Tuesday, December 18

Review: Sheltered [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Considering the fact that survival games are a bit of a niche it’s a bit surprising that less than 2 years into the Switch’s lifespan it is so well-represented. Some of the entries have only come in the past few months but pretty well every flavor I can imagine, from more casual, to active, to roguelike and challenging, to something bordering on realistic with some heavy hits of reality have made their presence known. We now can add Sheltered to the list, and though it has some merits of its own its biggest challenge is in vying for a way to stand out against the already-established crowd.

You’ll start out with Survival mode, putting together a family of two parents and two children, and if you’d like customizing their traits a bit to your tastes. The role these choices play isn’t always completely clear from a casual view but there’s no doubt they play an incremental role in how well each person handles specific tasks or consumes your finite resources. Your somewhat humble bunker is going to be your home and even if you don’t choose to take on any additional survivors you’re going to need to expand if you don’t want everyone becoming sleep-deprived and sick. If you want a different challenge there’s the option to explore and try to survive pre-made circumstances in Scenario mode as well.

As is the case with most survival games your first attempt (or several, depending) is mostly going to be about trial and error coming to understand what it is the game wants and needs you to prioritize. While getting people out and exploring for gear and supplies is always important expansion is a particular concern in Sheltered. With only adequate space to build one bed for your initial 4 people you’re going to need to build some rooms or everyone’s going to be having issues. Water is also a limiting factor, with rain only coming intermittently, so making sure you have the ability to store more when it falls should be a priority as your exploration range will be limited. Storage should also be a priority, you’ll want a stockpile of various supplies as you craft more elaborate things so be sure not to be stingy with space. Taking on new people can be a blessing and an issue, you’ll lack as much control over them as your family and they can be resource hogs, but more people to keep things repaired while you’ve got your family exploring has its uses.

As a whole Sheltered isn’t too bad but I’d say the biggest hurdle it faces is in differentiating itself and proving it is more fun/challenging/engaging than its competition on the console. Since it isn’t very action-oriented it can’t compete with the likes of Don’t Starve, Flame in the Flood, or Crashlands, it lacks the emotional depth and gravity of This War of Mine, and obviously compared to Fallout Shelter it isn’t free and while it doesn’t bug you trying to get you to pay for things it also isn’t nearly as polished. In the end it’s just a decent, though somewhat lackluster, survival sim that has its moments but doesn’t do enough to stand out very much in a crowded eShop.

Score: 6

  • Survival is a challenge of managing resources and learning how best to succeed
  • The ability to customize your family is a nice touch
  • Aside from the core Survival mode you can further challenge yourself with Scenario mode

  • Quite a lot of initiating actions and then waiting
  • As things wear on it can feel a bit grindy and lacking in clear goals to work towards
  • It fails to prove itself superior to the survival games already on Switch