sat 24/10/2020

Shelter 2 | reviews, news & interviews

Shelter 2

Shelter 2

Might and Delight invite you to take a walk on the wild side

'Shelter 2': wild wanderings with your cubs in tow

If you thought life as a badger was tough, life as a lynx is even harder than you can imagine, which is why Might and Delight have imagined it perfectly for you. With their uniquely pixelated designs they have rendered an open world savannah for your character, a female lynx, to roam freely in her search for prey and shelter. It’s an idyllic set-up; in the gloriously realised landscapes, and to the atmospheric and unassuming music of Retro Family, your big-cat has the whole world to herself.

If you thought life as a badger was tough, life as a lynx is even harder than you can imagine, which is why Might and Delight have imagined it perfectly for you. With their uniquely pixelated designs they have rendered an open world savannah for your character, a female lynx, to roam freely in her search for prey and shelter. It’s an idyllic set-up; in the gloriously realised landscapes, and to the atmospheric and unassuming music of Retro Family, your big-cat has the whole world to herself. Without a care in the world she can hunt and explore, draining and replenishing her stamina levels willy-nilly as food is relatively easy to find once you’ve learned the proper skills.

But there’s something about this expansive freedom to solitarily roam that begins to haunt you. Like several games before it, I’m thinking particularly of That Game Company’s astonishing mini-masterpiece Journey, but also games like FarCry 3 and Fable, Shelter gives you an enormous open world to explore, but then also torments you with the prospect of going it alone. What’s the point in all this freedom, if there’s no one else around to enjoy it with?

constellationsLike the whistling in Journey, you’re given the ability to communicate in various groaning roars, but listening to your majestic animal calling into the empty wilderness, you begin to pine for company.

Lucky thing you’re heavily pregnant then.

And whereas Journey gives you the option to play alone or with a partner, like Fable 2, this game gives you animal companions whether you want them or not. Before you know it you’re lumbered with four adorable and hungry bundles of infuriating joy. And man are these kittens needy! If you wanted answers to your cat-calls, then these guys never shut up! Unless they die. And they find this extraordinarily easy to do.

With four mouths to feed as well as your own, and the runts of the litter beginning to flag, you find yourself draining your precious stamina just trying to find the little blighters, let alone feed and water them. You can pick the straggler up by the scruff and carry it until you can spy food, but even then you’re seriously considering eating it yourself, or feeding it to its yowling brethren.

Pixellated bundles of bastardNow that you have a family to take care of, the gaming elements kick in. More than in the first game, there are now items to find, regions to explore and new prey to tackle as the seasons change around you (albeit rather abruptly and usually with an ungainly inter-title which Might and Delight really ought to reconsider). As nature takes its course and the prey becomes bigger, the predators bolder, so too do your cubs (if you’re in any way lucky or indeed skilled enough at parenting to keep any of them alive). And eventually the prospect of being left alone again rears its head.

There is less of a substantial sense of threat in this game than in the last (perhaps because you are now an alpha predator and not a badger) so really the only thing occupying your attention is your fluffy brats. This is a bit of a shame as I think that with a new game they could have introduced different areas for different prey and predators so you could dip in and out (a bit Far Cry 3-ish?). This is only a small game though and we can't ask for the moon when they've already given us the world. Shelter 2 is one of those games that plunges you into such a convincing world that you can easily lose yourself in it.

Hungry bundles of infuriating joy...

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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