[PS4 Review] Sheltered
Unicube took their game to Kickstarter in the summer of 2014 with a goal of £15,000 to complete the development, and ended up securing an extra £15,000 and smashed through all of their stretch goals, including one for releasing the game on PS4. Over the course of the development of Sheltered, Unicube formed a partnership with Team17 as their publisher. Come read what we thought of the game!
• Family comes first: Keep your family alive and protect them from the ravages of the harsh post-apocalyptic world
• Pets: Your pet is family too. Choose between the dog, cat, fish, snake or horse
• Make the shelter a home: Maintain your shelter – keep it secure, habitable and make sure that the family have enough resources to survive. Protect your shelter from hazards and infiltration!
• Crafting system: Create comforts for your family’s shelter and weapons for combat
• Customisation: Your family is unique to you; you decide their gender, names and their appearance
• Exploration: Send out your family to explore and gather resources for everyday living and crafting
• Recruitment system: Recruit outsiders with different personalities, integrate them into your shelter life and earn their loyalty
• RPG mechanics: As your family develop, their stats will adapt with an evolving experience and trauma system. Attributes, strengths and weaknesses will dynamically change based on your choices
• Dynamic encounter system: Your family will encounter various threats including roaming factions and feral beasts
• Turn-based combat: For those that cannot be reasoned with, violence can be used as a last resort. Your family may depend on it
• Vehicles: Make exploration quicker and safer
• Bloodlines: Extend your family lineage
Sheltered is a 2D resource management and survival game so, as you can imagine, the goal of the game is to ensure the survival of your family after a nuclear war which turned the world into a wasteland. You have to ensure your family can survive for as many days as possible. To begin, you can name the parents and customize their look right down to their skin color and do the same with the two kids – you can change their genders and personality traits too. You can also choose a pet cat, dog, fish or horse. I’m a dog person, so I got the dog.
The most important aspects of survival games like this and many others before it are food and water which you will need to scavenge for. When the need arises, your family will also need to get some sleep in order to stay well and healthy. The family has a stress meter, so you need to keep close tabs on their stress levels and make sure they don’t work too much.
Also, there are other things you need to look after on a regular basis such as maintaining or fixing the generators that provide electricity, maintaining the air clean and having clean water to drink. But as things go wrong, and believe me things ARE going to go wrong, you’ll need to adjust your strategy on the fly because staying alive and healthy requires a lot of work in this new world.
Each member of your family has a bar for every need: hunger, sleep, thirst, stress and so on. None of those bars must deplete, so you have to make sure they eat, sleep, and drink when necessary, along with maintaining and upgrading your shelter to the best of your playing skills. If death occurs, it is permanent, and you will have to restart your game again from scratch, so in that sense, yes, this is very much a roguelike. It is heart wrenching to see a family you have nurtured lose their lives in horrible circumstances, even if you tried doing everything you could to save them. A game like this can tug at your heartstrings.
Sheltered may appear as nothing but another resource management sim, but once you get to know the family you control you will get attached to them and get a sense of being a part of said family, and when they are gone, sadness ensues. Powerful feelings for a small indie title!
As you go about your daily activities, your household maintenance will start to fall apart, so you’ll need to scavenge resources to fix equipment and to look for food supplies to keep you alive. Going outside is very dangerous since the air is not clean and the rain is toxic, so it is very fortunate that you at leats have a hazmat suit to protect you when you need to go out. You can send two members of your family on an expedition trip and travel to places of interest on your map, setting up waypoints. The remaining two will stay at the shelter and go about doing their normal activities, and radio transmissions will periodically come in from the two members on the outside asking for permission to loot buildings they find or to talk to NPCs they have encountered.
If they do talk to NPC’s, then the view will change from the shelter to the wasteland. Communication takes form in a turn based battle style format. During conversations, you can choose to trade, flee, bully or recruit them. If you select to bully them, you could initiate a turn-based battle. It is a simple of combat system, but it works.
You also have a crafting system with four tiers of crafting. Tier 1 lets you craft simple things like buckets or a brush, while higher tiers will require more complex materials but will make it worth your while. If you recruit more people for the purpose of increasing manpower you can upgrade your shelter to make it bigger, so more people can live there. You can also upgrade the various things around your shelter too, like the generator for example. There is a lot to do in such a small game!
Sheltered is a fun release with a lot of objectives and a great 16-bit graphical style that is quite charming. The crafting is deep, and I quite liked the map and exploring each location. It is an excellent indie release that you have to play on PlayStation 4 today!