Ever since I was a kid I have been a big fan of the tycoon genre. There is just something really satisfying about running a business/etc and trying to make it as successful as possible. With the number of tycoon games that I have played over the years, I have played tycoon games with a lot of different themes. I can confidently say that I have never played a tycoon game with the theme of today’s game though. Today I am taking a look at Honey, I Joined a Cult which basically applies the tycoon genre to running your very own cult. I never really thought that I wanted a cult themed tycoon game, but after playing Honey, I Joined a Cult I didn’t know what I was missing.
Honey, I Joined a Cult begins with your cult leader’s previous cult being raided by the government. As the government has no definitive proof that directly ties them to any crimes they are let go. Not content to let the easy money dry up you decide to start up a new cult. You will get to choose a bunch of different options for your cult including its name, what they worship, and even what your followers end up wearing. Your job is to create a successful cult that brings in new followers and money to fill the pockets of your cult leader.
While the theme is definitely different, for the most part Honey, I Joined a Cult is a tycoon/simulation game. While it is not exactly the same, in a way you are running a business. The ultimate objective of the game is to grow your number of followers, take their hard earned money for yourself, and eventually work towards an end goal for your cult.
In the game there are two types of members for your cult. First there are the full fledged members. These members basically act like employees except that you don’t pay them. Each have their own skills and weaknesses. They will gain experience working around your compound which you can use to upgrade specific skills. You can assign them tasks to perform around the compound such as performing maintenance, cooking food, or running one of your many buildings used to recruit additional members for your cult. Each of your cult members have their own basic needs though that you need to fulfill. If you don’t they may leave the cult or die. You start with very basic items for their necessities, but as you start researching you can unlock better equipment and facilities which will keep your members healthier and happier.
The other members of your cult are called “followers”. You begin the game with a couple of full blown cult members. They are far from enough to run a well functioning cult though. Thus you need to recruit new members. There are a number of buildings that you can create that help bring new members into your cult. These new members start as followers and you have to improve their faith/loyalty to the cult before they become full fledged members. To grow their loyalty to the cult you will build a number of buildings that feature various treatments/courses/etc. As followers spend time in these rooms their faith will grow providing the cult with various resources that are needed to grow, the most important being cold hard cash. To further expand your reach you can start to do PR missions in town which help raise your profile, but also start to attract the attention of the government. If your cult gets too much heat the government may shut down your cult ending your game.
So what is the ultimate goal of Honey, I Joined a Cult outside of creating a cult that keeps growing in membership and cash reserves? Eventually you will unlock the ability to set a theme/goal for your cult. At this point you can only choose darkness, but it gives you an objective that you must work towards achieving. How successful you are at achieving that objective will dictate how your game/cult will end.
While it clearly has its differences mostly due to the theme; Honey, I Joined a Cult does end up sharing a lot in common with your typical tycoon game. If you have ever played a game from this genre before you should already have a very good idea of what the game plays like. The objective is to create a well run cult which generates money allowing you to grow your cult even further. As you are running a cult instead of a business, this involves a few more steps then just putting out things that directly generate money for your business. Instead you need to use your members to recruit more members who will give you their money while they use your facilities. You also need to keep your cultists happy and healthy so they don’t die or leave. In a way the game actually reminded me a lot of Prison Architect except that you are brainwashing people instead of taking care of people who committed crimes.
I was intrigued by Honey, I Joined a Cult as I love the tycoon genre. I was a little curious about how the theme would work with the genre though. I can’t say that I ever really had a desire to run a cult, and yet I still really liked what I have played of the game so far. Like all good games from this genre, it succeeds at the things which make this genre so fun to play. It is fun creating a cult that slowly starts to grow and become more successive. The beginning of your cult starts off a little slow, but you eventually hit a point where things start to move quickly as your membership and income grows quickly. The game is easy to play as adding new buildings and objects is simple. Juggling between making your cultists happy and trying to maximize your money is challenging and keeps you interested while your cult grows in size. If you like tycoon games and think the cult theme sounds interesting, I would be surprised if you didn’t really enjoy the game.
At this point I wanted to quickly talk about the game’s theme of creating and running your own cult. First I wanted to say that cults are not something to be taken lighthearted. I do not in any way condone cults as most are really harmful to their members. I can totally see why some people might be turned off by the game’s theme and if this is the case the game may not be for you. I don’t think the game in any way condones cults though. I believe this because the game approaches the topic in such a silly way that in a way it ridicules them by allowing you to create the silliest cult imaginable. At least at this point the game doesn’t allow you to create a realistic cult, instead only letting you create a cult that worships silly/stupid things. The game approaches the topic with a lighthearted approach which is pretty much the only way I think the game could have worked.
This more lighthearted approach applies to the theme and aesthetics as well. The game is not meant to be taken too seriously as it uses more of a cartoony approach. The game’s art style actually reminds me a lot of Prison Architect and I liked it a lot. The game is trying to be silly and I think it succeeds for the most part. For example you begin the game with literally the very basics. Your bedrooms consist of mats on the floor and cardboard boxes for storage, and the bathrooms use literal buckets. Despite taking place in modern times your cult for some reason doesn’t have access to purchase beds, toilets, and other necessities from the local stores unless they “research” the ability to. The game doesn’t take itself seriously and you shouldn’t as well.
With all my previews of games that just entered Early Access I like to talk about the game’s current state. For tycoon games in particular this can be kind of important as you need a lot of the mechanics already in place to make the game enjoyable while additional content is added along the edges. For a game that doesn’t have an intended date for leaving Early Access yet, I was genuinely impressed with the state of Honey, I Joined a Cult. As a whole it is hard to tell that the game is still in development. All of the main mechanics seem to be in place as you can run your cult without many limitations. The game is already quite a bit more polished than I expected. You can already get quite a few hours out of the game building your cult from the ground up.
Honestly at this point the game mostly feels like it is in Early Access for more content to get added around the edges. The missing elements don’t really impact your enjoyment of the game. Mostly they should just add more to the experience. For example right now you can only choose the darkness theme for your cult. Basically you can only lead your cult towards more nefarious ends. The game is planning on adding additional themes which will allow you to chart a different course for your cult. Otherwise the game seems to be adding additional rooms, characters, and objects. This should mostly just give you more that you can do in the game. While the game is already fully playable and quite enjoyable, I can’t wait to see where it eventually ends up.
Before playing Honey, I Joined a Cult I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I have always enjoyed tycoon games and you have to give the game credit for trying something new with making a game about building a cult. Despite having pretty high expectations for the game, I was still genuinely surprised by the game. For a game that just entered Early Access, outside of a lack of content in a few areas you wouldn’t even know that the game wasn’t already finished. The game is kind of interesting as it plays a lot like your typical tycoon game and yet it feels different as well. I found the gameplay to be quite fun. I never expected to want to make a cult in a video game, and yet it is quite compelling. The gameplay is pretty easy to pick up, and yet it gives players quite a few options. I will say that the cult theme may be off-putting for some players, but the game approaches it in a silly way that works well for the game in my opinion. Ultimately the game could use a little more content in a few areas, but I am already really enjoying the game and want to see where it ends up.
If you generally don’t care for the tycoon genre or don’t like the cult theme; Honey, I Joined a Cult may not be for you. If the theme interests you at all though and you generally enjoy tycoon games, I would highly recommend looking into picking up Honey, I Joined a Cult.
Buy Honey, I Joined a Cult online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Sole Survivor Games and Team17 for the review copy of Honey, I Joined a Cult used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.