I don’t care about the rise of retro shooters, or “boomer shooter” for those who insist on using that term. Although I don’t like to call them “boomer shooters”, I really enjoy the rise of these old-school inspired games. I spent many hours of my youth battling sprite-based demons in pixelated hallways. While some retro-style shooters really missed their mark, others like Dusk raise the bar. Culticwhile not the best i’ve played, definitely feels like an old school shooter.
Cultic is a first-person shooter inspired by Build Engine shooters like Blood. In reality, Cultic almost feels like a Blood imitation, or even a spiritual successor of some sort. Cultic emphasizes horror, which means taking down legions of cultists (if any) and the demons they frolic with. However, you don’t really have a choice: you rise from the dead in this nightmare, and it’s up to you to mow down legions of cultists to find its cause and stop it.
If you have played Build Engine games, Cultic will feel familiar, but a bit quirky. It’s because Cultic is designed like an older game, but has the bells and whistles you’d expect in a modern experience, including dynamic lighting, physics, and a fully 3D world. The enemies, however, are sprite-based – and boy, are they ugly. I don’t mean ugly as in horrifying, but rather ugly as in muddy sprites with pixelated distortion. I don’t know why retro shooters insist on making their graphics so muddy – maybe it’s to emulate CRT monitors and low resolutions or video cards with limited color palettes – but the result is something that succeeds to be a bit uglier than the actual retro first person shooters.
Since Cultic is a shooting game, it’s important that the shooting part is really fun, which it is. The weapons have the appropriate weight and punch when fired. Enemies lose their minds or explode spectacularly into piles of blood if blown up, or shrivel into bullets when set on fire. There’s also a decent variety of weapons available, ranging from the usual shooting fare to the more exotic.
I really enjoy the variety of enemies in Cultic. Many retro-inspired shooters just have waves of enemies walking towards you, but Cultic has enemies that behave more interestingly. Human enemies will hang back and shoot at you and take cover while Inhuman enemies tend to be wilder and attack you. Some other types of enemies will try to stay hidden and harass you from a distance, or even telekinetically, throwing objects at you while they’re out of sight.
Some Build Engine games were known for their large levels, and Cultic seemed to take this information sincerely. Each level is quite large, in fact, I found them to be a bit too large. I often found myself backtracking to find where I needed to go next. Now, backtracking isn’t automatically bad, but with such huge maps, it’s no fun. But Cultic’s the levels manage to be atmospheric and incorporate some truly spooky moments.
Cultic is a decent retro shooter that pays homage to classics like Blood: and he does a very good job. I wish the enemy art was a little more interesting, and less of a “retro” filter on the whole. But the gunplay is great and the level design is well done, even though the levels are bigger. If you like old school construction engine games, especially games like Bloodyou will find something to love with Cultic.
Cultic will be available tomorrow for PC via Steam.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.