Rod Humble, the developer I always think of as being responsible for the majority of the interesting ideas in The Sims 2 and 3, has announced a new solo project. Going by the name Cults & Daggers [official site], it's a turn-based strategy game " about building an ancient religion in the time between the death of Buddha and the birth of Christ ". This involves sending disciples to the various regions of the world where they perform tasks ranging from street preaching and recruitment to investigating the occult and killing enemies. I've already spent some time with an early version.
There'll be extensive thoughts to follow but as I've been wrapped up in Dying Light for most of the week, I haven't had chance to learn the intricacies of the game. It has the kind of interface that takes a little time to crack, particularly since the tutorial text isn't in place yet, but every attempt is a little more rewarding than the last.
The aim of the game is to have your cult create the most Hope over 12 rounds of play, each of which is divided into several turns. To do this, you'll attempt to build the reputation of your faith, by spreading the Good (or Bad) Word, while keeping three other nascent faiths at bay. So far, I've mostly attempted to keep my disciples hidden, blaspheming and generally messing with local beliefs while attempting to pin my treacherous behaviour on my opponents.
It's possible to weaponise the occult, discover miracles on a procedural 'tech tree' and interfere with the politics of the world. In short, it's exactly the kind of complicated that appeals to me, wrapped in a novel setting.
I'm absolutely hooked by the theme and the world is an active place, with plagues and wars interrupting my plots, but I don't always find the results of my actions clear. It took me a while to get my head around the superficially similar Dominions as well, though, and that hasn't left my hard drive since. I'm also keen to try the multiplayer, which seems like it'll be perfectly suited to the kind of treachery and double-dealing that is the mark of the great slow-burn strategy games. I'll write more about Cults & Daggers closer to launch