|Badgers badgers badgers badgers badgers badgers
- Developer: Might and Delight
- Publisher: Might and Delight
- Release Date: 28 August 2013
- Time played: 1 hour
While browsing through Steam one day I noticed that there was a game with an interesting art style and that you got to play as... a badger. After this song was firmly planted in my head:
I then thought "Wow, that's actually pretty choice! I've never got to play as a badger in a game before! I'm really digging the art style too". The game's name was Shelter, so the next time Shelter happened to go on sale, I grabbed it. It didn't take me too long to finish the game (as you can see by the "Time played") so it's been long overdue for a review. Here is what I think about it.
There is no talking in this game. The game's story is revealed through the actions of the mother badger (you), its cubs, and the flora and fauna of the forest. Basically, you're a mother badger trying to protect its young from the dangers of the forest, which doesn't sound terribly interesting but the developers manage to do a great job in immersing you into the world. You definitely feel vulnerable when you realise you're not at the top of the food chain, and you feel this emotional attachment and responsibility to protect your cubs. As a result you have a powerful and touching story about the great lengths a mother badger will go to protect its young, which means the game is a perfect Mother's Day gift, if your Mum happens to play computer games that is. Fathers could always go play The Novelist.
The game has some relatively simple mechanics where the only thing you do is take cover from predators and find food to feed your children. Where it becomes challenging is the fact the badger cubs are totally dependent on your actions for their survival. Consequently they're a bit like the lemmings in the game Lemmings or your followers in From Dust. Due to how helpless and vulnerable your cubs are, this does create some pretty tense moments in the game where you're not quite sure if all of them are going to make it.
There's definitely a great soundscape to enjoy when you play this game. The sound of water falling down a cliff, brooks babbling, the swaying of the trees, chirping of birds and the badger cubs howling for food, all create an authentic experience that helps immerse you into the game.
The game consists of predominantly peaceful guitar music but can quickly change in style during times of danger. The music isn't that memorable to me as it's mostly used as a way of building emotion when certain actions are triggered in the game (e.g. when the cubs eat food or when you're about to be swooped by a giant bird, etc.) but it's definitely of a high quality.
The game has a beautiful art style although the cynical amongst us would probably criticise the low polygon count. Personally I find the art style refreshing.
While Shelter does have another game mode besides the main story campaign called "Nurture", I wasn't really attracted to playing it at all as it's very much like a Tamagotchi game (and if you don't remember what a Tamagotchi is, you're obviously not old enough to remember the weird 90s fad); it might have some appeal with kids though. So my one playthrough of the main campaign is probably all I'll ever play, and that only lasted an hour. Consequently I can't award a very high replay score due to the game's very short length.
I didn't encounter any serious bugs. Also, the controls thankfully seem suitable for a PC (i.e. the typical WASD setup).
Score – 8/10Shelter is admittedly a terribly short game with gameplay not too dissimilar from games like Lemmings and From Dust, with respect to ensuring the safety of your followers. However, the emotional journey the game takes you on, with you starring as a mother badger, is ultimately a unique and memorable experience. The game is a tribute to all mothers out there that would do anything to protect their young.
If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam or directly off Might and Delight's website.
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[ LINK: Official Shelter webpage]