The Shrouded Isle
Top Critic Average
A winningly nasty turn-based cult sim with beautiful monochrome art and surgical orchestral audio.
It's a stylish game centered around an interesting moral dilemma. However, there just isn't enough world-building to hammer the point home.
The Shrouded Isle did not feel like a game for beginners to the genre. The premise, the world-building, and sound all made the game into a wonderful sensory experience. But for some time, it also felt like a beast to wrestle with, and an experience that felt more Sisyphean than Lovecraftian. Perhaps that’s just on me to “git gud” in managing my damn cult.
The Shrouded Isle may lack variety, but it's strong management systems and creepy aesthetic make it a worthwhile experience.
“The Shrouded Isle” keeps its grit through replay-ability, due to its random regeneration of NPC sinners, requests from the mighty Chernobog, and random events threatening the cult from the inside-out.
The Shrouded Isle is a perfect game if looking for something quick and easy to play.
The Shrouded Isle is a game that some of you are going to love, while some of you are going to hate.
All being said, The Shrouded Isle is so razor-focused on its darkly original theme that it comes across as quite brave. This isn’t a necessarily uplifting or relaxing game. Nor is it particularly rewarding. It is, however, genuinely clever with how it works within an established genre, and it’s uncompromising in its vision. We need more games that are willing to do that.
It captured me for a while though, as I tried to go through many runs to learn the ins and outs of these villagers as I planned out my sacrifices strategically to keep them all in the dark of the true machinations of my charlatan cult leader's goals. That is, if the cult leader is lying. I mean, the Chernabog isn't real, right? Right?.
As a combination of both political strategy and Lovecraftian drama, The Shrouded Isle takes this idea and provides a comfortably tense experience whereby every choice should matter but with enough leeway that inexperienced players can still make mistakes. Fans of classic horror literature may be drawn to this game through its distortedly gothic art style and otherworldly premise, but the large difficulty curve may be too complicated for them, even if the repetitive gameplay structure can feel rewarding once you get the hang of it.