IT’S hard not to be disappointed when a great idea doesn’t live up to its potential, but that’s what appears to have happened with Honey, I Joined A Cult.
Honey, I Joined A Cult has been developed by Sole Survivor Games and published by Team 17 for PC and at first glance, looks very much like Prison Architect or Rimworld (it uses the same engine).
It has a very different premise, however – you’re in charge of a dodgy 1970s-esque cult, looking to fleece your followers for all they’re worth, line your own pockets, and stroke your own ego in the process.
I had an Early Access look at the game last year and was cautiously optimistic, but having played the release version I find myself disappointingly underwhelmed.
The basic construction of your compound is pretty straightforward – build rooms like bedrooms, canteens, kitchens for your followers and then establish therapy rooms for various shonky “treatments” (like zapping people with electricity, hosting faked séances, etc)
As you conduct research, more rooms become available to you, and you can unlock “Divine Inspirations” which guide the direction of your cult.
Unfortunately, once you’ve got your cult set up, it can pretty much run on autopilot and largely involves waiting around for research to complete so you can build more buildings.
The game has a great sense of humour – there’s all sorts of pop culture references in the game, including a side-mission taken directly from an episode of Red Dwarf – and that certainly helps prevents things getting too grim when some of the darker aspects of the cult activities come into play.
There’s a lot of potential here and it’s a great idea with the right tone, but it just didn’t come together for me.
I really can’t put my finger on where it went wrong – I mean, Prison Architect and Rimworld both use the same engine and vaguely similar concepts (compound management) and manage to be entertaining and engaging. Part of it might be that Honey, I Joined A Cult doesn’t have those organic story moments you find in similar titles – such as a daring prison escape attempt coming together in the middle of a spontaneous riot –
Some of the side objectives you need to complete proved troublesome as well – for example, I had one where my Seekers would suffer a significant unhappiness penalty for eating food worse than a fairly high quality dish which I hadn’t unlocked and wasn’t remotely close to researching.
As your cult grows and you do shadier and shadier things, you’ll attract more heat which will result in protests by angry mobs and then police raids – which can eventually shut your cult down.
There just seemed to be a lot of hands-off time involved and I just didn’t really get the sense my cult was growing towards anything. Yes, there’s an endgame state (in my case, I went with futurists looking to build a rocket to visit the planet of our Supreme Being) but getting there was just so grindy as to be unrewarding.
I was also disappointed at the lack of ultrawide monitor support – this isn’t a technically advanced game so I shouldn’t have to put up with black bars down the sides of the image.
There’s a lot of potential here, but I think this game is missing something and didn’t provide the reward or payoff I was hoping for, despite its promising premise.
It’ll be interesting to see if the developers continue to add to the game – it may well be that down the track this blossoms into something far more engaging, but for now, there’s other things to devote your gaming time to.