Who hasn’t watched the Wicker Man and wanted to run their own island of isolated cultists and do blood sacrifices? Well now you are in luck because the fine folks at Kilfox Games has their own Summerisle Simulator that they call The Shrouded Isle. You are the cult leader of a village of cultists who believe the outside world is long dead. The cult is twiddling their thumbs waiting for the return of their Dark God who is supposed to show up in three years. Quick, everyone! Look busy!
Sadly, being a cult leader isn’t all about assembling a harem of love slaves and giving cool sermons. No, your little village needs to be kept in line. You have to make sure they stay ignorant or else they might figure out the rest of the world is doing fine. You have to keep their fervor up or else they might not want to sacrifice someone every season. You have to keep them disciplined or else they might skip prayer services to eat pastries or sit on comfy chairs. You have to keep their pertinence up to make sure sinners are adequately punished. Finally, you have to keep everyone obedient or else they might start making decisions on their own and you do not want that. Let any of those qualities get too low, and the village decides they need a new cult leader and the only retirement plan around here involves a torch or a knife.
But don’t worry, the five largest families in the village are here to help. Each house will happily lend you an advisor for the season. Now, these advisors might have secret vices like a thirst for knowledge or Dark God forbid, a sense of mercy, but they also might have some virtues like pyromania and a willingness to believe anything. You start by knowing very little about your advisors except what the family is willing to tell you so you have to learn their virtues and vices through making them work.
At the end of the season, someone needs to get sacrificed to keep the Dark God happy. Remember those advisors you get from the five families? Those are the sacrifice candidates and you get to pick one. It is a great way to punish that asshole in charge of keeping every ignorant who keeps suggesting we start a public library. You get a neat sacrifice scene with varying amounts of blood. Good times!
Except, those five families get a little cranky if you sacrifice one of them. If the sacrifice is a sinner, then tough shit but if you are sacrificing someone for petty reasons or you sacrificed someone from their family last year, the family might get pissed enough to overthrow you. Sometimes they get pisses if you just don’t give them enough responsibilities. The families will find a lot of reasons to get pissed.
Which means you spend a lot of time in the game keeping your village controlled, looking for major sinners to sacrifice while still balancing the politics of the five families. Oh, and did I mention that the Dark God speaks to you in dreams and will make requests? He might decide that he wants twice as much ignorance as before, or maybe he really wants you to kill the Liar in your town and you need to go find out them.
This leads to wonderful situations like finding the Liar that the Dark God wants dead but sadly you killed someone from the Liar’s family last season so you have to hold off on your Dark God’s request and kill someone else, like Bob who didn’t do anything wrong except his family likes you a lot so you feel safe killing one of them for shit reasons. Poor Bob! He didn’t do anything except be in the wrong council at the wrong season. Politics man, it will kill you even in a cult.
This is a neat game about choices and sacrifices. It requires a certain dark humor but it is a lot of fun. The art is minimal and creepy and the music is perfect. You spend a lot of time investigating your cult members which turns it into a deductive game. I liked it a lot and you may too.