Zack Bon is a cop in the Special Operations unit. Zack is about to undergo his first solo operation. A dangerous cult, known as 'Cult Of The Stars' have barricaded themselves in a villa just outside of town. Not much is known about this cult, except that they have weapons. But what they plan to do with the weapons is anyones guess. The cult haven't talked to anyone outside the villa... until now! Zack has been given permission to enter the villa unarmed, and try to find a peaceful solution to the situation. He must persuade the cult members to give themselves up, before facing off against the cult leader. All this, without any weapons? It will be tough, but Zack is not afraid. Luckily, he can still communicate with his boss with the help of a Micro Communicator that the cult don't know about.
The game is entirely controlled with your keyboard. The idea is to find a peaceful solution by negotiating with the cult. You have to search the villa, picking up items (just walk over an item to pick it up) along the way. A lot of the villa is out of bounds to begin with, but you can open doors by finding keys or activating switches. Simply walk over a red switch to activate it, and turn it green. The only trouble is, you often don't know which door you have just opened, so you may need to explore the villa to discover new areas.
You can talk to people by simply walking into them, and they will usually tell you that they want an item. Once you give them that item, they will either trade you another item, or open a door for you, giving you access to more areas in the villa. However, if you accidentally walk into them again, they will repeat the same thing, and you have to go through the whole dialogue with them again. You can save your game at any time by pressing 'Esc', and I recommend you save often. There are many chemical spills and acid spills throughout the villa which damage your health. Luckily, there are also first-aid kits scattered around which can heal you. Your health level starts at 100%, so be sure to keep an eye on it. If you reach 0%, then you will die.
Puzzles are very much a 'Give Me This, And I'll Do That For You' variety. The whole game is about finding the item that So-And-So wants, so you can get another item in return or get a door opened for you. The hard part is finding that item, or getting access to that item. A lot of the villa is closed off to you at the beginning, and you can only gain access by finding keys, finding an item, or activating a switch. It can be frustrating when you can see the item you need, but a door is preventing you from getting to it. I will give you a tip now to save you from a LOT of searching around - the brown key is next to the pool in the Indoor Garden.
Cult is played with a top-down view, meaning that you are looking down on the game from above. Strong, bright colours have been used throughout, and this adds a lot of enjoyment to the game. It's easy to tell what is flowers, what is tables, what is chairs etc. When you are talking to someone, or when you are talking yourself, a small window will pop up showing an icon of that person (along with his name), and what he is saying. Your health meter, as well as your inventory and what keys you have are shown along the bottom. Inventory items are represented by a picture icon, so you can tell at a glance what items you have. If you want a more detailed description of an item, scroll left or right (End button or Page Down button) above the arrow keys, then press Insert.
MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS
The sound effects in Cult are not that impressive. Don't get me wrong - they're not bad, they're just not very exciting. You can hear Zack's footsteps as he is walking along, as well as the odd beep or buzz as he performs various tasks or walks through chemical spills, but that's about it. But then again, you don't really need many sound effects for this kind of game. Music, on the other hand, is beautiful, and I loved listening to it. It's quite grand, and orchestral I thought. The music changes every so often, so you get some variety.
Cult is an excellent adventure game that really makes you use your brains. You must find a peaceful solution by searching the villa, negotiating, and trading. It is a refreshing idea, and the game controls works well. Music is very rich and detailed, and I loved listening to it. I found it quite frustrating trying to find out which door has just been opened by which switch, and sometimes found myself wandering aimlessly because of this. I found the top-down style of graphics very interesting to see, and the strong, bright colours made the game even more enjoyable. If you want a game to challenge you, then why not try Cult.
Review by: Frodo