lying around as the game progressed. But I don’t remember anything about that. What I remember is that after a while playing it, I closed the game, got up, and did some cleaning around the apartment that I’d put off. I never returned to it afterwards and probably never will.
I bring this up because I am feeling the same sensation from Cultist Simulator.
I drag a few cards into slots, I watch a timer expire, and then I am told I have Made an Art, which resulted in some mix of money, fame, and the occasional emotion. Sometimes, at random, I am told I have made a Great Art. If I made it secretly about something majgickqghahl then I get a lot more famous a lot faster. Which is not without its own problems, but it sure makes it easier to make money making art that’s about nothing but my own passions.
I look at my Tarot deck and the obvious opportunity presented by reprinting it, and I feel the same sensation I felt playing Sunset: “get up”, my brain says, “get up, stop pretending to do this, do this for real”.
And maybe get up and break out the books on majgicqgh and try to spend a little time with that more days than not, too. Probably not to the extent that I become a notorious cult leader who sends her minions off to raid libraries and ruins for ever-more-esoteric texts and trinkets, that sure sounds like some work.
Cultist Simulator is a much more compelling system than Sunset. There’s a lot of things to play with. A lot of things to figure out. And I can feel it tickling the same parts of my brain that the beginning of an idle clicker game does, before it starts taking longer and longer to build up enough resources to do anything interesting. There’s a lot of neat little stories that assemble themselves out of the masterfully-crafted snippets of prose throughout the game, and those are fun to see when they happen.
But I can feel restlessness growing inside me. I can fee the urge to get up and resume the Great Work, whatever I determine it really is.
And if there is one thing this game has taught me, it is that Restlessness turns into Dread after a little while, and that if enough Dread piles up then you succumb to it. And die.
Five stars out of five. Would stop playing again.