Honey I Joined A Cult is a management sim in the same vein as Prison Architect, taking a refreshingly silly approach to establishing and maintaining your very own, uh, alternative belief system. It’s now out in Early Access, enabling would-be cult leaders everywhere to profit from the weak-willed and desperate!
My early impression is that this is still very barebones as a concept. There’s currently just the one theme available to build your cult around – “Darkness” – and the UI needs some serious sharpening. Players familiar with builders like this (Prison Architect, Academia: School Simulator) will instantly feel at home, though. Building and assigning rooms is as easy as clicking and dragging, although you can add your own personal spin with different types of doors, foundations and decor items.
The whole thing is steeped in a funky 70’s aesthetic, although this can result in the game’s colour schemes looking a bit like the wallpaper at your grandmother’s house sometimes. Watching your base go from a few shacks filled with poop buckets and dirty mattresses to a heaving hive of activity is really satisfying though. You can sit back and watch all the various “therapies” and “relaxation” sessions go ahead, steadily parting your followers from their money. You can send followers out of your compound to complete missions for rewards and research new technologies – it’s all standard stuff for the genre, but Honey I Joined A Cult has a fairly entertaining theme to keep it fresh.
There’s already a fair few ways to customise your cult, but none of them really change much because we’re still restricted to the one central theme. I wanted to start a cult of money-hungry yoga enthusiasts determined to enlighten everyone’s wallets, but in reality they’d operate no differently from the bog standard spooky space monster cult. I really hope they diversify both the cosmetic and operating styles of the cults as development continues, because right now it does feel kinda shallow.
Whilst Honey I Joined A Cult does a pretty superb job of implanting the genre with all the mechanics it needs to simulate running a cult, the visuals are just a little too basic. Nothing has any real polish to it – it’s all mostly functional, sure, but at the minute it looks kinda crude, like a half-baked imitation of the Prison Architect style. It’s a real shame that Honey I Joined A Cult doesn’t work any harder to separate itself from the obvious inspiration visually.
I don’t really want to sit in my lofty critic’s chair and critique the art style of a game I certainly couldn’t make myself – this is a really small dev team, and they’re doing their best to make the game work and look functional at the same time. Honey I Joined A Cult just looks a bit rough, to be totally honest. The UI is blurry and pixellated, which kinda works in combination with some of the early access lag to make navigating the menus a chore. Actually designating rooms and placing objects is fairly breezy, but the menus look like stacks of clip art.
If you’re completely new to the genre and just fancy a bit of casual cult-starting, Honey I Joined A Cult is pretty welcoming. The tutorial is in-depth, and walks you through establishing your first cult step by step without bombarding you with information. The writing leaves a little to be desired – they’re clearly going for kooky, offbeat humour but it doesn’t really land a lot of the time.
Honey I Joined A Cult Early Access – Is it worth it?
This is a tough one, because there’s already plenty of Honey I Joined A Cult to play, but not a whole host of different ways in which to do it yet. I don’t really think the game is showing its best side yet, and unless you’re particularly desperate to play Prison Architect if it was made by Charles Manson, you’re not going to have the best experience with it just yet. I have faith that developers Sole Survivor Games can shape this into a really decent base builder over time.
If you’re looking for your next genre fix, Honey I Joined A Cult could well be it – maybe just not right this minute.