The Shrouded Isle is a weird and dark game on Nintendo Switch where you get to manage your own cult. Intrigued? Find out more in our The Shrouded Isle review!
Once you get started and the bell rings, you will get to see a short cutscene that sets things up for this dark and cruel game. You are the High Priest, and for it is your job to continue with the tradition that has been alive and well for 495 years and counting, with bloody results. There is talk of a God that sleeps under the waves that will herald in a new era but only for those who are worthy. You start in spring with five years remaining until the 500 year anniversary and are tasked with finding out the heretics, the liars, and the sinners.
There are five aristocratic families that keep the village going, and while their acts and traits are different, they all share one goal: salvation. You must take on one seasonal advisor from each house, learning valuable information that will allow you to decide who you should set as a human sacrifice at the end of the season. Every action you make will impact the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of each of the five houses while increasing or decreasing the ignorance, fervor, discipline, penitence, and obedience traits. You have a set amount of inquiries for each house and must make good use of them to review and uncover each person’s traits.
You will get a bit of information on each person at each family once you start using your inquiries and hover over a character’s portrait. The virtues and vices for the characters are randomized so that each time you start a new run you find a different setup. In one run, for example, you might find that Nadya Cadwell is full of fervor and that she sometimes obsesses over some passages of the scripture. If you inquire about her virtue, you will uncover (at least for my run) that she’s a singer (which increases fervor by 10), and that children tell her she has a lovely voice. Inquire about her vice, and she might be uncovered as someone who is disobedient.
Once you have selected an advisor from each house, you can select to begin the season. You’ll then get to select from one to three advisors, and each selection will boost one of the five stats (ignorance, fervor, discipline, penitence, and obedience) that I mentioned before. The next step is reviewing the results of the actions taken by the advisors you have selected. You could, for instance, get Vadim Kegnni to burn some books, which will increase overall ignorance since, hey, he’s burning books full of knowledge! Fail, and ignorance will decrease. Succeed, and ignorance will get a nice boost. You’ll also get to see how their virtue and vice play an impact on the community. You can also perform inquiries to see if you can uncover more about the virtue and vice of each character you selected as an advisor.
Once all advisors are ready to go, you will get to see how all the actions impacted the satisfaction of each of the five houses. Once you review this, a new month for the season will commence so you can repeat the process. Once the third month is over, you will need to select one advisor to be offered as a human sacrifice. You should choose wisely and review the impact that the sacrifice of one or the other will have over the community so that you can plan accordingly. If you find an advisor who has a major vice, then the sacrifice will have a good impact on one stat, and the house to which he is (or, well, used to be) part of will grudgingly submit to your decision. But if sacrifice someone for whom you lack proof of their transgressions, then the house they belong to will be outraged.
If one of the stats is too low at the start of a new season, the game will warn you and prompt you to boost it before the new season is over. If the community lacks discipline, and the stat is flashing red, then that should tell you that you need to focus on it right away. The tricky part in this is when more than one stat is flashing since this will force you to juggle them so that you can continue with your run, or else the town might rebel against you… or worse. It’s a tough balancing act, but you will get the hang of things as you play, especially after your run is cut short by making one mistake too many.
The settings menu will allow you to change the master volume, music volume, SFX volume, and ambient volume. You can also select your language from English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese. There is also the option of changing the overall hue for the game, from Scorching Light (yellow), Poison Ivy (green), Sacramental Wine (red), Cremation Ashes (grey), Jack-O-Lantern (orange, of course), The Deeps (blue), and The Shallows (pink).
The Shrouded Isle is a game that some of you are going to love, while some of you are going to hate. The art style and design are excellent, but the gameplay loop might not grab your attention if you’re not into this sort of game. Trying to uncover the virtues and vices of each member of a house so that you can basically justify murdering them is not everyone’s cup of tea, but what can you expect from a cult management sim-like experience?
This The Shrouded Isle review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Kitfox Games.