Who’d have thought the amount of work involved in a cult? Out now in Early Access, Sole Survivor Games and Team17’s simulation title Honey, I Joined A Cult is eye-opening. I thought all you had to do was lace the Kool-Aid or get a certain amount of followers on Instagram worshipping your fake pin-up lifestyle, and the rest of it would fall into place. How naive.
There’s a lot of work involved. First off, you need to create your cult. Who/what shall you worship? What’s the dress code? What will your followers be called? The customisation option was a bad omen as I spent the first 30 minutes coming up with new religions based on the accessories you could wear. A quick logo change, and I was starting again.
I eventually settled with Baba Yogi, a.k.a. Jonathan Wycke and created the cult, or family, Breaths of Keanu. About 20 minutes into the game, a notification popped up saying you could re-brand your cult at any time, so Church of Godzilla it was. Yeah… customisations are pretty fun, so if you have a weakness to it or are a little indecisive, expect to spend some time dicking around with the settings.
Honey, I Joined A Cult Early Access
But that element is cosmetic only – the bread and butter of running your own busin- cult in Honey, I Joined A Cult is establishing a sanctuary for your followers. This allows them to recruit new members, spread the word, making a tidy profit too by rinsing them of their fortunes with false promises and PR campaigns. Ah, art imitating life…
After a quick introduction, it transpires that your fearless leader was running a pretty lucrative cult before, but it drew far too much heat (which comes back to haunt you) and was shut down by the authorities. With them unable to pin any wrongdoings on you, you’re free to start again, already owning the land to begin afresh. It’s from here that you build the literal foundations and create a thriving community that falls at your knees. Well, not quite.
Gullible as they may be, your followers and recruits still have basic needs; sleeping quarters, toilets and showers, food and drink, plus overall happiness. You start by constructing the buildings made of various materials, all available from the outset, all at the same price. It’s possible to separate each building with additional walls, cramming items (and people) into tight spaces to save money at the risk of prestige.
The quality of a room is measured by prestige – that is, ensure that the room is adequately spacious, has decor that lightens the mood, and regular maintenance takes place in the facilities. If these basic needs aren’t met, followers can get injured, disheartened (mood breaks), leave the compound, or even die. To ensure everything’s run tippety-top in Honey, I Joined A Cult, you need to run everything like clockwork by assigning roles for the best bodies, plus researching new structures and positions as you go along.
Honey, I Joined A Cult is currently in Early Access, but it doesn’t feel like it. There’s plenty to keep you occupied – that could be the broken toilets, disgruntled recruits not having their needs met, or simply not earning enough money or faith to operate. While money is made by completing PR missions, or within the ‘therapy rooms’ that take money through membership and what-not, your cult leader’s primary role is to perform sermons. These daily events will help grow investable faith, plus increase your influence, possibly expanding the compound and developing new research. Just be wary of that heat – unwanted attention should you grow too big too soon.
Existing members will begin their duties automatically, or if you view the recruit’s stats, you can prioritise their roles. In the early days, it’s essential to research the maintenance room and have someone go around the compound cleaning up as followers squat where they are and pump out a Cleveland Steamer in the middle of a room, thus affecting the prestige of a room and the mood. They also break the toilets quite often, regardless if you upgrade them. There’s a joke tucked in here somewhere.
Follow Me, Follow Me, Follow Me
Additionally, you’ll want a lobby to greet potential followers, a recruitment office and send out your best members on missions to level up their stats (that affect their performance in certain rooms), invest in those who run your therapy rooms to rinse your customers but keep them happy enough to convert them to your group. Again, selecting an individual, you can view stats and recruit them if you have the capacity. If you’re restricted on how many people you can acquire, you’ll need to research your follower cap.
Of course, while this is all going on, it’s crucial to ensure your leader is up-to-speed with things too, creating them their own little sanctuary to operate out of, then flirting with the sermons and manipulating anyone foolish enough to attend. As mentioned, despite this being the Honey, I Joined A Cult Early Access version, it’s pretty polished (save for a few followers walking through assets). It didn’t take long to get absorbed in running a cult, thanks to the plethora of structures, research and missions to take part in, plus the sharp and effective visuals.
Cult-like activities get a bad rap, but when you’re on the other side of the fence, it’s pretty enlightening, homely, and you can make a decent buck, too. In Early Access, this is one I recommend if you like management sims with a sense of humour and, paradoxically, free will. Despite the themes, this isn’t a throwaway parody and is chockful of plenty to do that you may end up joining a cult. In the game, I hasten to add.