Saturday Morning Gaming: My Favorite Game This Year

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.)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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6 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Gaming: My Favorite Game This Year

  1. This may seem like a strange question, but here it is: I’m someone who plays almost no video games, but am interested in finding one. Would this game be good for a beginner like me?

    There are only two games that I’ve played/am playing consistently: Risk (but I lost the cd-rom it came on) and Triple-A’s WWII game. (I’ve tried Triple-A’s Napoleon and US Civil War games, but they’re too complicated for me.)

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    • Hrm. Let me think. (Sorry it took me so long to get back to this. Christmas. You know how it is.)

      The mechanics are essentially simple. For example, there are three speeds: Paused, Normal, Accelerated.

      You pause by hitting the space bar.

      So, mechanically, you’re not going to be asked to twitch or anything. You pause, you make your plan, you unpause.

      When it comes to succeeding at playing the game? I don’t know. I had to watch tutorials on how to do this or that other thing. I had to use the wiki to figure out some of the mechanics.

      Like, one of the things you can do is start a cult. You can induct other people into the cult (indeed, one of the things the game tells you is that a cult with one member is merely an odd habit). The people you have join you will have different skills. Like, one will be good at “Knock”, another will be good at “Knife”.

      The time might come when you send your followers out on an expedition to a site of some mystical significance to dig up artifacts of one kind or another. Depending on what you encounter there, you will want to have different followers go on the expedition. If the expedition has hidden doors, for example, you will want to send the people with knock. If the expedition has guardians, you might want to send people with knife (or you might want to send people skilled at seduction… or people skilled at obfuscation).

      The more I think about it… the more I think that this might be a hair complicated for someone who plays almost no video games.

      I mean, get this: last night (Christmas Eve), I finally got my first *REAL* good ending to the game. I’ve been playing this game for months. I have succumbed to despair countless times. I have succumbed to mania countless times. I have figured out how to avoid getting sick and dying (finally), but the only “good” endings I had to this point were stuff like “The Policeman catching the cultist, getting a promotion, living a boring middle class life” or “The Dancer marrying a patron and living a boring upper class life”.

      It took me months to figure out how to summon an ancient outsider. It took me months to figure out how to learn ancient languages that had died by the time what we know of as civilization had begun.

      But, for me, that sort of thing is My Jam, as the kids say.

      Here. I’d suggest watching the first five or so minutes of this video. (Turn the sound off… you want to avoid the “yo, yo, yo, hey what’s up, it’s ya boi sparky, be sure to hit that like button and comment and please subscribe, hey we’re gonna play Cultist Simulator” level commentary. But watch the gameplay.)

      You might say “that doesn’t even look like a game?”
      You might get entranced.

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        • Okay. So here is my recommendation:

          I see that you enjoyed playing Risk and Triple-A’s WWII game and that gives me a couple of hints.

          You like strategy games. You like board games. You like war games. You like big maps.

          The best game that I can think of that fits all of those categories is Small World 2.

          I find that game to be fun and it doesn’t ask too much of me. Plus, if you have a small intimate gathering, you can buy the physical board game, bust it out, and dominate your dinner party.

          If you like the strategy and the board game part more than the war and the maps part, I cannot recommend Lords of Waterdeep enough. I *LOVE* that game. It’s a fun board game that has more emphasis on subterfuge than outright hostility. (But there’s some hostility in there.) (And, again, if you love the game, buy the physical copy and lay the smack down with your gaming group.)

          (In both cases, don’t get the DLC unless you fall in love with the game. The DLC doesn’t change the game from “meh” to “cool”, merely from “cool” to “awesome”.)

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  2. At the end of the semester, I started Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. It’s a lot like Origins, except it’s set in Ancient Greece, during the Peloponnesian War. It’s a lot of fun.

    The wife and I have been playing Diablo 3. We’ve started getting some good gear and can breeze through Torment IV. She plays a demon hunter and I’ve been using a necromancer.

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  3. I’ve been playing a lot of Oxygen Not Included lately. My current run is doing pretty well, as I hit on a strategy to stay small and go slow–make changes and let your dupes adjust to the new normal before moving on. But those sneaky bastiges as Klei anticipated people like me and have included hooks to force you to move forward: As your dupes get better at staying alive, their expectations go up. If your level of tech doesn’t keep pace with their expectations, their morale plumets and their stress goes up. So now I’m working on saving my dupes from themselves.

    I also picked up Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 on Steam for something like 8 bucks. I’ve got a Steam controller, but I’m thinking about picking up an XBox controller as those are better.

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