We game reviewers are very, very fortunate: we’re constantly asked by developers and publishers to play their games and give our opinions so that our readers can, hopefully, make a decision on whether or not to buy the games. These games are, for the most part, labors of love for the people who made them: they may have spent months or years developing this thing. This is particularly true of indie games, which is why I have such a fondness for them. As a smaller outlet, however, not every developer and publisher reaches out to us. That’s absolutely as it should be, as there’s a limited time and a limited amount of promo codes to distribute. But every now and then, a title comes along that sparks such curiosity in me that I reach out to the developers and say “Hey, that thing you made looks great. Can I have a go?” That happened with “The Shrouded Isle” by Kitfox Games. And boy, am I glad I got to play this thing. So, let’s dive into this review to learn more about what makes this game a standout for me on the Switch (or, alternatively, you can also learn more about rivers casino).
The premise of the game is what drew me to it: you are in charge of an island (as the title suggests), and this particular island is devoted to a cult. It is your duty to select representatives from every major house to join you in the counsel every season, which dictates the activities to be executed (he) in order to keep the general population under your thumb. At the end of the season, you must sacrifice one of the chosen five, and deal with the consequences.
It is a dark game, from whichever angle you look at it. Every member of each family has two traits, one beneficial and one heretical. You must, through inquiries, discover the traits of each member of each family, and balance your seasonal council accordingly. And balance is the name of the game here: you need to make sure all five virtues of the population (Ignorance, Obedience, Penitence, etc) are within the acceptable threshold, while also keeping the five families from revolting. If you execute a virtuous member of the family, that family gets angry. If you choose to sacrifice members from the same family twice in a row, they get angry… and you don’t want a revolt, do you? So… will you sacrifice the klepto and make the easy choice? Or has this family already offered a sacrifice last season?
The whole game is text-based, so if you don’t like reading, this is not the game for you. I know my wife, who is a huge fan of arcade-type games like Tetris and Overcooked would not enjoy this at all (despite her interest in the subject matter). But if you’re into text adventures, and particularly if you’re into the cult narrative, this will be quite up your alley.
It’s important to note that you must survive 5 years (with 4 seasons each) in order to reach… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but that’s the main objective of the game. Also of note is the fact that the family members and their traits are randomly generated, so the replay value is potentially endless (not to mention necessary, as you will die *a lot* trying to reach those 5 years). It’s also not a game that holds your hand: you must figure stuff out as you go along. It is not, however, obtuse (a problem that another game I’m currently playing for review, “Cultist Simulator”, has). It is very much learnable, and does not feel overwhelming. It is also extremely well-paced; as the player, you discover new and new elements of gameplay and this granularity makes it easy to get better at the game with each playthrough.
If I had a complaint, it’d be about the presentation. While the default green-scale color scheme works well in docked mode, it was impossible to read the smaller text while playing in handheld mode. I found that changing to a different color scheme worked much better for me. Also, the music, sound effects and other bells and whistles are very minimally present, and I wish there was more to them. Particularly music, where I feel like some classical and baroque inspired tunes would have suited the game well.
Other than that, however, I loved my time with “The Shrouded Isle” and I can’t wait to get back into it to see what else I can uncover. I liked the experience, and I feel like it is very pick-up-and-go, a definite plus on a hybrid console like the Switch. Worth mentioning is the fact that the Switch version includes the Sunken Sins DLC, which allows you to have a tower in which you can submerge troublesome citizens (in a cage) in order to purify them. How lovely!
This is definitely a strong recommendation from me: if you’re even remotely into text adventures and the subject matter (cults, specifically), I have not found another game that does this genre justice as well as “The Shrouded Isle”. It is one of those games that, for me, showcases what’s possible in the fringes of indie. This game would have never been made by one of the bigger dev/pub houses. And yet… thanks to Kitfox games, I can get my cult on. And so can you. And you totally should.