Sheltered was developed by Unicube & Team17 Digital Ltd and published by Team17 Digital Ltd. The full release is planned on March 15, 2016 for Xbox One for the price of $14.99. The version reviewed is part of the preview program and some things do not function as in the final version of the game. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
Sheltered is a strategy survival game that will keep you on your toes. You first find you and your family in a run down bunker that will need continuous fixes and upgrades on the systems that will help keep you alive. This game will test your will and your ability to multi-task to keep you and your family, strong, happy, and healthy. The choices you make will determine how long your family will survive this post apocalyptic world.
What I enjoyed:
Explore, trade, and repeat – This is a very realistic game and you need to think strategically to keep your family alive. Trading and scavenging becomes an addiction to acquire more and better things to build a stronghold for your family. Having said that, in order to survive for a long time in this game the family must explore the wasteland and surrounding towns for supplies to repair and craft new items such as beds, food pantries, and new water filtration systems as well as food and medical supplies. Make sure your expedition team is well rested and fed before sending them top side. All or just one family member can go exploring but there should be someone left behind to make repairs and answer the radio transmissions. Equip the team with a filtered mask and a weapon in case they run into a feral animal, a mutant, or a stranger while top side.
It is also a good idea to send a valuable item so they can trade with others they meet. The most important thing is water. If you do not have ‘x’ amount of water for an ‘x’ amount of distance to travel to your set destination the expedition will not take place. This leaves your family at great risks as you will have to wait until it rains again to collect the water needed. When readying up for expeditions make sure it is someone who is courageous, athletic, and resourceful or you will find the supplies brought back will not be worth the water used to send the party in the first place. Expeditions are one of the ways to acquire new things as others will venture down to your bunker to trade their wares with you. But be aware that some things you find valuable others may not. This is so true in the real world how people put different values on different items.
What I disliked:
Incredible shrinking family – No matter what you do in this game your family and pets will eventually die. It may take several weeks or even months but it will happen. Your choices you make early on will determine how long you can keep your family safe. Do not put too much thought into creating your family as emotional attachment make the game more bleak. Also if you are far enough into the crafting part let’s hope you have a freezer to keep your family members corpse so you do waste food. Yeah that is an option in this game to eat your family members to survive. When playing I chose to bury my dead and to do it quickly so the other family members did not become too traumatized by the loss of family members.
Taking in strays – Recruiting is usually a necessary piece to the puzzle when building a business or team but when trying to keep your family alive during a global apocalypse is not a good idea. It may work for a while but I felt it was very counterproductive. As your family members die from starvation, dehydration or radiation poisoning you will want to start to recruit outside help. Be careful though because recruits do not behave the same way as your family. These recruits come into your bunker and do whatever they want. They will eat your food, drink your water, take showers and even deplete your medical supplies without being told. Your family will not do any of these things until you tell them to do so. So while the recruits are cleaning house so to speak you are left scrambling to replenish your very quickly dwindling supplies. To top it off these recruits will not fix things or go on expeditions until they are loyal to you. The only way for them to become loyal is to feel safe and protected by eating all your food and using your supplies. If some do not feel safe they will simply leave after depleting the supplies.
Survival games are fun but not usually my game of choice. There are few survival games out there that I do like. Sheltered certainly was a challenge and I only made it to Day 22 before all my family members and cat died, I had 2 loyal recruits and one who felt unsafe and left but not before depleting all my food supply. For me this game is just too bleak and dark and rather too real. The odds are stacked against you from the beginning and it is almost impossible to keep your family alive for any major amount of time. I am sure others have gotten further but for me it just became frustrating to keep losing my family and everything I worked hard to build.
Score: Skip it