Kitfox Games’s The Shrouded Isle is a stylish cult simulator, and its new DLC Sunken Sins adds even more eldritch horrors. It’s out now on PC as a free update.
Sunken Sins adds a few elements that improve the overall game. Though I enjoyed the original title, I found the gameplay to be somewhat tedious, particularly when it came to seeking information. As the leader of an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired cult, you must appease your dread god by encouraging “virtues” in your followers such as ignorance and absolute obedience each season. The god will also request specific sacrifices, such as asking that you execute the artist or “the cowardly one.”
Between seasons, you investigate the characters and decide who you’ll select based on which stats you need to beef up. Someone who’s curious, for instance, will drop your ignorance stat so you may opt to not use them — or you may choose them for the express purpose of sacrificing them. If any of your stats remain below the acceptable threshold for two seasons in a row, you’ll instantly lose the game.
Sunken Sins enables you to specifically investigate someone’s virtue or vice. Before, you could randomly discover one or the other. It also enables you to inquire after people’s vices mid-season to weed out folks who will harm your standing with the monstrous deity you worship.
“A common piece of feedback from players was that they wanted more depth and control over information discovery. To address this, we overhauled the inquiry mechanic,” said The Shrouded Isle’s lead designer Jongwoo Kim. “This change not only allows players to focus on their interests (e.g., discover a major sinner), but adds a risk-reward dynamic to inquiries because over-investigating a house will lead to its rebellion.”
The new mechanic doesn’t come without its costs. You also have to make sure the five houses under your control don’t rebel, which can happen when they become dissatisfied with your rule. This can happen if you investigate their members too often — or, as in the original game, if you sacrifice someone from their house two seasons in a row.
In addition to improving the inquiry system as well as adding little graphical tweaks like subtle animation, Kitfox has also added a new mechanic: The Tower. The villagers occasionally fall ill to a strange madness that pervades the town, and you must lock them up in the Tower for examination and purification. It can feel like a risky move, because then that particular character is out of commission for possibly several seasons.
And sometimes they’ll come back changed into eerie creatures called the Awoken.
“We decided early on that the ocean should be the unifying theme for the DLC,” said Kim. “Since we wanted a new structure in the village, we chose to add an abandoned tower that the player can use to ‘purify’ villagers with sea water. As for the Awoken, we wanted to depict the villagers transforming into fish-like monstrosities, similar to Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth.”
Kitfox doesn’t plan on creating any new DLC at the time, and developed Sunken Sins mainly based on player feedback. Kim says that the response has been much more positive than the team expected. And for those who haven’t had a chance to check out The Shrouded Isle, the DLC brings improvements that may make it easier to give it a try.