Shelter 2 Review
In Might and Delight’s Shelter 2, you take on the parental role of a lynx. After escaping from a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, a path of starlight leads you back to a small den. Here, you find four newborn kittens and it’s up to you to ensure their survival. You begin by naming one or all of the four kittens. There are default names already in place if you choose to simply begin the adventure. Once named, you head out into the wilderness in search of prey to feed your starving babies.
You can rotate the camera, run, jump, and search the terrain. When you search, the screen darkens and any animal in the vicinity turns red. This allows you to find prey that would otherwise blend into the surroundings. As you approach you automatically slow down and begin to stalk them. The animals will quickly be alerted to your presence, regardless of how stealthy you try to be, and will run once they notice you’re there.
When you run, and give chase, it depletes a stamina meter in the lower left corner of the screen. You catch prey simply by running into them. This works for rabbits, frogs, and other smaller animals. For larger prey, like deer, you’ll need to jump before you can take them down. If the stamina bar happens to deplete before you capture the targeted animal, you will return to walking speed, and the stamina bar will slowly refill while you’re not running. You can also opt to eat your kill, which will refill the stamina bar a lot quicker. Eat or feed babies, that is the question?
Once you’ve returned a few carcasses to the den and allow your kittens to feed, they’ll eventually grow large enough to leave the safety of their home. Now, their lives are in your hands. Time will also pass as you move forward. Ice recedes, winter turns to spring, day becomes night, sun yields to rain, and you will watch your cubs grow, survive, or perish depending on where you go, what you hunt, and how you decide to explore this vast wilderness.
There’s inertia in your run cycle. Running straight ahead is easy enough, but when you decide to turn, or bank into an unsuspecting enemy, it’s hard to change direction. It gives your character a nice sense of weight, and makes catching prey difficult. It isn’t easy, but a successful kill is all the more satisfying.
The camera in Shelter 2 is locked into a low angle, just behind the hind quarters of the lynx. You can’t zoom in or out, or move above your character into god mode. You are at constant eye level of the lynx, keeping your perspective close to what you’d expect from a creature that is relatively low to the ground.
After you beat the game once, there’s a family tree that you can access at the main menu. It shows the name of the parent, and below are the kittens that died and survived. You can begin a new game with any of the surviving siblings, and begin again with their own litter of kittens, exploring and creating a whole new path.
I like the idea of naming your kittens in Shelter 2. It gives you a deeper sense of intimacy with them. Although, I would recommend not naming your babies after you or your family members. It makes for some heart breaking moments. I named mine after my wife and two children. Josh died first. I found him whimpering on the floor, unable to move! I didn’t know that you could pick things up at the time, so I left him to try and find some food. I heard a yelp, and Josh was gone.
I don’t mind the style that Shelter 2 goes for, with a world that looks like it’s been stitched together with various textures. It’s very minimal and meshes together well. It gives the game a unique look, one I’ve never seen in another game. However, this becomes an issue during the chase sequences – am I running into a bush or a rock? Also, the camera would swing pretty vigorously, and it’d be difficult to gauge where I was in relation to the rabbit/prey I was chasing.
Shelter 2 is a really enjoyable game. It taps into your survival instincts, as you explore an unknown wilderness and fight to keep your cubs safe and well fed, while introducing a maternal/paternal dynamic to gameplay that I haven’t really experienced outside of the Shelter series. The game can be very powerful, and when I was done I was left with a very satisfied feeling. I continued playing to see where my family tree could end up. All in all, it’s well worth your time.
- + Great sense of survival
- + Keeps you invested
- + Warrants multiple playthroughs