Everyone’s a rotter in The Shrouded Isle. You especially. As the high priest in a small island town, you must appease the slumbering god beneath the waves by sacrificing one villager every season. For the past 495 years, everything’s been going swimmingly. But now there’s talk of your monstrous lord rising again in five years time. Will you be able to work with the town’s five noble families and root out all those pesky sinners before He arrives and be judged a worthy disciple? That’s what this cult sim is all about.
And lemme tell ya. It’s a hard job being a sacrifical priest. Of all the runs I’ve attempted so far, I’ve maybe only made it two years before I annoy one of the five houses so much that they’ve openly rebelled against me and bumped me off in the night. There’s a lot to manage. At the start of each three-month-long season, you must pick five advisors (one from each house) to help you do your bidding. Unfortunately, it’s one of those five who gets the chop at the end of said season. Needless to say, one house isn’t going to be very happy with you at the end of it. You can help mitigate their wrath by uncovering evidence of their misdeeds and exposing them as a bad ‘un, but sacrifice one too many from the same house in a row and you’ll still find yourself on a fast track to the gallows.
Each house governs one of the town’s key stats, too. You want to keep your villagers ‘ignorant’, so they don’t start doubting your monstrous lord; they must be ‘penitent’ if they transgress; they must be ‘obedient’; their ‘fervour’ must be ferocious; and most of all, they must be ‘disciplined’ in keeping up their faith. Selecting one of these advisors will give their house’s respective stat a nice boost that month, but you’ve also got to take their own individual virtues and vices into account as well, as these will affect your town’s other stats. After all, if the villagers see your head book burner slacking off because they’re secretly reading said books on the sly to become a ‘scholar’, say, or your main monument builder’s spending too much time with the ladies because they’re a ‘flirt’, that’s going to reflect poorly on you.
You can inquire into the personalities of each household member to get a better sense of what horrible turds you’re going to be dealing with each season, but this, too, will come at the cost of the nobles’ good will toward you. It’s a delicate balancing act, but goodness, at least its striking colour palette means it’s always a joy to look at, despite the grim subject matter. It’s intensely atmospheric, too, and the accompanying music is wonderfully sinister and foreboding, the trills of its harpsichord and ominous bell tolls fitting perfectly with the pseudo-Victorian trappings of this unholy cult ’em up.