Honey, I Joined a Cult is quite a relevant game that could be set in today’s society, no? The cult simulator by Team17 and Sole Survivor Games is leaving Early Access and releasing version 1.0. Managing a cult has never been more fun, but is it ready for the spotlight? Read on, follower.
At first glance, Honey, I Joined a Cult looks as though it has been cut from the same cloth as games like Prison Architect and RimWorld. While I haven’t personally played those games, playing Honey, I Joined a Cult has definitely given me the itch. You’re tasked with leading the newest cult on the block after the old one got busted, starting with a couple of cult members to start building your following and bank account. The tutorial does a great job of getting you oriented on the cadence of the game by guiding players on how to build facilities, manage members, and take on missions. Eventually, you’ll be managing many members and followers, keeping them fulfilled while draining their money into your coffers, all while keeping your compound running smoothly and the cops off your back.
The gameplay for Honey, I Joined a Cult is very approachable and I felt as though I had a good understanding of the game thanks again to the tutorial. Your cult members operate on a daily schedule, which you can fully manage by choosing when they sleep, work, and have free time to eat, use the bathroom, and enjoy some recreational activities. Ensuring your members are in good moods and nourished is important to ensure they work properly. Generally, they will perform jobs based on their assignments, which includes recruiting followers, running the various rooms the followers will spend their time and money in, and ensuring the compound is running smoothly via maintenance and cooking meals. Each cult member has a rating and skill points that you can assign to improve their performance once the level up. As your cult grows, you’ll gain better quality followers that you can convert to members and start purging your low quality members out into the streets (or somewhere else).
Followers are your main source of income to keep things afloat. Not only do they provide money and recruit potential, but they also provide influence, which you can use for research. There is a relatively large research skill tree that can unlock new rooms for your members/followers, bonus skills for your cult leader, mission types, and other important passive bonuses. Honestly, once you have a good set of members and a bunch of followers, you can feed the research machine pretty well to unlock more to build up your cult and its compound. Your cult leader may also request specific buildings for you to unlock and reward you for your efforts, so it’s important to pay attention to those requests as well. There is a solid flow that happens in terms of what to unlock next if you are managing the cult efficiently, and I never felt rushed to unlock higher level rooms or skills to get out of a jam.
The missions in Honey, I Joined a Cult vary from increasing your public relations rating, acquiring new items to increase the prestige of different rooms in your compound to increase their effectiveness, or decreasing your heat rating to keep protesters and cops away. Missions refresh every 24 hours and have different requirements based on their level and skill needed. Some missions may have optional dialogue choices that can earn you bonuses for completing. Once you send members out on a mission, they will basically be gone for an extended period of time, so it’s important to choose the right time or ensure you have members ready to fill in for their jobs at the compound. Once you unlock the sanctum, you’ll acquire additional mission types to further your cult’s theme. All in all, these can help break up the daily routine and net some solid experience points to level up your members.
The art style of Honey, I Joined a Cult is simple yet charming. It may remind you a lot of the games I mentioned earlier, but the characters, buildings, and room assets are unique and work well. Since you are free to customize your cult, you can change how they dress and what they worship, which will impact different assets in how they look. You are also given the option to choose premade cults; I chose to worship Grimlock as the Dinomen, so all of my members wore dinosaur outfits and worshiped a giant dino egg. The UI is clean, but navigation to certain elements can feel a bit clunky (which is the way things can go when you have a bunch of spreadsheets you are basically navigating through). This game also has a great sense of humor, which makes each character more interesting based on their random and sometimes farcical traits, as well as the random humorous things they say throughout the day. Be prepared to make accommodations for your silly cult members.
There is a lot to like here with Honey, I Joined a Cult, but there are some drawbacks. First things first, the game is coming out of Early Access for a full release, and they have a roadmap of updates they are planning in the near future. This is a stable build and I had no issues with bugs or performance. That being said, I felt like things started growing stale after a while and I started losing steam to keep going. I know there is more meat coming, and sometimes you just don’t want to spend that extra 5-10 minutes re-sorting through your new members’ schedules and work assignments.
If I could recommend 1 thing to the team, I would emphasize some quality of life enhancements that include streamlining assignments and schedules if at all possible. I think it would also help to tweak the progression, as the grind to research can really take some of the momentum out of the game. I was never short of influence points to research, so I would just be waiting around for the workers to do the research to then immediately click the next item I needed (or ensured it was queued up). Add some additional complexity like missions to unlock objects to then perform research on or maybe even some sort of mini-games might help.
This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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Overall, Honey, I Joined a Cult is a great tycoon sim game. It has wit, charm, and solid core gameplay. While there is plenty here to enjoy, I do hope that updates in the coming months really take advantage of the groundwork in this release.