I’ve always trusted Team17. They’re a development company that have given me countless hours of enjoyment across many games in the Worms universe and more recently in the indie titles they’ve published. Having just got my hands on an XBox One, I needed to pad out my library a tad, and Team17 offered me just the ticket – their Indie Heroes bundle. There are a bunch of good games in there – games I’ve played before such as the Escapists or Not A Hero and a lot of games I’ve not had a chance to play yet. One of the games that caught my eye was one called Sheltered. It looked a cross between 60 Seconds and Fallout Shelter. It’s a game that puts you in control of a family of four, who are trying to survive in the apocalyptic conditions they find themselves in.
In Sheltered, your family have needs similar to what you’d see in the Sims. You need to make sure they’re well fed, clean, don’t need to use the loo, are well rested and also that they’re hydrated properly. Staying on top of these things is key to surviving, and you’re given the basics in your vault – a shelf for food and a water butt – but everything else, you’ll need to build yourself. That doesn’t necessarily sound like such a tough prospect, but when you’re limited on resources, you’ll need to decide whether or not you really need a toilet. Or a shower. Not having these facilities will lead to issues in the vault, but when you want to save your materials for something else, it does give you something to think about.
There are a couple of ways to get materials – the most obvious one is to go out and scavenge away for them. Doing this is surprisingly fun, especially when you consider that you don’t actually go out with your touring party. Instead, you click a few points on a map and they wander out, calling back when in need of assistance. Every time my party called back, I always got excited. They’d either tell me that they’ve found a lot of items for me to use or they’d encounter a person. Both of these events can be exciting – and also disappointing.
Finding items is always something that excites me. I love the anticipation of what is in every house that I venture out to, knowing that I might just find an item that will secure my family’s well-being for another day. Barging into an old pharmacy and robbing it of all the medicine you can get your grubby mitts on is a very satisfying experience. Especially when you get traders knocking on the door and the value of your medicine far outweighs everything they have to offer. Of course, there’s always the flip side of scavenging, that you might just get a bunch of mannequin limbs. It can be a real gamble, sending your family out to the far corners of the map in order to get some decent loot, but it is always a thrill.
When you bump into another civilian in Sheltered, you never really know what way it’s going to go. Some people may be pretty decent – trying to get by as best they can. Maybe they’ll offer you a fair trade. Maybe they’ll even ask to join your little group! Then, in addition to having your core four, you’ll have an extra member who you can get to mill around your vault, fixing it up and cleaning it. After a short while, they’ll even be feeling loyal enough towards you to want to join you on outings, which really does boost your chances of survival. With more hands on deck, there’s the chance for finding all the more loot. Again though, not everyone is as kind and willing to help you out. There will be a number of bad eggs out there who are determined to ruin your day. And if you’re not equipped correctly, they may just succeed in doing that by murdering you and running off with your gear.
Apocalyptic User Interface
The developers of Sheltered really wanted to make you feel the apocalypse that’s happening around you, as the user interface is frankly awful. I managed to play it on both PC and XBox One and both had UI issues, but they were both different. On the PC, it was irritating to try to find and click on your family members. For instance, when you’ve told someone to go to bed, but then you want to queue something, it’s a right pain in the bum to actually select them. As you always need to have someone ‘active’, what ends up happening is that you’ll be trying to wake someone up while forcing another family member to rub up against them. I cannot tell you how frustrated I got trying to move my mouse to the correct pixel to select my family member, while another one died because of it.
On the XBox, they did manage to resolve that issue by using the shoulder buttons, but they had a strange other quirk – they seemed to forget that they had an entire controller to use. So there are a few actions where you have to hold down a button to get it to do the action you want it to do. As there are lots of buttons on controllers these days, and a significant amount that are not used in Sheltered at all, it’s baffling why they decided against using the hardware that they have available to them.
The Final Word
Despite the controls being a bit wacky, Sheltered is a pretty fun game. Once you’ve gotten used to how the game controls, then you’ll probably find yourself lost in the wasteland for hours on end. There are a lot of places to explore, and getting all of the items you require to progress in the game does take some patience, but when it all comes together it is fantastic.