Sheltered (Early Access) Review – A Challenging Post-apocalyptic Experience

Sheltered
Unicube/Team 17

Looking at the current survival games that are available out there, there just aren’t a lot of survival games that feature The Sims type of management with side-cut-away-view management. The only thing that comes close Is Oxygen Not Included but that game’s art style and premise are so goofy and over the top that I really can’t take it that seriously.

Team 17’s new survival simulator, Sheltered, fits that bill to a tee (and then some). It’s set in a dreary post-apocalyptic world where you play as a family who was smart enough to build an underground prepper-type bunker before all hell broke loose. You are tasked with managing your various characters’ needs, which mainly consist of hunger, thirst, dirtiness, tiredness, and their all-important bathroom breaks.

Gameplay-wise, what this boils down to is cycling through each character in order to assign different sorts of tasks to them. These can range from self-maintenance, fixing some piece of important equipment or weapon, or other important projects. You’ll have to constantly be on the lookout for what needs to be repaired around your base, whether that be the bathrooms, showers, generators, oxygen filter, or rain-collector.

As much as many people would just love to hunker down within the relative safety of their base, resources and other important things don’t just pop up for you to take. Besides occasional traders that wander into your area you’ll need to send members of your family out on expeditions in order to scavenge for resources.

You’ll choose how to outfit your family members, and may select from a wide array of gear including backpacks, protective clothing, and different sorts of weapons. After sending your party out into the ravaged countryside you’ll be able to stay in control and communicate with them via radio contact. However, if your party encounters something a little more on the dangerous side you’ll have the option of entering into a combat mode where you can personally interact with each character and their enemies.

In my many play-throughs of Sheltered I noticed a couple of things. The first was that after some time, the base management and combat featured in the game can become quite repetitive. The caveat here though is that although things can become rather bogged down in terms of redundancy, I always grew to bond with my characters on a personal level.

For instance, I once sent the father and son out on a scouting mission and they were viciously attacked by some bandits. Although my duo managed to kill the bandits, pops sustained some pretty severe injuries while trying to protect his son. When they returned to their base, pops immediately got sicker (fever) and got an infection in his leg. He slowly died as the rest of his family doted on him in an effort to save his life. His death was a heart-wrenching moment that will forever be etched into my “sad gaming moments” file.

And that’s a huge part of Sheltered’s appeal—a game that unravels itself in layers as you tackle one situation after the next. The emergent storytelling factor is part-and-parcel of this game and I believe even the most jaded of gamers will eventually grow fond of their little virtual avatars. When things are going well for them you’ll feel cheery and hopeful, and when disaster strikes you’ll grow sad or angry.

Sheltered is an exceptionally gripping survival and resource-management experience that should be added to any survival or management junkie’s collection. It has a unique look, some great emergent storytelling, and a fun (if slightly repetitive) base management system.

SCORE: 81%

Sheltered features great graphics that make its survival gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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