The Shrouded Isle – PC Review

Genre: Indie, Simulation
Developer: Jongwoo Kim, Erica Lahaie, FX Bilodeau, Tanya Short
Publisher: Kitfox Games
Release Date: Aug 5, 2017
Edited by KnightAvenger

Imagine yourself on a dark, Gothic and beaten island off the coast of Northern England. The old families of the isolated community, well steeped in old pagan beliefs, sit atop of the isles’ society, answering only to a mysterious cult figure, a high priest.

The scenario looks like it was adapted from one of the Storied Hammer House of Horror movie studios that made many great early horror movies or from the deep, dark disturbing tales about Innsmouth, as told by H. P. Lovecraft. It is wonderfully threatening and dark, a perfect setting for a dark doomsday cult simulator, as one might imagine a deep tapestry of Machiavellian power struggle between the five different, great families of the Shrouded Isle.

The five houses of the Shrouded Isle each represent one of the game’s major traits. House Kegnni represents ignorance, House Iosefka represents zeal, House Cadwell represents discipline, House Efferson represents remorse, and House Blackborn represents obedience. Your decisions adjust the trait’s bars and they have to be adjusted to avoid the displeasure of your God. Your goal is to survive three years or 12 “seasons.” At the end of each, you have to sacrifice a member of one of the five houses. Your balancing of traits through the choice’s promotions and sacrifices keeps the “order” of the Shrouded Isle and helps you stay in favor with the pagan God you worship.

The art style and artwork of the game deliver a perfect backdrop to an eerie cult simulation, the soundtrack equally well suited to help create the necessary foreboding and eerie atmosphere. However, the gameplay itself is pretty repetitive and shallow. This is perhaps the biggest disadvantage the game has, as there is a lot of potential here, so much more you want to learn about the five families, so much more you want to be able to do. To me, that is the biggest reason the game becomes so wholly frustrating. I am increasingly reminded of what is missing, as opposed to enjoying what is there.

The atmosphere is all here; sadly, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot of repetitive choice making, and, when push comes to shove, the game is a fairly simple numbers game where adjusting the different attributes up (making others drop) is most of the gameplay. In order to stay in control, you must keep these traits from dropping to low while you, one by one, sacrifice members of the families to your God, as you attempt to survive 12 seasons until the return of your “god and savior?”

The often-short game sessions tend to become repetitive, and maybe because the game’s atmosphere holds promises of a much deeper story, the lack of depth in the gameplay is felt even more. As a big fan of the dark Gothic horror movies, TV series and novels by Poe, Le Fanu and Lovecraft (to name a few), I really, really want to like this game, but it is quite simply too repetitive, too simple and too shallow to get a pass. I may be extra hard on the game but if I am, it is mostly because I see a huge potential here that has been left largely unexplored and unused. In addition, once the initial shock effect of having to sacrifice human beings to a pagan God passes, there is very little left.

Pros:

  • Atmosphere
  • Background story
  • Artwork
  • Music

Cons:

  • Repetitive
  • Overly simple
  • Some traits give very random results

Adarkchylde gives The Shrouded Isle a Drastik Measure 6.0 out of 10 (60)

If the game had not been quite as repetitive and perhaps relied less on the shock value of doing human sacrifices and if the game had delved deeper into the wonderfully eerie setting, I might have gone a little up in the rating. However, as it stands, there simply isn’t enough value for one’s money to justify a price tag of $9.99 on Steam.