THERE are a few different ways a developer can come at a cultist-themed game. You can treat them as cannon fodder in a first-person shooter (the most popular option), you can have them as the key figures in a thriller/mystery adventure (also a solid choice) or, for something different, you can go for a dark and intriguing journey into the unknown with something like Cultist Simulator (which is basically about being a seeker looking into the Lovecraftian-style unknown).
But there hasn’t been a game about actually running a cult (at least I’m aware of) – until now.
Honey, I Joined A Cult is developed by Sole Survivor Games and published in Early Access on PC (Steam) by Team 17.
In a nutshell, it’s Prison Architect but with a cult theme instead of a prison one. The art styles and humour are the same, the mechanics are mostly the same, and if you’re familiar with the facility building/management genre you’ll be able to jump more or less straight in.
The idea is that you are in charge of an offbeat vaguely 1970s cult – you can run it either as a money-making scam or a semi-serious enterprise, although the game leans strongly towards the former.
You build “therapy” rooms – meditation studios, séance parlours, tesla-coil beds, and so on – and followers from the general population visit, use them, give you money, and build faith which you can then use to expand your operations.
Running your compound are your cultists themselves, with various skills (which can be upgraded) and leading the whole thing is the Cult Leader, who has a distinct personality, whims, and direction for the cult they lead.
While the similarities to games like Prison Architect are clear, where Honey I Joined A Cult adds to the genre is with the idea of off-compound missions. You can send cultists out into the world to raise your PR levels, recruit more followers, steal objects, and do your sacred entity’s (alleged) bidding.
As your cult grows and attracts more attention, the police can get involved as well, especially as you engage in more questionable activities, and keeping them off your back forms an important element of things too.
It’s still too early in the Early Access scheme of things to really form any conclusions about what Honey, I Joined A Cult will be like – there’s obviously a lot of content still to come, and right now it’s absolutely playable, but it’s definitely not content-complete either.
The controls and UI are quite clunky in some areas and need cleaning up too – all things you’d expect from an early access game so not a criticism so much as an example of the “not a finished game” aspect of the whole “early access” thing.
The premise of Honey, I Joined A Cult is intriguing and there’s a lot of promise here, but unless you’re desperate to simulate running your own sham cult right now, I’d monitor this one for further updates and development before committing your coin to it.