I can’t decide whether to murder Yaromir Efferson. On the surface he’s a model zealot, never sparing the lash in pursuit of sin, but I look at how repulsively literate our village has become under his eye, and I worry that beneath that righteous facade lurks the mind of a Scholar. Were this any other season he’d make a perfect sacrifice, but I butchered a member of the Efferson clan in the spring and they’re threatening revolt if I do it again too soon. Ludmila Kegnni would be a solid alternative – she’s been stealing from the altar fund, a capital offence, but on the other hand her Sadistic tendencies are an inspiration to us all. Who else, then? Ah yes, young Marya Cadwell. Of course, you could argue that being a Teenager isn’t all that grave a sin, but fewer adolescents on our streets equals a more biddable populace. Besides, the Cadwells are pretty well-disposed toward me right now. Let’s see how deep their loyalty goes.
These are the kinds of ghastly decisions you’ll make in The Shrouded Isle, a well-wrought Lovecraftian management sim distinguished by some beautifully emaciated monochrome art, which puts you in charge of a village cult just three years (twelve turns, or around an hour of play) from the apocalypse. Your mission, should you be morbid enough to accept it, is to grease the wheels of annihilation by sacrificing townsfolk to Chernobog, an undersea deity named for the God of the Night in Slavic myth.
Every season, you’ll pick five advisors from the game’s five clans – each a procedurally generated morass of virtues and vices drawn from a list of around 60 traits. Then you’ll put up to three of these advisers to work, month to month, in order to raise (or, if you choose badly, lower) your community’s levels of Ignorance, Fervor, Discipline, Penitence and Obedience. Neglect any facet of the community’s spiritual life for too long and it’s game over. Come season’s end, you’ll select an advisor to offer up to the god beneath the waves, permanently reducing the village headcount and in all probability, rousing the wrath of their kin. Allow a clan to feel Rebellious for more than a turn, and they’ll take up arms against you. Think of it as a bit like carefully chiselling away the cliff you’re standing on, stone by stone, root by root, till the ocean itself sees fit to sweep you away.