Video Games

Review: This simulator conjures up the right secrets

Cultist Simulator

Weather Factory

Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS


The occult world is basically unknown to most of us.

So, today we are going to use a video game, Cultist Simulator, as a tool to compare the outer perception and what is an occult life.

Let’s start with the game. Would you like to dig into the forbidden secrets of the occult, perhaps opening the door to alien gods and becoming a cannibal in the interim? This and more is what Cultist Simulator, created by Alexis Kennedy for Weather Factory, is via a card game format. And it has a lot to offer.

The game starts with the daily task of surviving. While you try to find enough material to read and study the dark arts that are hidden just beyond what we call reality.

Don’t be tricked. To survive is a difficult task here. You need to find a job that gives you enough money to pay for your food and the expensive books that are hidden in occult libraries. That can be sometimes an impossible mission. Well, most of the time. Fortunately, for those as lazy or frustrated by all the deeds as myself, there is an option to start where you have inherited a fortune and you don’t have to worry about money. That makes it so much easier.

Once you have managed to earn a steady income, it’s time to attract people to your cult so they can help you discover the keys to enlightenment or power.

As a game, Cultist Simulator is a well-written, delightful time. But what is most intriguing is it that shows the pop-cultural vision of what being an occultist is. Therefore some aspects of the game are pretty accurate.

I have bad news — or good news, depending on your wanting. There are real occultists, magicians and alchemists out there.

I WAS WORKING IN THE LAB: Being an occultist means you have to get a real job to help supplement your side hustle.

Culturally, our vision of occultists has been shaped by the Christian culture and the works of author H.P. Lovecraft. Those views place occultist practices in a difficult spot.

If you have read Lovecraft, he is a big influence on this game. There is something uncanny happening, and there is an evil person at the root of it all, who dwells in a realm that is not meant for humankind. As a result, people die and sometimes the occultist does too. And if you have watched horror movies, occultists are always behind a terrible evil that has been released on the earth. That’s the popular trope.

The question is if it is so bad to go into these secrets, why are there so many people interested in the occult? This indie game with a tiny budget of £30,000 pounds, raised via Kickstarter, has been able to sell more than 100,000 copies.

One of the interesting things about Cultist Simulator — and this comes with a shift in cultural perception — is that we are not seeing the occultist or cultist as it is called in this game, from outside. We are the one who is looking for the knowledge that will release us from this world. And that is something very attractive, even if we have to get rid of inspectors who poke their noses where they shouldn’t.

And that takes me to the next point. Who are the real occultists?

The good news is they don’t eat human flesh and conjure evil. Even Satanists think that Satan is just a virtual concept of rebellion and they are the good guys for showing the hypocrisy of society. So, none of them are or want to be evil. In fact, many try to be as positive as anyone else.

Bad news to some, they are all around us, but they are hidden. So, unless you are one of them, you would never imagine that your doctor, the magazine kiosk guy or the sweet teacher of your 5-year-old, dons a black robe in the evenings and invokes ancient gods.

They are hidden not because they are part of a conspiracy, but because most of the cultural items that are created about magicians make them the bad guys. And nobody likes to be painted in that shade when it’s time to do errands or meet with their girlfriend’s parents.

So, how do real occultists live? Well, many of them struggle with monetary issues, just like in the game.

Especially if they are alchemists because, in order to create and keep a laboratory, they need lots of money. Add to that the suspicion that a home lab can cause, and you can have an inspector knocking at your door thinking you are illegally manufacturing drugs.

It’s not easy to explain you are just looking for the Philosopher Stone.

Books, on the other hand, have become widespread. It is not so difficult these days to get them as in the game and become a magician. That is the reason the rate of practical magicians to practical alchemists must be of 20 to 1. These are not official statistics, merely observations. But still, to work with a book and be able to find its secrets is an important part of an occultist’s life today.

Fortunately, they don’t usually starve, because there is no lack of food in this modern world. The most important issue they have is the lack of time. Being an occultist is a solitary quest. You don’t have support from any organization to pursue it.

If you love sinking basketballs through a hoop, and you are good at it, you can get a grant from a university or join a team and dedicate your entire life to it.

If you want to discover the secrets of the universe, nobody will pay you for researching such important stuff, so you will have to get, just like in the game, a daily profession to pay the bills. That or a rich aunt who bequeaths her fortune to you. Mine, unfortunately, is too healthy and poor to accomplish that.

That is where the geniality of Cultist Simulator resides because the most difficult part for an occultist today is not to get into the secrets they have been longing to discover for so long.

LAND OF A THOUSAND TAROTS: Cards feature largely into the Cultist Simulator’s gameplay.

That is the reason that most of the training for magicians is a minimum of a half-hour of meditation and rituals, with some longer rituals that are made only from time to time. We need to make the best of our spare time.

Why do occultists do what they do? Not because they want to release evil on the earth. No. Most of them just want to touch the sacred aspect of the world, to be in contact with their sacred nature, using as tools the elements of meditation and rituals.

That, and make a positive effect on our world. This last part can be very enticing for young practitioners, but it becomes less and less interesting as you go deep into your own true nature and discover who you are and what the meaning of your life is. In this aspect, it becomes a spiritual journey into the unknown.

And how do I know this? Have you guessed it? Because… I am one of them.

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