So, You Want to Start a Cult?
Imagine you’ve been out of work for months, and the bills are nearly due. Your wife wants you to get a job. But why get a mundane job when you could start a cult instead? Cult Manager Tycoon by CheapShotGames lets players build their own cult from the ground up. Recruit members and keep them hanging on your every word in this 2D cult simulator.
Running a successful cult boils down to recruiting the malleable masses. After all, what is a cult leader without his or her followers? Thus, much of Cult Manager Tycoon’s gameplay revolves around preaching to or “proselytizing” potential members. You begin each round by choosing an environment in which to propagandize new worshippers.
Starting out, you’ll only be able to recruit angry drifters from the Disused Railway Yard. However, as your income and following grow, you’ll unlock new locales such as a UFO convention or the farmers market, which allows you to recruit conspiracy theorists and hippies, respectively. While each location varies aesthetically, the gameplay remains monotonously the same. To engage these potential followers, you’ll need to drag the correct symbol from the bottom of the screen on top of the recruit. Angry drifters will listen if you offer them a beer, while hippies are only interested if you give them a peace sign. Each symbol costs a specific amount of mojo, the game’s currency. Beer bottles cost one mojo and peace signs cost five. While running a cult is an exciting premise, proselytizing members quickly becomes tedious, especially since there’s no real challenge to it. The number of people who actually join your cult depends on the effectiveness of your revelation.
Revels and Revelations
Once you’ve engaged some potential members, you must choose a holiday to celebrate and begin working on your revelation. Different holidays appeal to different demographics of followers, as do different revelations. Outraged Link-Sharing Day appeals to shrill activists and hippies while Galactic Independence Day attracts angry drifters and conspiracy theorists. While each holiday has an entertaining name, each one plays out the same. You’ll likely find yourself selecting a holiday without even reading the options because it really makes no difference.
For each holiday you will need to choose two revelations. Each group of members prefers revelations that go along with their lifestyle. For example, selecting the revelation “Scream at yonder people for they are demons” appeals to the angry drifters but does nothing for the conspiracy theorists. I’ll admit the revelations are humorous and probably the most entertaining part of the game. However, there’s a set number of possible revelations, and you’ll soon grow tired of the choice between the same jokey lines.
The holiday you choose to celebrate dictates how many days you have to complete your revelation. The higher the percentage your revelation reaches by day zero, the more recruits will join your cult. Since you are limited to two revelations per holiday, you won’t be able to make all of your followers happy at the same time.
The Needs of The Many
Balancing the needs of your diverse cult members is the most challenging aspect of Cult Manager Tycoon. Unfortunately, it’s still not challenging enough to offer much entertainment. When a group of followers is happy with your teachings, their status is rabid. If their status drops to tepid, some of your followers will leave the cult. While this might sound like a challenge, it’s easy enough to keep everyone complacent by varying which demographic you appeal to. Even if some of your followers become discontent and leave, it doesn’t feel like a big loss. You’ll likely recruit more than double those you lost in the next round.
You spend most of your time waiting for your little cult leader to write his revelation so he can go out and recruit more members. The gameplay is circular that way and rather unrewarding. Members will often interrupt you to complain while you’re writing your revelation. These members are known as distractions. When distracted, revelation progress halts. To temporarily clear the room of distractions, purchase fumigation under the tech menu. The first time you fumigate the building is highly entertaining, but as the animation doesn’t vary, it quickly loses its appeal. You can also hire a few members of your cult as hosts, who will deal with some of the many distractions.
Ultimately, Cult Manager Tycoon is a game with a great premise but that has unfortunately been poorly executed. Sure, it’s got a few funny lines, and fumigating your compound to clear distractions is a hilarious concept. However, the gameplay quickly becomes monotonous, and you’ll soon find this game to be more of a chore than a source of entertainment. Unlike an actual cult, Cult Manager Tycoon just doesn’t manage to suck you in.
Though the revelations and dialogue can be comedic at times, Cult Manager Tycoon is a tedious experience best overlooked.