Shelter PreviewJuly 28, 2013
We were given access to a preview build of Might & Delight’s upcoming survival game Shelter, a stylized, artistic game starring a badger.
Shelter is a new, upcoming game by Might & Delight, the makers of last year’s Steam and PlayStation Network title Pid. It’s a simple game, where you take on the parental role of a badger, protecting your children. In the wilderness, you are tasked with feeding them and ensuring their survival. The main goal is straightforward, and the controls are very responsive. The world of Shelter has a very stylized look to it, with blocky models and watercolor/ pastel textures all around.
In Shelter, you take on the role of a badger in charge of five children. You and your young will need to fight for survival, hunting frogs, foxes, and gathering apples and plants. Apparently badgers have a well-rounded diet. There are no cut scenes, no narration. Just you and the world to explore.
The gameplay in Shelter isn’t convoluted or complex, and gets straight to the point. As a small animal, your character can walk/ sprint, bash into trees, pull vegetables from the ground, and catch small animals. You begin Shelter in a small burrow. The main goal is to venture out, and gather food for your babies. They start off very small. You have the ability to gather carrots, radishes, and eventually frogs and foxes. You’re a hunter!
In the beginning, you gather food that doesn’t move. Then you work up to frogs which, aside from hopping, pose no challenge at all. Soon you encounter a fox. In order to catch a fox, you need to stalk them. There are mounds of grass that you can hide in (think Metal Gear Solid 3), and as long as you’re concealed, you can sneak up on it. But, if it hears you, or you make any sound, the fox will run, and there’s no way you’ll be able to catch it- they are way faster than you are. It gave me a sense of stealth that I rarely experience in other games.
Eventually, you go from being the hunter to being hunted. In an open field, there’s an artistic shadow of a bird. If you’re in clear view, it’ll fly down and eat you or your babies. It was genuinely terrifying, and I was on edge as I tried to make it through the field without getting caught. I’d turn my camera, just to make sure they were okay.
Behind the simplicity lies a very interesting game. Of course, this is an early preview build, but even so, it works. The simplicity gives the game a unique feel. It gives the sense of being in a toy box, and the world around you feels like it is built in a child’s imagination. However, without any cut scenes or spoken narrative, Shelter is a powerful game. In the simplicity of trying to keep the babies alive, I was terrified as giant birds, fire, creatures in the dark, and river waves threatened to take them away. There were times when I was seriously terrified for the safety of the badger’s children.
The music, provided by Retro Family, sets the mood perfectly. The atmosphere is set at the game’s outset – and when the first bird of prey appears, and the music intensifies… it’s horrifying. In a good way. It gets your blood pumping, and your mission to ensure the safety of those five little badgers makes it intense. You want to protect them. During one play through, one of my babies were taken, and it broke my heart.
Shelter is so simple, so straight to the point, but it does everything right. And if this is just a prototype for the actual game, I’m very excited to see what the finished version looks like! Because to me, the game is wonderful, and very worth playing in its current state. The only issue I see, and I know this is an early build, is more vibrancy in the colors – the game looks a bit washed out, almost as if there’s a heavy fog permeating the atmosphere. Aside from that, I look forward to the official release in August. Shelter has been greenlit by the Steam community, and you can check out its page on the store here.