The night is punctuated by a guttural growl and then a high-pitched squeal. My brain goes into overdrive. I curse myself for letting my attention drift as my hands flick my mouse and spin my badger dad around to face the terror of the night. While the camera spins to face the unseen predator I’m also tallying up my badger children in an emergency roll call. There’s Burger, Dart, Splotch, …where’s Gnat? “Where is Gnat,” I practically shout at my monitor at one in the morning. I recklessly dash my badger into the darkness looking for the lost cub, and then hesitate, remembering I still have the other three to worry about. As I wait for my remaining three little ones to catch up, I give one last glance around into the nightmarish darkness, before turning back and resuming my night trek through the valley. Gnat, much like his brother, Zorro, is just another casualty of Shelter.
Turns out, I’m a horrible badger father. By the end of my hour-ish playtime with the preview build of Shelter, I had lost the majority of my badger babies to the dangers of the wild.
Shelter is an upcoming game from Might & Delight, the developer behind 2012′s stylish platformer, Pid. In Shelter, a game artistically and mechanically much different from Pid, players take on the role of the badger-parent of a small clan of badger babies, and the game revolves around the slow migration of this badger family through the wilderness, scavenging for food, and just attempting to stay alive. The babies follow the player around automatically, while being completely dependent on the player for survival.
Shelter ushers players through the zones by implementing a necessity to feed the baby badgers (who can starve to death if you neglect to feed them, as I found out with Zorro). Uprooting onions or headbutting trees to knock down fruit will be how players acquire the majority of their sustenance, but there are the occasional frogs or gophers that players can attempt to run down, as well. Survival comes into play when larger predators make an appearance, notably an eagle that will try to snatch up the babies if players stay out in the open for too long, —hectic dashing from cover to cover is required to stay alive.
From my time with Shelter, it feels like Shelter is more of an experience, rather than a game. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it just seems like to go from a very exciting platformer like Pid, to a game that is essentially slow-paced Mother Nature simulator, is a bit of a tone down. With that said, there will certainly be people who disliked Pid, but will find entertainment and joy (and a bit of morbid reality) within Shelter.
“The idea came to us, soon after Pid,” explains Johannes Wadin, Might & Delight creative director, in a developer diary video. “We knew we wanted to do something quite different, and we decided fairly early that it would be something like a fable, or that animals will have a crucial role. Once we decided on the mother protecting her cubs that’s when it all happened, when we decided we would focus on creating a game with a slower tempo…a more emotionally absorbing game.”
With that objective in mind, I would feel comfortable saying that Might & Delight has met that goal; Shelter presents an engaging and unique experience that is sure to change the way players view wild animals.
Shelter was recently approved through the Greenlight system on Steam, and will launch at $9.99, later this year.