A video game with a post-apocalyptic setting that focuses more on family rather than zombies or other ‘disaster’ clichés? Kim signs herself up for Sheltered at EGX 2015.
|Publisher:||Team 17 Digital Ltd|
|Release date:||August 2015|
|PEGI rating:||Not listed|
|Platforms:||Mac, PC, Xbox One|
|More information:||Official website|
An EGX event isn’t always the easiest place to play video games. Sure, the expo is dedicated to this form of entertainment and you’ll find yourself surrounded by hundreds of monitors and advertisements for up-and-coming releases; but the noise level, queues and lack of available time can mean that you’re not able to give a title the level of attention it deserves. This is usually the case for entries in the adventure genre and games that are a little more strategic, requiring brain-power instead of action skills.
This was the case for Sheltered by Unicube, tucked away in the Rezzed Zone at the NEC in Birmingham. It had been on my radar a week before the event after appearing in my Steam queue and I so was eager to give it a go for myself, but the ten minutes I spent at its crowded stand simply wasn’t enough. Advertised as a ‘post-apocalyptic disaster management game that gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘nuclear family’’, I found myself wanting to take care of my wife, look after my children and turn our underground shelter into a home.
The Steam page for Sheltered provides a particularly moving description: “Panting, scared, the shelter airlock smashes down behind you. It would be easier to give up. But you don’t. The hardship, the hunger, the thirst. The fear. You keep reminding yourself why you stay alive. Why you do this. Then you hear it. ‘Daddy, you’re back.’ Your wife’s face lights up and you open a bag full of medical supplies. You need not tell her how you got them. You simply enjoy your small victory in this, the harshest of times. In the post-apocalyptic world, you must keep your family alive in your underground bunker…”
It’s gripping stuff: how will you cope in this bleak new world? The way a player handles the moral choices presented to them could mean the difference between their family surviving or dying, and you’ll have to battle claustrophobia, radiation and mental exhaustion as you desperately cling to life. At times it will be necessary to leave the protection of your shelter and venture outside into the wasteland to scavenge for vital supplies which could ensure your survival for just one more day. But the highest dangers are the dregs of nuclear war: the rest of the human race that wander the wilderness and want nothing more than to share your well-prepared comforts.
In the short section I played at EGX, I was able to create my family (consisting of two adults and two children, along with a pet cat or dog) and customise their names, appearance, attributes and traits – a nice touch that strengthens a player’s connection to their playthrough. It was then necessary to get them into the shelter and close the doors behind us to prevent radiation particles from getting in. After adding fuel to the generator and powering the lights and oxygen filters, my next task was to decide who to send on an expedition into the wasteland to collect supplies. Fortunately I was able to plot their exploration to ensure they wouldn’t run out of water and provide them with provisions such as anti-radiation tablets, rope and duct tape. But what would they find out there… and would they make it back alive?
Sheltered started as a Kickstarter project back in June 2014, raising a total of £30,148 from 3,366 backers – more than double Unicube’s original £15,000 target. The three-man team based in Shrewsbury, UK have now gone down the Steam Early Access route, stating: “[The title] has a lot of layers to it, and a lot of different components effecting [sic] one another. Early access will give us the opportunity to balance the game to a point where it is fair and all the different components are not overpowered / underpowered. We want to make sure Sheltered is challenging and fun. Early access will help us achieve this.”
An announcement on Team 17 Digital Ltd’s website reveals that keeping everyone in Sheltered alive won’t be easy: “Supplies will run out. Mutated wildlife will wreak havoc on your shelter. Your shelter’s components will need repairs, forcing you to venture outside and, out there, other survivors will cross your path. You’ll be faced with tense encounters which you’ll need to carefully manage – making a wrong call could be deadly. Making the right call could save a life.”
So let’s see if I make that right call. It’s refreshing to find a title with a post-apocalyptic setting which focuses more on family rather than zombies or any other ‘disaster’ clichés; if I’d been able to spend a little more time with Sheltered in a quieter setting, I have a feeling that it could easily have become my favourite game of EGX. A preview will be coming soon (thank you to Sam Forrest from Team 17’s for providing a code!) and in the meantime, why not head over to the Steam page or the official website for more information.