These Doomed Isles? What a dramatic title. There’s no hope, and we’re all, theoretically doomed? Kind of. This rogue-like from Triplevision Games and Fireshine Games (Hokko Life, Thymesia) isn’t entirely without hope, but you’ll be praying to the gods for support. Shame you’re the god in question.
Once unlocked, there are three gods to choose from, each with unique abilities/starting buffs. It’s no Black & White, but it’s still a hands-on role, as you’re nothing without your followers. Your many duties include establishing a settlement, expanding it, and defending it from invaders.
These Doomed Isles opt for a pixel art-like aesthetic with a top-down viewpoint. The level of depth is a mixed bag as, on the surface, the structures and units are straightforward enough, but the mechanics can take a bit of time to work out. Or perhaps that’s for numpties like me, as it took me a few playthroughs to realise I could shuffle my decks. For a fee, of course.
These Doomed Isles Early Access
Like any self-infatuated deity, our humble beginnings originate around a place of worship. Followers will join ‘your cause’ based on how you expand, what facilities you have, and fundamental factors like, “Will this god provide enough food?” and whether the population is happy. That’s key.
Followers won’t hang around long (or may even be killed off), and one of the immediate structures that need to be built are the cabins, providing them with a place to stay. Building these close to your worship area gives an added boost to your faith – a currency of sorts used to influence your deck. The other currency is a common one: gold.
This is where I cocked up in These Doomed Isles Early Access, as I didn’t realise how quickly it depletes. Gold, food and other factors can be earned based on the structures you build, where you place them, and how you manage them by assigning workers. Time is of the essence, and after each key harvest, you can buy new cards for your deck. I didn’t realise that you can spend some gold to replenish the options, but this obviously digs deep into your pockets, so you’ll need a good income to survive.
Money, Money, Money
Did I mention that These Doomed Isles is a deck-building game plus a city builder? Of course, I didn’t. These cards are randomly offered, and as long as you have the dough, you can buy new cards but must invest in new cards; otherwise, you’ll be skipping turns and essentially missing the objectives (build x number of structures, have so many followers, and so on).
While you’re strategically placing gold mines and farms in the most resourceful locations and keeping your followers sweet, there will be a neverending swarm of invaders. Early encounters are manageable, beginning with Vikings, then promptly switching to banshees and the like. The combat is automated once you assign your defences. Here’s one of my beefs.
There are several towers you can build in These Doomed Isles Early Access that serve as your defences, but they have to be operated by your followers. Though there’s plenty of time to re-assign workers, you have to manually switch back and forth with their roles, i.e. moving those in a farm to a tower, then after the invasion has finished, switch them back. For some reason, you can’t keep them in a tower for the duration (quite possibly because there aren’t enough followers at the start?). Once you can add foot patrols like spearmen, archers, and lob meteors at any wrong ‘uns, combat tends to be pretty methodical.
There’s something about These Doomed Isles that feels like an Early Access – duh – it is one. However, this game offers so many cards that it’s doubtful to get the same decks per run. XP accumulation helps with replayability, as do the leaderboards when comparing scores with your mates or frenemies.
The presentation didn’t do much for me, and while it’s very functional, I didn’t like how you expanded your isles with random Tetris-like blocks. Symmetrical fans, perfectionists and those with too much time on their hands might be mildly annoyed with this element, but for the record, I’d recommend trying the demo if it’s still up at the time of this article.