GUEST POST – Cultist Simulator: A Field Report (Part 2)featured

[An alpha tester by the name of paraTactician sent me this account of his experiences with Cultist Simulator. I enjoyed it, and it gives a  good sense of the bones of the game. Over to them!

Last time: paraTactician fell into peril, and resolved to save himself with the life of the mind.]

…I pick up An Injury from work. Balls. I don’t have any Funds spare; this is all going a bit I, Daniel Blake.

I decide to find work with my Reason, which is currently sitting there doing bugger all, and conserve my one remaining Health. I can Dream of my Injury and hope to recover – but no, that needs Funds too. Why does everything need Fu – oh I see

There follows an unpleasant interval in which I become quite stressed: my work clock producing Funds is staggered about 1.5 seconds before my time clock consuming Funds, so if I tap the space bar too late and lose two seconds I’m fucked; my Injury is sitting there untreated; my Contentment arrives and fades with my dreams, never leaving me any better off; and Morland’s Bookshop, clearly my gateway to arcane knowledge, remains cool and distant at the bottom right of the screen. I can still talk to Dorothy, which produces either Mystique or Notoriety, but both Mystique and Notoriety are timed cards and soon go the way of Contentment, drifting away like autumn leaves something something Vallombrosa. I’ve set up two reliable resource generators, but I can’t work out how to use the resources they generate, and I can’t generate the only resource that actually seems to help. I don’t even have a nice reassuring stack of Mystique cards building up in a reservoir somewhere.

I pour my Reason into my work because I don’t have anything else to do with it. I keep Talking to Dorothy, because at least it doesn’t cost me anything. I cannot Dream of Dorothy.

Then I get a promotion! And, more importantly, three Funds! I am wild with joy. I’m not sure I was this happy when I got my actual job. I immediately stick one Funds (Fund?) into my Dreams along with my Injury, and I’m about to lob a second one merrily over the counter at Morland’s when I pause. My Work clock now takes considerably longer to clear than my Time clock. In 55 seconds, I’ll need to burn Funds. In another 60 seconds, I’ll need to burn another Funds, and I still won’t have finished Work. So my higher pay is still only just enough to keep me alive, and I still can’t actually afford to buy a book.

This is the only really frustrating moment of the game, and for a wobbly moment I contemplate giving up. There’s something tremendously dispiriting about thinking you’ve made progress and then doing the maths and realising you haven’t. I’m an easy sell on games about forbidden lore, but this is turning into a game about barely being able to pay the bills, which is a fine thing for a game to be about but not an experience I seek out in my spare time. It’s the same petulant ‘I know it’s true but it’s not fun’ reaction I sometimes have to combat games where getting hit once is fatal, or exploration games where you can’t enter the spooky ruin because you didn’t buy enough food in the previous town and you might starve. I wonder glumly if I’ll unlock the Buy A House token, but because I suffer the Oxford affliction it’ll require more Funds than I can ever mathematically possess, so it’ll just sit there reproaching me like in real life.

EDGE

But: mama didn’t raise no quitters. I push on. The next time I get paid, I hopefully won’t have an Injury to deal with, so I should be able to spend that Funds (those Funds? this is really causing me problems) on books instead. It works: another three Fundses roll in from Glover & Glover, I put aside two for expenses and with trembling hand drop the third into Morland’s cash register. I’m genuinely very excited to see what I’ll get. I’m hoping for the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan, or at least something with rude engravings –

[Next time: paraTactician encounters an enemy from the past]

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