As much as I loved the Spider-Man game, and as much as I adored Red Dead Redemption this year (and think that both games are very much worth your time and worth getting a PS4 for), the game that has eaten up the most of my time this year has been a little indy game called “Cultist Simulator”.
(It’s currently available at the Steam Store and, during this Winter Holiday Sale, it’s 25% off.)
Mechanics-wise, I’d say that it probably falls into the category of “resource management”… but it’s really like nothing I’ve ever played before.
The game is set in some strange neo-Victorian era. Technology has stuff like 8mm movie projectors but there don’t seem to be computers around. You choose a role when you play, either some workaday schlub, or doctor at The Institute, or a policeman in charge of investigating cults, or a Beautiful Young Trust Fund person, or a dancer at a cabaret, and you stumble across the occult and starting your own cult.
Along the way, you discover ultra-secret bookstores, hidden cabarets, and esoteric auction houses. You have to deal with the risks of slipping into a deep despair on the one hand and slipping into madness on the other. You’ll encounter books written in languages that you’ve heard of and books written in languages that you’ve never heard of and even a couple of languages that nobody living could possibly teach you. (Luckily, you can cultivate some connections among nobody living.) At the same time, if you get too notorious, the cops are going to start investigating you and then you’re going to have to figure out the best ways to deal with pesky evidence in the hands of pesky investigators.
It’s a game that rewards you more and more the more and more you play it. When you discover little things like “contentment can counteract mounting dread” and turn the game from something that you lose in 3 minutes into something that you lose in 10 (and then make other little discoveries about yet other interactions between cards), it becomes a game that you can think about and watch dance on your eyelids as you fall asleep.
This game is absolutely amazing and, despite Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemptions excellence… the game I’m going to have spent the most time on, at the end of the day, will be Cultist Simulator. (You should check it out. It’s on sale!)
So… what are you playing?
(Featured image is Cultist Simulator’s promotional image.)