REVIEW / These Doomed Isles (PC)

God sims were a pretty big thing at one stage. Who wouldn’t want to be an all-powerful deity guiding their followers into the future? If they aren’t doing as they’re told you just do a bit of smiting and everything goes back to being right with the world. The earliest of these titles that I can remember was Populous, a hugely difficult title that’s older than some of you out there. If you can think of anything earlier I’m sure you’ll have no problem correcting me. As per usual all this waffling is bringing me to a point. Today’s game is These Doomed Isles. I’ve been playing this hybrid god sim on PC and in all honesty, it’s not bad.

What happens when gods get bored? It would appear they play cards. These Doomed Isles is a hybrid builder/CCG/Roguelike that sees you taking the role of one of three unlockable gods as they populate a chain of islands with their followers. The celestial cards they play represent buildings, spells, followers, and wonders, (amongst other things,) that will come to life when they’re activated. As with any other resource management game these cards cost various different amounts to play and you’ll need to do the resource juggling act to make sure you can get as much out of your deck as possible. This juggling act comes two-fold in These Doomed Isles though. On one hand, you’ll need to make sure you have the Wood, Stone, and Iron to erect buildings but then on the other, you’ll need to make sure you have enough food, faith, and happiness to keep your followers satisfied. Gold is also incredibly important because, well it’s gold.

Your Shine. If this get’s destroyed it’s game over so defend it with your life.

The god sim element of this game means that you aren’t just building functioning buildings. You’ll have to man these buildings with your followers and ensure they’re housed, well-fed, and happy. If they start leaving you won’t be able to keep all of your buildings operational which could mean you taking a pretty nasty hit to your resource reserves. You need followers to supply you with faith as well. Quite a lot of your godly abilities are built around faith and a lack of it can really limit your celestial clout. Any lack of anything is obviously a bad thing so there’s a lot to think about here.

You’ll be able to unlock more gods but The Lord of the Wild is your starting point. He’s the perfect way to learn the ropes too.

I’ve just mentioned the basics, those are the things that are the bare minimum to keep you functioning during your run. These Doomed Isles plays out in cycles of four turns. Each of these represents a season and culminates in a harvest. This period allows you to spend resources to buy more cards and expand accordingly. You’ll want lots of gold here so you can stuff your deck as much as possible. Some cards have multiple uses but the majority only have one so it’s important to keep topping yourself up. Aside from this, your settlement will get attacked periodically by waves of enemies which will need to be dealt with. This can be done via various buildings, conscripted troops, or godly wrath. They need to be taken care of quickly, though or you’ll start losing buildings, if you lose your god’s shrine in the process it’s game over.

A big part of These Doomed Isles comes in its title. Amongst the many cards you’ll acquire as you go are land cards. These are literal blocks of land that you’ll use to link islands together. These islands can provide you with more resources, food, or treasure. They’ll also provide you with an event that’s just as likely to be harmful as it is useful. Negative events are more likely to come late in the game so this is worth noting if you’re planning on expanding.

Prayers are your objectives. You’ll get three of these each game and will need to complete the objectives before you can face your doom and with a bit of luck win.

So, how do you with this game of gods? Well, you’ll have to answer the prayers of your followers. At the beginning of each game, you’re given three objectives and a number of turns in which they need to be completed. These range from keeping your people happy for a number of turns to fending off enemy attacks and building wonders. Once you’ve completed all of these objectives you’ll need to take out a powerful boss and only then can you consider your run complete. This means that you’ll need to make sure you’re equipped for that final battle as just answering prayers isn’t going to cut it. If you succeed you can continue your run as long as you like or end it. After this, you’ll level your god, unlock new cards or gods, and get ready to jump back in for another go. Once you’ve gotten to grips with things you can also start choosing ascension levels which alter the difficulty of your next run. I’d learn the basics first though before you start experimenting.

Linking the many islands on the map is the name of the game but you’ll need to be strategic when doing this. You’ll get some pretty nice rewards but some of the events that also occur are less friendly.

These Doomed Isles have a bit more of a board game feel than I’d personally like. The thing that makes a good roguelike really special is that you keep wanting to go back for more on account of there always being something new to find and unlock or more importantly a storyline that unfolds across multiple runs. Although there are definitely new cards to be had and gods to find there isn’t enough changing gameplay for me personally to keep being drawn back in. This is the sort of game that’s fine for a few runs and will be a lot of fun in short bursts, it’s not one that I’d really rack up the hours across the long term though.

My other gripe with These Doomed Isles is that the pacing can feel a little bit off depending on the cards you start with. As this is a building game you’re going to want a good foundation to work from and if you start badly, (not specifically the fault of the game, it’s an RNG issue,) it can set you off on a bad foot. You need gold to buy more cards and on some runs you’ll be fortunate enough to have an abundance of this resource in the early game. This means that you can rectify any poor initial draws quite quickly if you don’t have a good amount of gold though it can be a bit more of a slog to get going. When you do and when you get into the swing of things, though, each game feels quite similar in its progression regardless of the fact that you’re playing with different cards each time. If you have the resources you’re pretty much set. Do be aware you’re going to have that boss battle at the end though, if you don’t plan correctly you might find yourself in trouble.

As you’d expect enemies attack in different ways. None of them like being hit by meteors though.

All in all These Doomed Isles is a great game for those of you who like to play in a slightly more enclosed environment where every run has a beginning, middle, and assuming you’re playing well an end. If you’re looking for all the lovely planning that comes between runs with interconnected plot and new characters to find as you, (outside the unlockable gods,) you might not find the kind of depth you’re after here.  Regardless of this, These Doomed Isles is still a fun title and a great game for CCG fans and those roguelike fans who are looking for something new to play with that won’t necessarily consume their entire lives.

Godly fun
  • 8/10
    Look and feel - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Replayability - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Challenge - 7/10
  • 6/10
    Story - 6/10
  • 8/10
    Value for money - 8/10

A CCG with a twist

These Doomed Isles is the sort of game that’s a lot of fun in short bursts. When you’ve picked up the rules you can play a full game in an hour or two and have a very good time doing it. I’m not sure that there’s the depth that some roguelike fans have come to expect with regard to unlockable storylines and all the stuff that happens between runs, (think games like Hades,) but for those of you looking for more of a pick-up-and-play approach or new players to the roguelike genre, this is a nice way to go.