"Cultist Simulator is a narrative game that lets you play a seeker after unholy mysteries, in a 1920s-themed setting of hidden gods and secret histories. Perhaps you're looking for knowledge, or power, or beauty, or revenge. Perhaps you just want the colours beneath the skin of the world," the Kickstarter pitch sort-of explains. "What you find may transform you forever. Every choice you make, from moment to moment, doesn't just advance the narrative - it also shapes it."
Kennedy has been busy since his departure last year from Failbetter Games, the studio he co-founded in 2010, working as a "guest writer" on Dragon Age, Stellaris, and "a mysterious R&D project" at Telltale. But Cultist Simulator is his first "solo commercial release" since Fallen London. "It's as peculiar and experimental as Fallen London was back in 2009, but without the grind or the F2P business model," he said.
Narratively at least, it certainly sounds that way. "You'll start with very little: your Passion, your Reason, some Funds, and a mysterious package from a benefactor. But you'll learn to combine them to unlock snippets of story, and grow your powers. Craft the Rite of the Crucible Soul. Recruit Believers and promote them to Disciples to serve as burglars, researchers, cat's-paws. Locate and pillage the Star-Shattered Fane or the Tomb of the Long. Penetrate the realm of the Hours, and win a place in their service," the pitch says.
"The dangers are many. The Authorities have departments dedicated to suppressing supernatural menaces, like you. Investigators will track down the rumours of their loved ones' disappearance. Rivals will challenge you for occult pre-eminence. The Dead and the Names of the Mansus prey on unwary souls. And your own altered Appetites may force you to act abominably."
It's not the most precise breakdown of a new game you'll ever encounter, I admit, but what it lacks in detail it makes up for in atmosphere and high concept. Who hasn't wanted their own cult at least a little bit?
To help flesh out what exactly The Cultist Simulator offers, a playable prototype is available at Itch.io. Kennedy warned that it's just a "proof of concept," with no option to save or load games and "some placeholder graphics, placeholder audio, placeholder content, and only a fraction of the final content and mechanics." But it will give you a feel for what it's all about, although it may take some digging to get there.
The Cultist Simulator Kickstarter is live now and runs until October 1.