The Shrouded Isle is an interesting management game where you play a religious (cough cult) leader who is guiding your people during the last 5 years of 500 years of suffering. The end goal is meant to be that you and those worthy will ascend with your god and be spared the fate of the sinners. It is a dark game, in case you couldn’t tell, that requires you to seek out sins, punish your people, and sacrifice those unworthy. The morbid side of me was thrilled to get to check out this game, the management lover in me was also excited. In the end, I found an interesting, though challenging, experience.
The Shrouded Isle takes place over 5 years, as mentioned, each year is broken up into the 4 seasons, each season is broken up into 3 months, naturally. At the start of each season, you must choose a representative from each one of the houses. The houses represent one of the stats you must balance to complete the game.
The stats are ignorance, fervor, discipline, penitence, and obedience. Through the season you can pick up from 1-3 representatives each month to help build the stats, the drawback being they will often lower the stats of other houses. How much they will raise or reduce a stat is based on their virtues and their vices. Some virtues are extremely helpful, while others can hurt other stats. Some vices will make certain characters essentially useless while others will have little in the way of impact. At the end of each season, you need to make sure that not only has no stat gone too low, but that no house is too upset either. As either of those things can cause you to lose.
It’s a little complicated, and there is more coming. The Shrouded Isle is one of those games where learning by playing comes in handy.
Beyond just helping (or hurting) in state building, vices are essential because of the sacrifice feature. If you sacrifice someone with a minor vice you will be hit with harder stat penalties, and the house associated with that person are more likely to rebel. Finding significant vices is a must. Beyond just keeping you from failing you will also be asked by your god to seek out certain sinners.
There are also small things like keeping track of events in the village, as well as purifying certain problems from people before it spreads to others.
In the end, like most management games it’s a lot to keep track of and balance. The game really does depend on trial by error. Your first attempts are unlikely to have much success between learning the game and the randomness of it. Eventually, you will start to understand the flow and get better at stat management, and how to balance doing what you need without suffering too many consequences.
The problem is the RNG of the game though. Everything is random, from which house has which sinners, how likely a house is to have useless citizens, how likely people are to get ailments, to even how much or little choices will impact stat growth. It’s an aspect of the game that I never could figure out how to get around.
I have said before many times on this blog and will say again, I don’t mind challenging games, what I mind is when a game is challenging, and I feel like I have little to nothing to counter there. There is some skill involved, like learning how and when to push stat loss, but in the end, randomness will always play a factor in how far you get.
This doesn’t make me hate the game, far from it, but it does keep me in a state of frustration with it. Reaching the end even once, let alone all the times you need for all the endings, can feel like a herculean effort when one lousy season of RNG can completely wipe the good progress you’ve made.
Still, the game is fun as far as management games go. If you don’t like that sort of game this is unlikely to change your mind, if you do, then it can be rather entertaining. The look of it seems a bit jarring at first, but eventually, it starts to feel right for the game. There are also different pallets to choose from if the standard is too bright.
The story is dark as is everything you have to do in the game. If you don’t like the creepy and horrific, you will probably want to stay away. There is also a decent amount of replayability in that there are different endings. However, going through the same thing over and over will eventually growing tiring for some people, especially as failure happens frequently.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of caveats for whether or not I would recommend this game. Not because it’s terrible, but because it’s really not for everybody. I think for those that enjoy darker games and management ones they will find something rather interesting here. For me, it’s not a favorite game, but it’s pretty high on my list and has become a bit of an obsession.
What do you think? Have you played The Shrouded Isle yet? Did you enjoy it? Did you have more luck than I did and found it easier?