Cultist Simulator: not quite a review.

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.

Fallout 4

Kerri: “so what’s the Fallout 4 verdict?”

My response:

It sure is another open-world game from Bethesda. You’ll never be shocked or amazed while playing it, but there sure are a lot of side-quests and sub-systems to distract you and fill up your winter hours.

And the characters are slightly less robotic than usual. They actually make attempts to emote instead of standing there like plastic automatons delivering woodenly-acted tapes. Still ain’t gonna win an Oscar or anything for its acting.It is a huge pile of okayness that I will probably put hours into, finish the main quest, snark about it, and do about a third of the sidequests of. And every moment I run out of action points and have to do the realtime combat up close, I’ll wish I was playing Bloodborne instead, because holy crap the weapon swap method is so awkward.

I’m also just never much of a fan of the post-apocalypse setting tbh. I keep on looking at its dingy, run-down future and wishing I was playing a similar free-form game set in a bright, happy, optimistic future. Something best summed up as “GTA Coruscant”.

(There was an actual open-world rpg set among the scumlings of Coruscant in the works for a while, but it got canned despite looking pretty promising. That makes me sad every time I think about it. But it doesn’t have to actually be the Star Wars license; I’d be happy with any giant future city full of aircars and ray-throwers and aliens and a customizable PC and sidequests.)

Hohukum Translation Key

I pulled out Sony Santa Monica’s lovely little game “Hohokum” last night for the first time in a while. Found a few more friends. Today I booted it up again and flew around in the carnival area for a while. Last night I’d been wondering if all the alien text in it was translatable; turns out it is.


click for full size

If I recall correctly, there’s text in various other screens, too. I wonder if any of it will be more enlightening than the stuff in the carnival zone? Probably not. I may update this post as I find ’em, or I might just keep it to myself as I keep playing. This is a game that should be a little bit mysterious, IMHO.