Sunless Sea creative director launches first solo Kickstarter


Card Cultist Simulator

Sunless Sea and its predecessor Fallen London were very niche games that fit right into all my little nooks and crannies so nicely. The world was creepy, the writing dark but humorous, and most of all for me it was immensely original. So when Failbetter announced their next game would be Sunless Sea in spaaaaaaaaccccccceeeee I felt that they played it a bit too safe.

I wanted to see something new, some new world to dig my bloodied teeth into as the cries of a thousand years of pain echoed off the walls. Then as if it were a beast that heard the magical incantations recited three times, Cultist Simulator reared its head after nearly a year of slumber in the form of a new Kickstarter.

Cultist Simulator started as a pet project of former founder and creative director of Failbetter Games Alexis Kennedy. Kennedy who has since left the company recently worked on the writing for the Stellaris DLC "Horizon Signal" as well as an upcoming Dragon Age and unannounced Telltale game. Prior to leaving to work on these games for the better part of the last year he released an alpha build of Cultist Simulator which plays like a card game that had a bastard child with a role playing game.

The general gameplay is that you are given resources and different methods of how to use those resources. In the early build of the alpha that I played you started off with some funds, some reason, your passion, and your health. You can find work putting your reason, passion or health up as cost and from there you are given more resources that you combine in different way to further drive the story along. For example, when I used my passion for work I was able to sell one of my paintings to a new customer. The transaction gave me the new customer as a contact, some more funds, a mysterious package, and a sense of contentment. Yes I got one sense of contentment. A sense of contentment that went away when I transferred over to a more menial task using my reason to make money. How like life eh?

Cultist Simulator takes place in a new universe that is similar to our 1920's era. In this world, though there are gods called Hours. Hours are similar to that of the mythological gods of the past with each of them having their own personality with which you interact with in your dreams. Some of the Hours are nice while the others would like nothing more than destroy all of humanity. To combat this, humans have different organizations set up to combat rampant contact with the Hours, so every encounter you have with the Hours puts you at risk to be found by the authorities.

Kennedy describes the world as Cthulu Mythos with "less cosmic nihilism than Lovecraft, and more perilous longing." Seeing as how the universe of Fallen London and Sunless Sea were the biggest selling points to me, a new universe has me excited in ways I can't describe. Kennedy also says "Unlike my previous work, Cultist Simulator may not feature cannibalism. It will however absolutely feature the ability to fling your sanity into your Great Work like coins into a well; and to destroy the world."

Just shut up and take my money already, please!

So how do you win a game that deals with concepts such as contentment or passion in quantifiable means? Like Sunless Sea there will be multiple paths to victory, if you can call the destruction of the entire world victory. The Kickstarter lists the canon means of victory to be ascension where you rise to the level of the Hours, enlightenment where you learn their secrets, or destruction where you destroy the world and everyone in it. There are other paths to victory but for now outside of retirement and death they remain a mystery.

While very barebones the alpha showed a lot of promise in a unique take on both the card game and crafting genre while still retaining the cold wind on your neck feel of the Fallen London universe games. Some of the combinations didn't work in the proof of concept but you can tell that the systems are in place and just waiting to be used. You can play the alpha right now for free to get a feel for what the game is like.

Kennedy has stated that he is the only one working full time on the game, but he is aided by a team of freelancers that will handle the art and UI. This game will also mark the reunion of Kennedy and Sunless Sea music composer Maribeth Solomon.

Overall it looks like a solid attempt to create something new from the creator of what I consider to be one of the best crafted game worlds in recent years. The Kickstarter runs from today through October 1st and is already 75% of the way funded as of the writing of this article so this is well on its way to being funded. The basic 10£ pledge level gets you the game through every iteration in pre-release as well as any expansions that may come out for it. Kennedy hopes to have the game out by May of next year but is very candid about the fact that he is prone to bouts of depression and child care, as well as the tenuous nature of working with freelancers that may hinder his schedule.

Cultist Simulator [Kickstarter]

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Anthony Marzano
Anthony MarzanoContributor   gamer profile

Cblog recapper, writer for Flixist and Lover of all things strategic and can you find me on the internet? Twitch: more + disclosures



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