Review: Cultist Simulator’s mobile port sacrifices unbelievers but not quality

by Ash
March 28, 2019

Reviewed on iOS – specifically an iPhone 8 Plus running iOS 12.1.4.

Cultist Simulator is a game where, much like the title implies, you must try your best to establish a cult. It’s not an easy game, unless you happen to be already skilled in the art of starting religious sects, but it is a fun one, and the game’s mobile port now makes it even easier to become a god of your own making while on the go.

In Cultist Simulator, you have to use cards to do things like dream of long-forgotten gods, research forbidden knowledge, and occasionally find ways to dispose of a human corpse or two. You really don’t want corpses to build up in your inventory. You also need to keep an eye on your health and how much money you have. A healthy and well-financed cult is a happy one!

Thanks to the mobile version of the game, I’m now capable of summoning old gods while waiting in line for coffee and imprisoning false believers while on the bus. While all mobile ports run the risk of sacrificing critical features for easier mobile gameplay, I’m pleased to say that Cultist Simulator avoids this. The UI has been carefully redesigned to maintain all of its crucial features, such as how many particular cards you have and the pause/play buttons, while giving you more space to look at the game board.

It’s also pretty great for accessibility – high contrast mode allows you to make text bolder and you can zoom in and out at your leisure. The graphics also remain wonderfully crisp and clear. I played both the mobile version and the PC version at the same time (would not recommend – trying to establish one cult at a time is difficult enough) and didn’t notice any loss of quality in the graphics or sound.

Another positive feature of the mobile port is that Cultist Simulator really doesn’t drain your phone battery. Possibly because it’s sustained by your life force instead (that was a joke) (maybe) (praise be to Cultist Simulator!). Dipping into the game for 10 minutes while in line for coffee didn’t even register in my battery usage. I played the game for just over an hour on a bus journey and only lost around 10% battery. The game also doesn’t require an internet connection, meaning you can save your mobile data and have uninterrupted play in places with poor signal. It’s the perfect game for long journeys.

In terms of plot, Cultist Simulator never disappoints. Even when undertaking the safest route of working hard and keeping my head down, the mundane felt extraordinary. Probably because the game made me kill my own boss. There’s many roads for you to head down and various ways to finish the game. You can get a game over just by getting promoted enough in a certain line of work, although the game does note that a safe and secure life isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cultist Simulator can be played over and over, and you’ll never play the same game twice.

However, Cultist Simulator can be quite difficult at times. There’s lots of different ways to establish a cult, whether it’s through brute force or extreme charisma or just by asking nicely, and there’s lots of different ways to also potentially die. I discovered that it’s far easier to establish a cult just by asking nicely on Twitter. You just need to stick at it and try new things each time. Think outside the box. Like, really outside the box.

(Side note: Applications to join my cult are still open. Join us.)

One of the few downfalls of the game is that when you’re deep into a game and your entire board is covered with cards, it can become quite tricky to work out both what and where everything is. This is where you should utilise the pause feature, allowing you to stop and peruse cards at your leisure, but the overwhelming quantity of cards on a mobile screen can sometimes cause you to miss important or quick-moving events.

One solution to this problem is to just constantly pause and reorganise your cards into relevant sections. Alternatively, you can choose to just embrace the chaos, and hope that your disorganised approach will bear fruit. Sometimes, it will.

I will say that, for those who haven’t played the desktop version or who haven’t had any prior experience with the works of Alexis Kennedy, the game may seem deeply eerie at first. Don’t let this put you off. The language used in-game will soon become second nature to you. You might just have to die a few times to get there.

Overall, Cultist Simulator’s mobile port is a shining example of how to port a game without sacrificing what makes it so great. It’s unique, lovely, and bizarre and it’s never the same experience twice. I can’t recommend it enough, and with a price tag of just $6.99 it’s an incredibly worthy addition to your phone’s app lineup. Just make sure that you have enough patience to try starting a cult.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some entirely not-suspicious human-corpse-shaped business to take care of.

Cultist Simulator is already out on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s due out on mobile on April 2nd and you can pre-register on Android here for a launch price of $4.99 instead of $6.99.

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