Sheltered is a game about three key things: Family, survival and the end of the world. On paper that’s a synopsis that can be placed on a wide range of games, but Sheltered is a bit different. It’s a game that sees you in charge of an apocalypse shelter, which you have to maintain, whilst also keeping your family alive.

Keeping your family alive is extremely important in the game. Although you will start to acquire new characters in your shelter, as the game progresses you have to make sure that your family survives. Once all of them have passed away that’s game over, no matter how many other people are in your shelter.

It’s an annoyance that the game doesn’t really add enough emotional weight to justify the decision of. There’s a journal that has the opinions of family members, but the writing never really makes you feel connected to the family. Even though you can customise how your family looks the pixel art style means that you’re fairly limited in what you can do. This means that, unlike something like The Sims, it’ll be unlikely you project yourself on to the avatar.

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It also doesn’t help that Sheltered is in the unfortunate situation of having various games appear of late that are similar to it, most notably Fallout Shelter and This War of Mine. Both games were released after Sheltered hit its Kickstarter goal in 2014, so it is definitely not cashing in to mimic them. It would be great to not compare the game to them, but it’s something that cannot be ignored.

Fallout Shelter is a far less clunky experience than Sheltered when it comes to setting up rooms and providing people with jobs. This War of Mine deals with the emotional weight of a terrible situation through its writing and its world building in a far superior way. Despite this negativity it is important to stress that Sheltered is still an enjoyable game. Its crafting system to build new items adds a purpose to raids on nearby buildings and the water system to explore means you won’t be rushing out without carefully planning first. If you’ve played Fallout Shelter and wanted to play something similar with a bit more depth, then Sheltered is definitely for you.

It’s also a great game for people that enjoy life simulation games and want a new twist. Although you won’t be able to create the perfect avatar you will be able to create one that looks cool enough. From there you can carry on with all of the mundane things life offers you, like fixing toilets and having a shower. If you really wanted to you could probably play through a fair bit of the game with minimal exploring and just focus on trading and looking after your family.

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The focus on your family will be what forces most your decisions. Even though one of your family members is great at exploring you’ll still be reluctant to send them. Just in case they don’t make it back. This is where you’ll start to recruit people in to your shelter. You can send out broadcasts to make people aware of your presence and they will appear, asking for access.

At first you’ll have no control over what they do, but once they settle in to the shelter after a few days you can make them do whatever you want. It’s a handy thing to implement early, as it means you can keep your family safe in the shelter whilst letting insignificant characters do the grunt work. On their travels they may run in to other people. Some will be hostile, whereas others will ask for items.

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It’s not just people that you can encounter and the battle system that pops up when a fight begins is like an old turn based RPG. It adds some variety to the game and you can just run away if you really want to, although there are rewards if you don’t. It’s a fairly standard battle system that is frustrating in the early going due to the lack of decent weapons. The fact that some of the weapons you can use are also needed for crafting items leads to an interesting conundrum.

Sheltered is an interesting take on the life simulation game. Its main issue is the fact that since it was first shown off various games have appeared that do too much of what it does, thus the wind has been taken from its sails. It does enough different, but it never fully escapes the shadow of comparison. The main audience will be those looking for a new life sim game to sink their teeth in to or a more advanced take on Fallout Shelter. There’s a lot to do in Sheltered, it just might not keep your attention long enough to see it all.



Author

Brett Claxton

I like video games. That's why I write about them. I've played them for years and in that time I've found a love for creepy horrors, indie darlings and the oddities that come out of Japan. Although my main purpose on the site is to write up news and reviews I'm also one of the main Let's Play video creators of the team (or, as I call them, Brett's Play videos). You can check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bretteh2