The Shrouded Isle

Run your own Love­craftian cult in The Shrouded Isle.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Andy Kelly

In three years a god named Ch­er­nobog will emerge from the sea, bring­ing the apoc­a­lypse with it. As a high priest you must se­lect cultists to sac­ri­fice to the de­ity, while main­tain­ing or­der and dis­ci­pline. Sac­ri­fice some­one with­out proof of any mis­deeds and the peo­ple may turn on you. And even if they are proven sin­ners, their fam­ily won’t ap­pre­ci­ate it. The Shouded Isle is the cult man­age­ment sim never knew I wanted, and there’s a dark charm in how it en­cour­ages you to be as ruth­less a zealot as you can. There are no prag­matic so­lu­tions to prob­lems, and no get­ting around the fact that some­one has to die.

Ig­no­rance, fer­vour, dis­ci­pline, pen­i­tence and obe­di­ence are the five con­cepts that de­ter­mine the course each game takes, which lasts about an hour. Rep­re­sented by me­ters, if any of them drop to zero it’s game over. So if the peo­ple be­come too smart be­cause you haven’t been or­gan­is­ing enough book burn­ings, your ig­no­rance me­ter will empty and you’ll have to start again. Sim­i­larly, if they aren’t pen­i­tent enough for their sins, you lose. It’s a game about bal­ance. The ac­tions you take will ei­ther raise or lower these five things, mak­ing ev­ery de­ci­sion count. One poor choice can

doom your cult and lose you favour with Ch­er­nobog.

Games are split into sea­sons, and your first de­ci­sion at the be­gin­ning of each one is choos­ing who will rep­re­sent your vil­lage’s fam­i­lies and work for you. But your cit­i­zens have hid­den traits, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive, that af­fect your chances of mak­ing it to the end. Vasil­isa Ef­fer­son, for in­stance, loudly shamed a cou­ple hold­ing hands, earn­ing me three ex­tra dis­ci­pline. But when asked about her own sins, she shrugged and changed the sub­ject, los­ing me some pen­i­tence. And for that, I de­cided to sac­ri­fice her to Ch­er­nobog. The Ef­fer­sons weren’t too happy about this, but some­one had to be de­voured by the an­gry sea god.

SIM­PLE THINGS

The Shrouded Isle is a won­der­fully unique game with a stark, strik­ing two-colour art style and su­perbly at­mo­spheric sound and mu­sic. And while there’s fun to be found in jug­gling the needs of your cult, hop­ing you can last long enough to wel­come Ch­er­nobog, it’s never deep enough to re­ally grab me. How­ever, as an ac­ces­si­ble, light­weight strat­egy game to dip in and out of, it’s fan­tas­tic. The stream­lined in­ter­face is nicely de­signed, and some of the choices you’re forced to make are de­li­ciously evil. If you’ve ever wanted to start your own Love­craftian cult, your time has come.

Your cit­i­zens have hid­den traits, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive

There’s no avoid­ing sac­ri­fice.

Choose who rep­re­sents the vil­lage.

Traits can work for or against you.

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