Alright we’re back to the wonderful world of indie boomer shooters, again. This is the fifth one I’ve played this year, and from the looks of it there’s no stopping the train of indie developers who want to make this sort of game. Whatever, today’s review topic is Cultic which was an indie boomer shooter that came out a bit late last year and recently it received an update which added a whole new chapter. The team behind it, Jasozz Games, are currently busy working on the sequel but in the meantime they offer a little warm up for where the story could bring us next. Now you see many of the boomer shooters I’ve played seem to wear their inspirations on their sleeves. You have Prodeus which is trying to imitate Doom as well as bring over ideas from the modern entries. Amid Evil is trying to be a more fast paced and action focused Heretic, and then you have Dusk which is trying to be this blend of numerous retro shooters. Cultic feels like a combination between Resident Evil 4 and Blood, and I’m down for it. Probably because recently I just beat the Resident Evil 4 Remake and that game is a masterpiece although a bit flawed. However, I never played Blood and a lot of old school shooters fans considered it one of the best titles in the genre. You see, Blood didn’t sell very well for its time. Doom and Duke Nukem 3D were rocking socks off hardcore 1990s players, but then you had Blood which failed to get its name out there.
Many people used to consider Blood a Doom clone due to how thematically it was similar. You had demonic monsters running about, light horror elements, and it was just a one man against the forces of hell. Very Doom-esque, but what numerous players failed to realize was how much personality was packed into Blood compared to Doom. The protagonist, Caleb, was a wisecrack gunslinger who remained a badass from beginning to end. Dropping one liners and references to series such as Evil Dead which Blood took a ton of inspiration from. In fact, you can probably compare Caleb a bit to Ash Williams and how ridiculous they can be at times but still come out to be likable characters. The plot had quite a bit of depth, Caleb’s backstory was interesting, and the game was quite challenging. You couldn’t just rush into a group of enemies and expect to gun them all down easily. No, you actually have to be prepared for encounters and consider the tools and space you had. Although, the challenging nature of Blood is probably what put a handful of players off. The game got ridiculously difficult at times and part of it was due to how many foes used hit scan weapons compared to easily avoidable projectiles. Blood was a failure, but through time it gained a cult following and that's why it became one of the best in the genre. There were a ton of people who wanted more of Blood and the thrilling adventures of Caleb, but unfortunately the future of Blood didn’t look too bright. The sequel, Blood 2: The Chosen, not only sold worse but somehow managed to go backwards. Monolith Productions moved on and we never heard of Blood again. Same guys made F.E.A.R. and Shadow of Mordor.
In short, Blood is a cult classic and luckily in 2019 we received a definitive edition of the game called Blood: Fresh Supply. However, that’s not what we are covering today. I just wasted our time talking about a game we aren’t even going to mention for the rest of this review. What we are really talking about are games that succeeded Blood and today’s game did just that. Cultic is one of the best boomer shooters I’ve ever played and has even managed to surpass Dusk which was my previous favorite boomer shooter. In fact, it might be one of the best shooters I’ve played in general. I don’t know that much about the devs besides this being their first game, but for their first game it is outstanding how much they managed to get right. Cultic really is just a love letter to Blood, and Resident Evil 4 as some of its narrative beats are very similar to that game. I just really love this game and want to shed light onto what is the best shooter of 2022. What’s that I see? “Fresh victims for the ever growing army of the undead.”
A lot of individuals have been disappearing as of lately. News got out quickly, families became worried, and the law has been doing the best they can to locate those who are missing. Series of investigations were conducted and they were close to figuring out who the kidnappers were. Just when they were about to figure it out the investigation was called off and the lead figure was laid off from his station. More kidnappings arise and things got worse, but it didn’t mean the effort to find these individuals was over. You are the lead investigator, and for months you’ve been trying to figure out where the kidnappers are. You finally nail down their location and drive deep into the woods to find them. You park your car outside the gate of a locked village and attempt to find a way inside. Just before you could get it open you are attacked by a group of hooded men. They beat you up real good and leave you for dead in a pile of corpses, possibly all of those they had kidnapped. You’re not dead yet though and manage to arise from the bodies. You pick up an axe and make way to where you were last. You recover the pistol you brought with you, gear up with some better gear, and fight the hooded men that stand in your way as some of them carry heavy artillery. You also discover notes of those previously in the area and what they knew. How a strange cult arose and they are plotting something devious deep beneath the earth. So your goal is simple. Fight the cultists, journey to where they are performing a ritual, and stop it. One bullet at a time, and it looks like this is going to be one of the longest nights you’ll ever face.
If you’ve played a boomer shooter before and I bet you have, otherwise you wouldn’t click on a review for a niche game, then you probably know how these games work. Venture through areas, fight storms of baddies in uniquely designed arenas, use a multitude of guns to defend yourself, and get yourself towards the goal. You can tank hits, but if your health drops below zero then it is game over. You also don’t have generating health which means you have to be on the lookout for health kits to restore it. You can also pick up armor plates which offer a bit of defense to enemy attacks and reduce some of the damage they deal in exchange for said armor degrading with each hit. Your movement speed is a lot faster compared to a lot of shooters and you can use this to your advantage. Swaying around goes with ease and getting the drop on them if you have the chance. Your arsenal of tools is quite big, I mean that’s a staple for boomer shooters. If you can’t carry more than eight guns then I guess get out, and then come back when you are more ready to sit at the big kids table. You start off with an axe, your standard melee weapon, but compared to a lot of melee weapons in shooters this one remains quite useful even after you accumulate weapons. You can perform a charge attack and if you aim for the head of foes you may kill them easily, and you carry multiple axes at once and can chuck them at foes. You can even aim them for the head which will kill them instantly. If you miss you can retrieve the axes which is good.
You probably shouldn’t use axes all the time though as running into a room full of multiple foes or a single guy with a shotgun/machine gun will get you killed easily. That’s why you have quite literally everything else. You get a pistol, a shotgun, bolt-action rifle, machine gun, sniper rifle, grenade launcher, flamethrower, revolver, dynamite, and molotov cocktails. Some weapons are best used during specific situations like the sniper rifle to shoot foes from a long distance, and others you can probably form strategies with like if you are really daring like me you can just rush in with a shotgun and bum rush enemies. The dynamite and cocktails are pretty fun to use as you can light them with a lighter or just toss them onto the ground. Then you can pull out one of your firearms, wait for an enemy to walk up, and then shoot the explosives on the ground. For example, whenever I see one of those dastardly chainsaw guys I like to lay some dynamite along the ground. Wait for them to chase me and then set off the dynamite. Boom, just transformed a tough encounter into an easier one. In fact, the world is reactive in certain ways and you can use items in the environment to your advantage. Whether that be throwing furniture into the face of foes or smashing a lamp onto the ground which causes fire to spread. Enemies come in a variety of flavors and the different combinations of them combined with the level design creates for a lot of varying encounters to test your skills and ability to dispose of them using your tools.
There are secrets hidden cleverly throughout levels and you are going to want to search carefully so that you have what you need to survive. I should mention that early on Cultic is more survival driven compared to a lot of boomer shooters. It’s very much like Resident Evil 4 where you start off powerless and with time you transform into a badass. You want to check every locker, corner, and container so that you have enough ammo for the next encounter. Areas you’d skip in other shooters are now vital spots you may want to check as they might have loot. However, you also have to be aware of enemies jumping you so it creates some risk. You also don’t want to rapidly fire away your supplies as again ammo is hard to come by early on and you may need stronger guns for tougher foes. Cultic is very much like Resident Evil 4 in that shooting the enemy in the right spot can make encounters less stressful, but there’s still enough stress from how you are being nailed from every side. Landing headshots feel satisfying and there’s even this shielded foe similar to that of the ones in Resident Evil 4 where you could just wait for an opening or blast their shield enough hoping it breaks and they are open for you to deal a lethal blow. There’s the occasional boss fight here and there, slower paced levels focused on horror, and yeah that’s just about it. Cultic knows when to get you down to a ground level and kick everything into full gear, and I love it. Hopefully you can survive long enough and stop the ritual from commencing.
Cultic is amazing and I’m just gonna say right now that I strongly recommend it whether you are a fan of boomer shooters or not. It is such a treat to play and just when you think it’s going on longer than it should it wraps up and leaves a really satisfying feeling. I like the levels and how well paced the game is. Much like Resident Evil 4 you start off pretty powerless and with nothing but an axe and somewhat weak pistol. Then you start nabbing some better guns and fighting any small groups becomes more manageable. You aren’t too overpowered at the start, so Cultic then paces you into getting good with headshots and making every bullet count. Then some new and more fierce enemy types are thrown in and the game really starts to amp up difficulty. Nothing too bad, but when it gets going it really gets going. As you dash around arenas, try not to get gun down to death, and find ways to outsmart your opponents. You can die quickly, but here it works because you aren’t some super soldier badass with enchanted weapons or power armor. You’re a detective who got fired from his job, otherwise an average human being. I like the introduction of some of the enemies and how they give you a clear idea of what new threat you are facing. I love how they introduce the snipers. You walk through a calm forest thinking nothing's wrong, but then you hear a gunshot in the distance and a beer bottle in front of you shatters. Then if you stand still for too long they fire at you and that’s a clear sign to take cover. You can’t see the lil snipers in the distance, so it’s either you move close enough so you can fight them or pull out a sniper rifle of your own and hope you can see them in time.
All of the guns are fun to use and none of them feel unbalanced. They serve specific roles during combat and never did I feel like I was overusing one particular weapon. The bolt-action rifle is good for medium range, grenade launcher for groups or large powerful foes, shotgun for closed quarters, assault rifle for groups that are more spread out, and much more. Movement feels great, is responsive, and never did the level geometry work against me. Come to think of it a lot of the levels in this game have quite a bit of verticality and it never was a detriment. The game is made mainly of pixels, but despite that it is a really good looking game. The environments, use of light and shading, and how much some of these locales drip with atmosphere. The Asylum,a late game level, is great despite it being slow paced. Most levels will use ambient music, but here it's dark and quiet. There are enemies hidden cleverly about and you just have to cross your fingers and hope when you run into one you can react quickly. Some levels are beat for beat with RE4 which is fine. There’s only two boss fights in this game, a tank and the final boss which is a ginormous eldritch piece of horror. Not a lot like the other boomer shooters I’ve played, but both of them are extremely fun. The level for which you fight the tank is this gauntlet of enemies that endlessly spawn in. Basically the whole cult is trying to storm you and hold you back long enough so they can roll out the heavy artillery, but it’s not enough to stop you from journeying further. Then you have the final boss which is the Icon of Sin from Doom 2 but if it were good.
The story is pretty vague and in some ways they could have done more with it. Not saying every single game needs an antagonist, but Cultic could have really used one as what seems like one is introduced during the last second before the final boss and he gets killed once it starts. Not only that, but it really feels like the story was setting up for a future chapter. Yet again, why would I complain about this when the game is fully titled Cultic: Chapter One and they’re working on the sequel now. The core story is weak, but yet again the story is never a highlight for these types of games and I did enjoy some aspects of it. Finding documents detailing what led to the main events and seeing how events unfold. How around the second level or so you look up to the sky and you see it glow red and emit loud noises. Hearing that demonic screech and knowing you are the only one who can stop what is about to come. I didn’t really come upon any level secrets, but they do reward you with weapon parts to upgrade your gear. I forgot to talk about it earlier, but there’s a fun little upgrade system where your guns get stronger with time. It adds a satisfying sense of progression to Cultic and again rewards you for exploration. Besides that I don’t really have any major complaints with Cultic. This is as good as a boomer shooter can get, and it really is a pure love letter to Blood and Resident Evil 4, and may have convinced me to give Blood a shot someday. In the end I am going to give Cultic a 9.5/10 for excellence at best.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!