The family survival guide.
This is a sandbox survival game with a focus on management, with an HQ to build. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, you’ll be playing as a family of survivors living below ground. With pixel art graphics, the game will give you goosebumps every time you venture outside. You can expect food poisoning from spoiled meat, dying of thirst, and radiation storms… Welcome to the world of tomorrow!
Team17 Digital Ltd
Team17 Digital Ltd
Sheltered. Developed by Unicube and Team 17 Digital Ltd © 2015. Published by Team17. Team17 are trademarks or registered trademarks of Team17 Digital Limited. All other trademarks, copyrights and logos are property of their respective owners.
Survival games with post-apocalyptic settings are nothing new, nor is being tasked with managing a shelter and keeping its residents alive. The thing that makes Sheltered a game in a class of its own, though, is just how well it manages to capture the sense of hopelessness and desperation.
Your first job will be to create a family of five, along with a pet (dog, cat, fish, horse, or snake), with each member having their own strengths and weaknesses. You can choose the name, gender, and skin colour of each resident, and that's just for starters.
More important yet, you also have to assign their personality traits, a careful task because these will play a major role in how effective – or otherwise – a given character is.
Next, there's a short tutorial that succinctly explains what you need to do beyond the game's base concepts, namely crafting, the gathering of resources, and satisfying the need for food and water. It also informs you that venturing out to the surface can lead to radiation poisoning, and how stress levels and trauma play a major role in your family's well-being.
Then, the tutorial is over and you're left to take care of your family on your own.
We liked the game's sandbox gameplay, which gives you the freedom to make your own choices to keep your family alive... or not. It keeps you engaged when you realise that their destiny lies in your hands.
You get to decide who goes out exploring (not forgetting to equip them appropriately), and who will remain safe in your underground abode. Your explorers might sometimes encounter NPCs, but be wary of them. They might be friendly, but they can just as well turn out to be violent or crazed.
While two members of your family are out exploring, the others need to clean your shelter, upgrade the water and air filters, dig out additional rooms, sleep, shower, puke, and even bury the dead. The list goes in.
Each survivor needs to stay clean, sleep, eat, and go to the toilet, and if any of these needs are neglected, they may begin to deteriorate fast. If you waste time in treating radiation poisoning contracted on a trip to the surface, then that person will die.
By its very nature, Sheltered forces you to plan your every move and micromanage your resources as if your life depended on it.
Here's a tip to help you on your way: it is possible to open the secret locked hatch in the northeast corner of the map by obtaining a 4-digit code. To get the code, choose a fish as a pet when creating your family. In the game, zoom in on the fish and count how many bubbles it makes. The number of bubbles gives you the code, but it changes with every new playthrough.
At the start of the game, you might have a hard time looking after the fish – cleaning the tank consumes 10 points of water – so be sure to upgrade the water filter as soon as you can so that you can keep your pet alive.
We loved how the game has thought of everything for almost infinite variety. There are new (bad) surprises every day, and it never gets boring. You'll be dying regularly in the beginning, but you'll often grow attached to your characters and prove able to carve out a relatively good post-apocalyptic life for them.
Don't be fooled by its pixel art aesthetic: Sheltered is a very hard game for fans of challenging survival games and micromanagement.