It’s Halloween time again, the perfect occasion for a spooky game to play. What’s more terrifying than how easily people can be converted to join cults! I was quite surprised to hear how Honey, I Joined a Cult was now available in early access as I first saw the game and chatted to one of the developers at my first EGX (read about that here) and it looked almost ready for early access then. It turns out that was an early Alpha build and the game was a ways from release. Now Honey, I Joined a Cult is out on early access it’s to hunker down and make a cult of worshipers to make the faith and money flow!
Right from the start Honey, I Joined a Cult has you creating your cult’s identity. The customisation and tinkering is open in a lot of ways but limited with the items you start with. You’ll be unlocking more in-game but what you start with is enough to give you a personalised group to work from. If you’ve ever played another management strategy simulation type game you’ll know what you’re in for. You’ll be building a complex for your followers and preacher to expand, develop and profit from the cult. The tutorial does a good job of explaining how the basics work but you’ll quickly be wiping that and starting on a blank slate to figure out what works best for you and your cult.
There are strong Prison Architect vibes with Honey, I Joined a Cult in the way the people float around the map and interact with objects but what sets Honey, I Joined a Cult apart is the focus on its people. You won’t simply be caring for the cultists basic sleep, food, hygiene and fun but you’ll need to make sure people are assigned roles that have tasks to complete and are scheduled to overlap important jobs with other cultists. If you’ve ever worked retail before the scheduling for your cultists in Honey, I Joined a Cult will look disturbingly familiar. This focus on people lends itself to a different management experience where you’ll pick favourites, rename them and focus on levelling them up. Then there will be a few people who can’t understand they need to wash their hands before eating, get sick often and you can’t get rid of to replace with new followers fast enough.
Honey, I Joined a Cult has a lot more under the hood than it first appears. As you play you’ll unlock external missions that you can send cultists on and this has its own set of rewards from items to resources (resulting in more followers) The trade off comes from leaving you a cultist down for a large chunk of time and that cultist’s work will still needing doing. With a busy daily schedule you’ll be aiming for a positive end to every day and when the bell tolls and the sermon commences you’ll be making sure cultists are back at base to boost their faith. If you don’t manage their faith accordingly they’ll leave due realising the cheap squalor they endure for the good of the whole. Each sermon gives you a good indicator of how you’ll be doing overall and it creates a nice looping flow to the daily gameplay.
There are some janky moments but there’s no game breaking issues and a lot of the little quirks can be excused due to the early access nature. There are moments where a cultist will stand around because they have no immediate task to do and if you have multiple rooms assigned you’ll need to make sure you prioritise specific roles. Some of the text or rooms can be a little clunky but these are minor bumps and there’s an impressive level of polish for a game that’s at this level of complete. When you start to reach the end of the research tree you’ll realise a lot of the experience is one you make for yourself. The cult could be called Polybius or Misadventure it won’t make any different to anyone but you and all the rooms and themes are more in the description than in the aesthetics.
The thing is Honey, I Joined a Cult is visually really nice. Everything is clear and easy to read and understand. Almost everything has extra text if you hover over it for a more detailed explanation and there’s a charm to the presentation that follows regardless of the cult you create. The sounds and music of Honey, I Joined a Cult are uncannily reminiscent to Theme Park and Theme Hospital. Regardless of how well you manage your cultists until you get to the end game you’ll have people peeing and pooing outside of a bathroom despite your best efforts and the sounds are impressively non-intrusive. Music can loop for hours without becoming frustrating and it’s that really nice balance between melodic melodies to passively enjoyable.
Despite being in early access (at the time of writing) Honey, I Joined a Cult is packed with stuff to do. The appeal starts in seeing your cult evolve from humble beginnings but the long lasting need to keep playing comes from getting your cult into a state where everything is running to an optimised state. Honey, I Joined a Cult is less Prison Architect and more Satisfactory. You’ll be keeping tabs on money, faith, influence and heat all to slowly research your way and improve the complex. Quickly building and turning it around to optimise every new addition as it comes. The gameplay loop of making sure everything is ticking over nicely is incredibly chill and the bumps along the way when heat gets too high and protests occur are nice challenges to get you to go back and optimise further.
It’s the strangest thing to be enjoying and playing a management game of something that in real life can be so horrific and terrifying. There’s something strangely cathartic playing these kind of parody simulator games where the real life subject matter is just the absolute worst. You’ll create your puppets, make your boxes to play in and let them act out their horror with a smile at the cutely ridiculousness of the scene and that’s absolutely fine. Honey, I Joined a Cult has a lot of potential with the early access moniker allowing for a lot more tinkering and additions as it progresses but at the time of writing you have a really enjoyable management game that just needs a little more in every box to get to greatness. It’s impressively close to being Theme Cult and given it’s only at the start there’s a real chance that could be the case.
7/10 – Why join a cult when you can have this honey instead?
Review Code provided by Team 17 check them out here
Honey, I Joined a Cult is available in early access on steam here!
Check out some gameplay over here on the ElderlyGoose YouTube channel!