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publisher: Might and Delight
developer: Might and Delight
|ESRB rating: RP
release date: Aug 30, 13
|» All About Shelter on ActionTrip|
There are a lot of game reviewers out there faking orgasms whenever they talk about indie games, don't you agree? First they hype them in previews, then when the finished product turns out far less amazing than predicted, they praise it anyway to avoid looking stupid. "Sublime this" and "life changing” that. They always go gaga for non-violent games to appear respectable and read too much into touchy-feely games to appear profound. Then you end up buying some juvenile, zero budget crap that you stop playing after 15 minutes. Am I right or am I right? Now, then, bearing all that in mind, let’s find out what Shelter has going for it.
You play as badger mom (or mama badger or Big Mommy Badger or how ever you prefer to call it) and the game starts you in a hole in the ground. No tutorials, no key mapping, no nothing. It doesn't really matter because controls are mapped to ‘WASD' and the mouse sensitivity is perfect. Video options can be set in the menu. So, as I was saying, you wake up in a hole, surrounded by your five cubs, and there's an invisible wall preventing you from leaving. Soon you discover that you can pull a turnip out of the ground, and after feeding it to one of the little guys (he looks pale, meaning he's hungry), the invisible wall disappears and you can start your journey into the unknown.
Let's eat everyone. It's the badger way.
I'm bored. Why can't we get a TV and a console, mom?
The game is linear with the odd branching path. Your purpose is to forage for food and keep the baby badgers from being snatched by predators. That's it. The simplicity is refreshing, and so is the game's quietness. All interactions are done via left click and you can sprint by holding the ‘Shift’ key. Running headfirst into trees knocks apples off branches and you can also hunt for frogs, hedgehogs and foxes. The little badgers are absolutely adorable, from the way they move, to the sounds they make. I got attached to them in no time (You old, badger softie, you – Ed. Vader). I played the game for about 30 minutes but then something came up and I had to take a break.
My next session saw me staring at the menu screen, looking for a 'load' or 'continue' button. Surely the game auto-saved my progress at some point during that half hour. It's impossible it didn't save at least on exiting. Dear reader, it is possible. It’s a pity that my pointless existence doesn't revolve around video games. Not unlike mama badger, I too have responsibilities. Later on, I discovered that the game auto-saves after leaving each area, just like in Shadowrun Returns. Oh, joy of joys! Somebody has no problem wasting my time. I realize that this won't bother everyone, but it sure as heck bothers me. I don't feel good if I don't explore every nook and cranny, so the mere thought that I can lose progress if I don't hurry towards some distant checkpoint pretty much ruins my experience. No 2013 game should be without a sensible save feature, or at the very least, a warning that you'll lose everything if you dare to quit because of silly real world problems.
The game's washed out visuals are artistic and original, but they quickly become boring. I longed for color and I wanted the world around me to feel much more alive. I even dared to imagine Shelter with Crysis 3 graphics. Then I dreamt about a non-linear game that played like Day Z – something along the lines of a rogue-like survival game with badgers in a living, open environment (We all have weird fantasies. That’s Un’s – Ed. Vader). Maybe next time. In its current state, Shelter is little more than an extended demo with zero replay value. It's a unique and occasionally intense experience, but also a very brief one. The base idea has plenty of potential, although for some reason the developer built only the bare minimum around it. At least the game is cheap. If you're looking for something unusual, and temporarily weird but in semi-satisfying way, I recommend giving it a chance.
6.0 Above Average
Cute experimental game, nice atmosphere;
The save system sucks, the game can be finished in less than two hours and it gets slightly boring after a while.
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