Intimidating Cultivation Simulator
Amazing Cultivation Simulator is a beast of a game. Jumping into this game, I immediately found myself over my head and filled with a sense of dread I hadnít experienced since I got a whopping 30% on my first physics exam in college. The thing is, if I had the choice to retake that physics exam or spend another night with Amazing Cultivation Simulator, Iím not sure I could give you a confident answer. I am fairly confident that Amazing Cultivation Simulator is harder to learn than the physics of motion and I didnít exactly enjoy my time with the game. What makes this hurt even more is that I am pretty sure this a fantastic game here, just hidden outside of my limited reach.
With that ridiculous contradiction out of the way, letís get into it.
SoÖ What IS Cultivation?
Amazing Cultivation Simulator is meant to simulate the ďcultivationĒ genre of storytelling popularized in China. For those unfamiliar, the cultivation genre follows the story of a group of people that slowly ascend to godliness through learning, meditation, and energy cultivation. Going from normal people to godlike beings with magical powers is a great plotline for extremely popular tv shows, movies, novels, animes, and comics. They can becoming of age stories, modern day soap operas, and so many other stories that provide drama and cultural relevance.
The game itself is casually compared to games like Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress; simulations that promise endlessly possibility through AI storytelling, but I think comparing it to these two games does Amazing Cultivation Simulator a disservice. Amazing Cultivation Simulator does, and largely succeeds at doing, what it sets out to do - be a simulation of the cultivation genre. It falls slightly short of the endless storytelling that Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress provide, sometimes due to translations issues I ran into and other times due to how slow stories unfolded, but it does provide a unique and interesting world.
Time to Learn Feng Shui
You start out with just two disciples in a fantastical world, looking to start a new sect. Overtime, you will recruit more followers, grow your village, fight off intruders, and take care of your disciples.
To keep your disciples working and happy, you need to monitor their mood. Villagerís moods will increase and decrease depending on anything from boredom to temperature to the layout of their rooms following laws of Feng Shui. You heard that right, to keep your villagers happy, you will need to learn the basics of Feng Shui. This complex system of temperature, Feng Shui, and dozens of other traits just to keep your disciples happy is both exhausting and fascinating. It provides for so many interesting concepts and thoughtful problems in building your village and creating the right supplies. That being said, without looking up an exact guide for how to get the right clothing or how to create the right room to keep that angry villager happy, it can be incredibly daunting to know what to do.
Time to work!
Building and crafting in the game is relatively straightforward and satisfying. There are a good amount of options for crafting quickly and efficiently. New buildings and production equipment become available as you develop your town and disciples. Slowly feeding you the equipment and features in the game through a bit of a progression system is actually a welcome feature. So much of this game is so overwhelming that only having a bite-size amount of things to build makes the beginning of the game a little easier. Players can quickly create a system that spits out timber, bricks, flour and meals relatively quickly. Once a true sect is developed, more options open up to you: Trading areas to sell and buy things, observatories to manage your disciples Qi, and a large amount of other buildings and equipment.
Having this set of buildings to strive for along with monitoring my disciples moods were the two things that gave me any sort of direction in the game. I never really knew what I was supposed to be doing, and without googling and looking up Wikis on the game, I probably would have been completely lost. The moods of players and building goals helps, but it is not enough to give me any sort of confidence in what I was doing.
When your disciples arenít being moody or helping build your city, they are cultivating their inner selves to eventually transcend into godlike forms. They start as outer disciples and then, with enough training, level up to inner disciples, eventually ascending. Each ďlevelĒ they transcend to provides for different gameplay elements. Outer disciples simply build, hunt, and provide resources for the community. Outer disciples get the chance to help out much more quickly and are provided with a robust skill tree with certain perks and abilities.
Most notably, outer disciples can go on adventures. The game provides for a world map where players can send their outer disciples to embark on text based mini-game-like adventures. As an outer disciple experiences one of these adventures, you will be prompted with choices for them to make in small stories taking place in other villages across China. This idea of adventures within the general simulation was a welcome change of pace. As soon as I was getting tired of building or cultivating, a new adventure might start or I would need to make an important decision for one of my disciples.
This game truly has it all, but it is hard to see how it all works together unless players spend hours and hours reading through wikis and guides. I canít see how anybody could walk into this game blind and have a good time. The tutorial offered in the game is unhelpful and feels more like a dull textbook with out-of-context information.
The developers try to alleviate this with forums attached to every important piece of the game. Click on a little chat bubble next to a menu item and you will get an entire forum discussing that one menu item. The issue with this is that it seems to be poorly moderated; perhaps not moderated at all. Most of the chat is people making fun of the game, talking about the inappropriate names they gave their sect and characters. What could be a great social platform of the game seems to have turned into a pool for trolls.
Youíve Been Warned
With all of that said, if you do take the dive, I am willing to bet you will have a great time after about 20+ hours of learning and confusion. A game like this, if learned and appreciated, could provide for hundreds of hours of enjoyment. It rewards people that are willing to take on its incredibly steep learning curve. I donít think I have touched on major parts of the game because I just didnít get to a point where it was available or made sense to me. I think this blind spot in my review should be noted.
Just like Dwarf Fortress and Rimworld players, I see a community that has a lot of interesting things to say. I watch gameplay that is remarkable. It is gameplay that looks like a completely different game from what I am playing. It looks fun and creative, but it also looks unattainable for me. If you are willing to spend countless hours to get into this game, I truly think you will enjoy it. Partially because you are probably the type of person the game is aimed at, but also because Amazing Cultivation Simulator offers a unique perspective on simulators as a whole. But tread carefully. The leap of faith you have to take to get into Amazing Cultivation Simulator is a big one, and it was one I couldnít muster.
Use of Feng Shui and other cultural touchstones is meaningful and unique. Commitment to the game will reward you. True to its name and what it offers.
A learning curve like no other. Poor tutorials and forum management. Challenging to truly understand the vastness of the game.