First-person Shooters have changed a lot over the course of gaming history. Movement has become smoother and there are more flashy effects that cover the screen as players move from one point to the next, taking out enemies with a multitude of weapons. While it’s nice to enjoy some of the more modern aspects of the FPS genre, Cultic is here to show us that the classic look and feel of games like Blood can still be enjoyable.
When I first booted up the game, there was a slight concern about how long I would be able to sit down for each session. The game is very fast-paced when things get going, and mixing this with all sorts of camera movement usually results in motion sickness on my end, but it feels good to say that this game takes that into consideration. The accessibility section of the game allows for adjustments to both screen shake and tilt during gameplay, which made this experience a lot more enjoyable. As someone who struggles with FPS games, seeing these options available made me even more excited to jump into this bloody adventure.
The game really pulls heavily from its inspirations and throws you right into the game with barely any information. The intro cutscene talks about kidnappings and missing person cases, but little more than that. . Our lead is the classic mute protagonist, so all of our story moving forward is found in various news clippings that serve as pickups throughout the game.
Our main character is out to tackle a cult who is responsible for the disappearances and demonic presences, with horrifying creatures making appearances as extra challenges in the already hectic combat segments. The game is dripping with a dark and creepy atmosphere, one that adds to the sinister vibes of its opening. . There were moments where I was trying to find my way through a dimly lit cavern just to be startled by the moans of a monster and the surprise of an axe-wielding cultist. The music enhances these moments with creepy tunes playing in the background.
While the story has a more quiet approach, the gameplay itself is upfront and action packed right from the start. We see our main character crawl out of a graveyard and begin taking down the cult members without hesitation. At first, you are given an axe to dispatch enemies with, but your arsenal expands to include ranged options like a sawed off shotgun or a hunting rifle for long distance enemies. Ammo always seems to be on the lower end due to the amount of ammunition needed to handle the groups thrown at you, but thankfully, it seems like the main character has a degree in TNT! . Equipped with dynamite that you can toss into crowds to both help conserve ammo and manage numbers while getting the job done.
Enemies explode and heads pop with carefully placed shots, so the action feels fast-paced and visceral, never slowing down for a moment.
One of the most satisfying feelings is when the world slows down when you land a headshot, this mechanic giving extra time to line up for the next target. Nothing beats slowing time and switching weapons, throwing an axe to take out enemies, so to then turn and take out the chainsaw guy charging at me from the backlines. Combat never feels stale, and each encounter had me looking for the most efficient and entertaining way I could think up to take out my enemies using the tools I had gathered at that time.
The game is broken up into huge levels and once you reach the end, there is a score that shows things such as how many enemies were killed or how many secrets were found. Each of these stages is packed with missable secrets to seek out. Finishing a run and seeing missed secrets on my initial playthrough drove me to revisit the game again and again. . Along with secret notes and weapon caches filled with supplies, Cultic also includes a weapon upgrade system. During each run, you can find weapon parts that are used to upgrade your arsenal. These are usually tucked away in dark corners and protected by a group of enemies. When you find and collect them, they are used to upgrade the power of individual weapons or their magazine size. Since the parts aren’t gun specific, you are able to upgrade any of the weapons you find. I focused heavily on the pistol upgrade path since I spent the most time with it, but once I got a hold of the rifle, I made that my main focus for upgrades. The upgrades can’t be reversed, so it is important to make thoughtful decisions. The gameplay kept me glued to my screen and made it hard for me to put down.
This is a game that grabs your attention with tension filled combat and creepy hallways to explore, but the downside is that it was often easy to lose your direction, points where I felt like it wasn’t enough at pointing me to where I needed to be going. I spent close to ten minutes running around a map I felt I had cleared in search for the next location, only to realize I missed a key that I hadn’t seen on a crate. It would have been helpful if the important Items had a brighter shine or something to help make them stand out more in the world. Or an option to activate beacons in the accessibility options to aid those who have trouble seeing these aspects. In the mess that follows clearing a room full of enemies, small items can easily become lost. In dark areas, this isn’t as much of a problem, but once you are in a well lit area, it becomes harder to see where these things are supposed to be. The only other minor gripe I had was a lack of a mini map or a compass on screen. Since the levels are filled with twists and turns, it would have been nice to have a small map in a corner of the screen to help combat these issues with disorientation and to keep track of where I was heading.
Cultic is definitely a blast to play from start to finish, and I’m excited to see more with the planned chapter 2 DLC. It’s hard to tell if I am excited to see where the story goes or if I just want more of this brutal combat, but either way, the first chapter has done a great job of capturing my interest. This is one of those games I can definitely see myself recommending to friends who have been craving some classic FPS action.
- Fast-paced combat and a variety of enemies keeps the game from going stale
- Creepy atmospheres blend well with the creepy story being told
- The accessibility options make the game playable for those who might struggle with heavy camera movements.
- A mini map or compass would really help with navigating some of the bigger areas. This could even have been a pickup so that it didn't take away from the exploration.
- Some items are harder to spot in darker areas, and it is hard to tell what is important or not without picking it up. Making key items a shine brighter or glow a different color would help prevent unnecessary confusion.
Xavier grew up playing classics like Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, and Silent Hill, so the indie scene has been full of love letters for him.
A perfect day for him includes hours of grinding out levels and exploring creepy hallways in scary games.