A surreal nightmare dungeon
I became interested in The Isle when I came across praise for it in two unrelated instances. Apparently it's a bit of a modern classic. I found it fresh, extremely imaginative, and yet not without issues. Here are some notes:
The maps suck. Plain and simple. They're intended to be clear flowcharts, but aren't really, as it's pretty random if the lines are included in the rooms or not. The "map" of the Isle itself on page 5 is so bad I have almost no idea what I'm looking at. The maps are obviously the weakest point of The Isle.
The atmosphere leans heavily into body horror and just old school Hellraiser style guts'n'gore. At times it just goes overboard in pointless horror film visuals, and seems intended to numb players rather than scare or disgust.
There's no direction, no hooks. Apparently the players must come to The Isle dead set on finding something beneath the monastery, because no reason is given. The story clearly assumes the party just tears up the floor and breaks the seal. Why?
There's a system assumed. It looks vaguely like OD&D, but there are some unknown abbreviations. AV is Attack Value? Nothing is explained.
With these cons in mind, this is otherwise an excellent little adventure. The way the room descriptions are laid out are nearly perfect. I like how each room has a "pre-description", but I think the style introduced here could be done better.
All in all, a positive 3.5/5 stars.
Asherett | Norway | May 2023