A Retro Inspired Odyssey Into a Nightmare
If you’ve been a fan of my reviews then you know all too well what a sucker I am for old-school style shooters. I grew up playing shooters like Doom II and Duke Nukem 3D back in the day. So when a game comes along that attempts to recreate that experience, it will definitely get my attention. Cultic: Chapter One is one such game that elegantly encapsulates this experience.
Cultic: Chapter One is a retro inspired first-person shooter that pits players against a mysterious cult and the unholy demons they have unleashed. It hits all the right marks when it comes to bringing that old-school experience to life while also embracing the lessons learned in the last 30 years.
A Tale of Evil
Set in the late 60’s, players take on the role of a detective investigating a series of gruesome murders a treacherous cult. The game begins with you awakening from a mass grave behind an abandoned factory. From that point on, it’s up to you to battle the cult and stop whatever evil they are trying to unleash.
Cultic: Chapter One wants to be a homage to B-Films of the 70’s and shooters from the 90’s. It succeeds at doing both from a narrative perspective. The story is simple and while there are texts that add to the eeriness, you are mostly going to be focused on the shooting. That said, you don’t want to overlook the lore of this game.
Rise Up and Fight Back
Cultic: Chapter One wants to capture the essence of what made shooters from the mid 90’s so memorable. From a visual perspective, it has succeeded at this with the retro-inspired graphics. The visuals strike the ideal balance of being detailed while also not being so demanding of your GPU. It doesn’t hold back on the details while understanding the limitations of 90’s hardware.
This attempt to capture that nostalgia is not limited to the visual details. It also encapsulates this idea through its simple but fun gameplay.
There is nothing fancy or innovative about the gameplay mechanics. This is a first-person shooter and all you do is shoot the waves of cultists and demons you encounter. At the same time, the combat is also satisfyingly gory. The arsenal at your disposal is the genre traditions. Players could also upgrade their weapons throughout the game (based on their preferred weapon and combat style). I should also add that while it embraces the classic gameplay, it also understands a lot has changed regarding quality.
Cultic may have all the hallmarks of a simple shooter it’s rich in replay value. This is more true regarding the multiple ways to traverse its world. Players are encouraged to take different paths or at least explore every corner of the map. Doing so rewards players with better routes or new weapons and upgrades. If you miss them the first time, you will want to go back and look around more, you will not be disappointed.
Confront Your Demons
When a game attempts to capture that 90’s nostalgia, they often make the mistake of also incorporating dated elements. Specifically regarding the level design. Cultic: Chapter One is no different as it too has fallen into this trap. There are stages of a level that lacks a sense of direction or feels cluttered with unnecessary natural objects. They were already annoying back in the day but became completely dated by the mid-2000’s.
Thankfully this problem is more limited to a few sections and not an entire level of the game. Plus it’s the only issue I had with the game and it feels minor compared to the overall experience.
Only the Beginning
This is supposed to be the start of a much grander experience and so far I’m more than impressed. Chapter One is already a game that is rich in old-school fun and replay value. The combat is simple and fun while there is plenty to find around each corner of the levels. Like more cheese on nachos, the other chapters seem to be going to add more to an already great shooter. Basically, it’s the perfect game for fans of classic shooters.
Cultic: Chapter One has all the hallmarks of a retro shooter along with the lessons learned on how to make a quality game. This is an experience that old-school gamers and fans of retro titles are going to enjoy.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
Disclaimer: Stride PR provided the game used for this review.
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