Genre: Retro Horror FPS
Modes: Single Player
Developed by: Jasozz Games
Published by: 3D Realms
Release date: October 13 2022
Platform I played on: PC
A cool, retro horror game about a disgraced detective figuring out the truth about an insidious cult? Check. Fast paced shooting that's actually fun and not a chore? Check. Shooting, slashing and molotov-throwing your way through levels? Check. When I first heard about this title, my interest was piqued and it felt like a must play for me. Cultic is a short 3-4 hour experience that doesn't leave a moment dull, and hooks you in with it's fun gameplay right from the beginning. Alongside it's well crafted level design, soundtrack and retro visual aesthetic, Cultic: Chapter One is a must play for retro horror fans alike. I'm keen for Chapter two, and I'll be jumping into that whenever that releases. There wasn't many negative aspects I found with this game, and with that in mind let's jump into the full review;
Rise up. Fight back.
In Cultic: Chapter One you play as a disgraced detective in first person as you unravel the truth behind an insidious cult. Not only is this cult horrifying, but they're also devoted to a Lovecraftian like entity (What a winning combo!). You're following the tracks of a journalist who gets entangled with the cult while searching for a mission person. As you can guess, this goes about as well as you can expect, and like any protagonist in a horror game, you of course investigate all this on your own into the unknown. Enemies range from being in robes, to big guys with chainsaws to extremely terrifying levitating beings. Of course there's more to include especially towards the end of the game- but I think it's worth playing and experiencing for yourself.
In total, there are 10 levels to explore and fight your way through including creepy catacombs and even a grave shipyard. Oh and let's not forget of course abandoned mines! Scattered throughout levels you'll also be able to find notes and secrets that gives you more insight into the cult, and events that occurred.
The story presents itself in typical retro FPS fashion - a silent protagonist, guns blazing, explosives throwing and axe slashing enemies while a kick ass soundtrack plays in the background. On top of this of course is the immaculate sound design of each slash, punch, shot and explosion to add to the experience. Overall, I enjoyed the story and how it unfolds, and I'm pretty keen to get my hands on Chapter Two when that comes out. The story takes around 5 hours depending on your playstyle, so you can likely finish it within a day or so depending on your schedule.
Guns Blazing, Molotov throwing and Axe slashing
As I prefer controllers when I play games, I played the game majority with my Xbox controller. I briefly tried keyboard and mouse just to check it out, and both ways of playing feels fluid and quick like a retro FPS should.
This game requires you to improvise within your environmental surroundings if you want to survive this horror nightmare. You can approach combat any way you like from being trigger happy or taking a slower, more methodical approach. Personally I always went in guns blazing, as I found it more fun that way. Throughout the levels you'll discover mid century weapons and explosives, including shotguns, pistols, dynamite and Molotov's just to name a few.
There's also a bit of searching and exploring to do. Each level you have to explore the area in order to find a key or a machine part in order to progress to the next level. There's no hints, but thankfully it doesn't feel like an impossible for challenge. For me, I think it had the right amount of challenge without making it overly complex or feel like a chore.
I had a blast (literally) with the gameplay. The combat was satisfying, fluid and genuinely a heap of fun. My personal favourite combat move was throwing Molotov's and dynamite and using the shotgun. Running, jumping and shooting your way of a situation is rewarding, and again it didn't feel like an endless boring chore. Even when the game overwhelms you with 20 enemies at once with no notice, you have to improvise on the spot and hope whatever you do gets you the hell out of there!
Graphics | Design
As you can see by the screenshots and as I mentioned before, the game's visual design is reminiscent of a retro old school FPS that takes you right back to the days of Windows 95. It's intentionally dated, but thanks to modern gaming engines the physics and lighting were slightly more enhanced for this experience. There's nothing else to say about this aspect other than it's crafted impeccably with all design elements working together flawlessly to create a unique experience. The level design is overall pretty good, but sometimes did lack some variation.
What's that sound?
Perfectly designed that fits into the tone and overall atmosphere of the game (It immediately got added to my Spotify Video Game Soundtrack Playlist). It gives off a late 80's/90's sound from that era of gaming with just a bit of modern sound including drums, bass, electric guitar and synths. The soundtrack is also composed by Jason Smith.
Glitches | Bugs | Issues
None that I came across. May be the first game in a while that hasn't run into any issue. Of course, this may vary with each player so I can't say for certain there isn't any issues, but from what I played there was none. I would be surprised if there was anything major I missed though.
With a selection of difficulties to pick from, I'd say it has plenty of replay ability for the hardcore players. Personally when I get time (whenever that is) to jump back into this game, I'd love to try a higher difficulty mode - just to see how far I get. As you can see below there's a range to pick from including casual, standard, hard, very hard and extreme.
Cultic Chapter One is a game I can highly recommend to all players alike. Whether you're new to the genre or have been yearning for a throwback FPS - I can recommend this. It's fun with both controller and old school keyboard and mouse, and it doesn't over stay its welcome with it's game length. There's enough here for replay ability, achievement hunting and this could even be a fun first game to stream for the first time. Regardless of whatever difficulty you pick from, you'll still have a pleasant experience - and there's no wrong or right way to play - you play how you wanna play.