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Shelter

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By BloodyFanGirl14-08-2013
Bobfish (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Shelter

The Defence

Developer:
Might and Delight
Publisher:
Might and Delight
Genre:
Adventure, Indie
Release Date:
TBA

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD Radeon HD 2880
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
2 GB
DirectX:
9.0c, 10

Shelter is the latest project from Swedish developer Might & Delight. The game puts players in the paws of a mother badger as she tries to protect her cubs from the dangers all around on their journey to find Shelter. The game has piqued the interest of artsy fartsy types such as myself and Pixel Judge were lucky enough to get their hands on a preview copy of the game.

The first thought that struck me once I’d booted up Shelter was something along the lines of “IT’S SO PRETTY!” Well, tell a lie, my first thought was actually “Why is there a white screen just sat staring at me? I hope this isn’t part of the final build...”

After spending an uncomfortable amount of time staring at a blank screen, the game finally loaded. The start menu begins the game as it means to go on with beautiful nature imagery and a stripped down interface. Gameplay is simplified to give as much focus as possible to the emotions the developers want you to feel, whilst guiding mummy badger and her cubs.

Moments before disaster.

Moments before disaster.

The tutorial is very bare bones with minimal on-screen instructions. Thankfully Shelter’s controls are fairly basic so minimal instruction is more than enough. Mummy badger can walk, charge, bark and carry food in her mouth to her cubs. Each of these actions is absolutely vital in your quest to keep your cubs alive. Walking should be an obvious one but you’ll need to charge at trees to make them drop their precious food, you’ll then need to carry it to one of your hungry cubs and you’ll also need to bark to ward off predators. However you can also defend yourself with the context specific version of bark that lets you swiftly end the lives of smaller animals, the carcasses of which your cubs can also feast upon. It’s practically nature in motion.

Of course it’s not just smaller forest critters that can meet their end by your maw. Your own cubs can be literally snatched from you by bigger beasts. The nature around you may giveth but it can also taketh away. One of the earlier levels centres around this in the form of the constant overhead threat of a bird of prey. This was how I lost my first cub and its cries as it was carried away felt like a punch in the gut. Gameplay is stripped back and extremely effective, with emotional attachment amplified.

Mummy badger smells something she doesn't like.

Mummy badger smells something she doesn't like.

If I remember correctly that particular cub had starved shortly before being carried off. As previously mentioned you need to feed your cubs but rather than communicate to the player the cubs’ hunger via a meter that would clutter the screen, the developers have chosen to show your babies’ starvation another way - the cubs change colour. The hungrier your cubs get, the greyer their fur will appear until they turn to stone. A starved cub is not necessarily a dead cub as you can revive them by carrying food to them. Your cubs are frequently hungry and with five of them to keep track of it can be difficult to make sure all of them get enough nourishment.

And it’s not just starvation and other animals you have to worry about when protecting your brood. You also have environmental hazards to contend with too. From forest fires to floods and rushing tides, your surroundings may be beautiful but it could very well be your cubs’ undoing.

Conversely, mummy badger is nigh on invulnerable. She doesn’t need to eat, nor can predators harm her (or even pay much attention to her unless she barks at them) and she can take the brunt of a large wave and merely shake it off afterwards. Your cubs cannot do this.

Down to one cub.

Down to one cub.

What I saw in the preview looked incredibly polished and impressive. The environments are gorgeous, the sound design subtle but fitting, the devastation of losing a cub unmitigated. I saw a diverse array of environments to traverse and hazards to avoid and I can’t wait to see what the final build adds.

Shelter is shaping up to be a great game with simple but effective mechanics and story. You’ll be able to experience the quest for Shelter yourself later this year.

Comments (3)
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Posts: 3290

It does seem that way from still images, but when everything is in motion it suddenly becomes a lot more fluid. It's...it's like an unnatural order, if you know what I mean? Makes everything feel like being out in the wild, without the cognition of the Human mind. Everything is more intuitive than reasoned out logically. It's hard to describe, but it just clicks when you start playing

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Posts: 596

While I haven't played the game, I must say from the screenshots the game still just looks like a visual mess. I don't understand why the terrain and all the textures all have patterns, that must be really hard to look at and distinguish different features from each other.

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Posts: 3290

Cannot agree more. It's an absolutely beautiful game