Sheltered is a post-apocalyptic survival game where you better manage your time, resources, and family well if you plan to survive. In Fallout meets the Sims, every wrong move could be your family’s last.
Let’s just say: This game was so much fun, I ended up streaming on Twitch for the first time.
Your family of four (plus a pet of your choice) has come across an abandoned underground shelter. You don’t know who the previous owners are, but you do find a severed hand still grasping a handle. Venture out into the wastelands to gather needed provisions while managing your family’s needs at home. Meanwhile, others will come to your shelter asking to trade or for you to take them in. It’s up to you to make it a home.
Aside from the introduction of Sheltered, there isn’t much in the way of story. You have to make it your own through successes, failures, and death. There is a journal that tells some of the story, including the bit about the severed hand, but you’ll be too busy just trying to keep your family alive to really need a story.
Although it would have been awesome to have fleshed out graphics for Sheltered, the 2D ones work well! I enjoyed the basic looks of my characters and it added simplicity while trying to navigate the shelter for the first time. I think the graphics also added a post-apocalyptic type feel to the game since you’re really relying on the basic needs. It makes sense that the graphics would be basic as well.
You also get to customize your family’s looks. There are quite a few choices in each appearance category which made it easy to make each character look different. Once I saw there was a mullet available for children, it was a must have for our son.
Audio is similar to the graphics: it only covers the basic needs. It has no voice actors, very little music, and only a few sounds. It really left me wanting for more. When my wife, Julie, buried my body after I starved to death, it would have been nice to see and hear her shed a few tears. Or perhaps, the dog I sacrificed myself to save, howling over my dead body. I’m just saying – a memorial with audio would have been nice! I at least deserve that!
In Sheltered, you really only have a few keys to use. Almost everything relies on your mouse, whether that be taking a drink, equipping a gas mask, or building a shower. There are a few other keys when moving items around, but other than that, it’s just the mouse. After three days, you can automate your family, which should make them easier to manage. “Refugees” will come to your door, asking for shelter, and you decide if you want to take on the task of managing and supporting more members. You can venture out and meet wild animals, traders, and attackers during your quest for supplies.
Even though I love Sheltered, I had two minor issues with the gameplay. One is the lack of a usable pause. For example: you need to put down a sleeping bag, but there’s no spot to put it because your bathroom bucket is in the way. So you slide the bucket to the side and place the sleeping bag. Time just ticked by. This made it a little frustrating and overwhelming at times. Also, with the automation: for some reason, my family members kept finding the need to go outside and just stand there without a hazmat suit for no reason! They’d come back with Radiation Poisoning after saying “I should have worn a hazmat suit”. ….
Now, aside from those two very minor problems, the gameplay in Sheltered is amazing and easy to learn. It’s so much fun to try to manage everyone while keeping the family from dying from a hundred different things. You learn from mistakes too. For example, I thought it be nice to let our son, Julian, eat before taking a shower. Except he got food poisoning. Lesson learned after he threw up all over the shelter requiring his brother to clean it up.
Although my first family didn’t last long (they were all starving to death and a refugee we allowed inside contaminated our water supply), this game was the most fun I had in a while. Mistakes were made and learned from, so I’m confident my next family will do better. I wasn’t a Twitch streamer before this game, but this one made me want to set that up so I could share it with my friends. We had a blast laughing over my poor decisions and our ultimate deaths.
Would I recommend Sheltered? In a heartbeat. At least one of my friends who watched the stream will be getting it for herself!