There’s no way to dance around the subject: The Shrouded Isle is a deliciously dark, twisted, and fascinating take on strategy simulation games. The developer bills this game as a “cult village management simulator” and I absolutely love it.
When opening The Shrouded Isle for the first time, you will undoubtedly notice the bold, monochromatic olive color that dominates the screen. This bleak color palette persists throughout the game. For me, this artistic choice makes me feel a bit apprehensive (especially given the nature of the game), but it also pulls the eye toward the negative spaces on screen and makes me appreciate the beauty of what can be drawn with just two colors.
Once in the game, you quickly realize how dark your choices are expected to be. As the high priest of the town, you are responsible for the spiritual welfare of your village. This includes preparing for the awakening of a dark god by purging your village of its heretics and sinners through sacrifice.
At the start of each season, you must select one person from each of the village’s five major families. These five families are associated with various traits like ignorance, fervor, obedience, discipline, and penitence – all of which you will need to cultivate in order to ensure compliance from the villagers. During your turns in a given season, you will discover attributes of the selected family members.
At the end of the season, you must kill one of them.
How the families react to your decision of whom to sacrifice hinges largely on how well you’ve promoted the various traits in the village, along with the severity of the sins of the chosen sacrifice. Was the sin unforgivable or just a minor trespass? Have you already recently sacrificed a member from that family? All of these factors play into how the family of the sacrifice react to your decision – and if you lose the loyalty of the families, are you sure you can maintain control over the village?
I certainly want to find out.
The Shrouded Isle launches June 2017 on Steam.