When Fallout Shelter came out, I was pretty excited – it boosted my hype level for Fallout 4 and gave me the ability to be a real Vault-Tec overseer, yet it left me a little underwhelmed. With nothing else on the market, however, it looked as though my desire for an overseer simulator was about to die, but then I found out about Bristol-based Flox Studios, and the game they were developing – Life In Bunker. While, obviously, it’s not going to be a Fallout-style overseer simulation game, it does give you control of a bunch of survivors in an underground vault, and it is up to you to order them about to ensure their continued survival.
I will admit a slight worry that I had with the game is that it’d be just a Fallout Shelter clone, but these fears were immediately dispelled upon starting the game. There’s just so much to build and what really set it apart from Fallout Shelter was the ability to build rooms however you like, as you are able to destroy the surrounding rock, plop down floors and walls in any shape and size you like. You’re then able to place any “interior” object you like in the rooms, giving you full control of what your bunker looks like. It really reminded me of Theme Hospital, but with even more control over what goes in the rooms you place.
There’s a lot to think about in the game as well – your denizens will need electricity and water to survive in their new underground home, but they’ll also need fresh air to keep them alive. When you consider this, you have to really put a lot of thought into the layout of your basement dwelling to maximise the efficiency of all your utilities and still make it a liveable space. Combining this with the above point, about having a decent amount of choice about what you put into your rooms, can really make this a difficult prospect!
Making sure the setting of the game is spot on is a pretty challenging, but Flox Games really nailed it. It’s got great ambient sounds and an expansive area in which to expand your base into, all of which really make the game feel like you are really in charge of humanity’s last hope beneath the Earth. The textures and models in general are also pretty decent, with objects being particularly nice to look at, but the human textures aren’t really at the same standard, and although they are functional and you can tell they are human, it does look like they’ve come straight out of Final Fantasy VII.
The tutorials in the game are a little hit or miss. They mix large amounts of text with short sections of gameplay on how to do things. Only you’re not really given a whole lot of direction on it. Quite a few times I’d have to re-read things because I missed a bit of information and the UI wasn’t overly intuitive at times. It allowed a lot of freedom to the player during it which actually was a pretty bad thing in my eyes. I’d much prefer having a structured tutorial that takes you through all of the aspects of the game and how they can affect the game play, rather than a bit of a disjointed in depth analysis followed by an almost free level of play. It made learning the game a little more frustrating and felt more like a chore than anything, which was really disappointing.
Lately, I’ve been a little jaded by games, with too many of them being initially appealing but not holding my attention for too long due to lack of content or challenge, or even just that they’re bad games. Life In Bunker definitely changed that for me, and while it could use some polish (which the developers are keen on doing, judging from their dev blog!), it’s still very fun to play through.