Sunday, 8 March 2015

Raucous Reviews: Shelter 2

All images from Might and Delight
Shelter 2 is a game that uses underhand tactics to make you feel for its characters and feel involved with the gameplay: your ultimate goal is to protect some cute baby Lynxes(?) from hunger and predators, the "cute" part being integral to your motives in the game. 

You play as the mother lynx, gathering food for her cubs in a changing landscape while protecting herself from the evils of the landscape: predators and fatigue. That's all you really have to go on in Shelter 2, apart from a small prologue to introduce you to the story and the most basic mechanics; from there on out, you're on your own, with the occasional tooltip popping up when you discover new mechanics, and it's an almost perfect way to style the game, although I did find myself looking at the controls quite often.

This next part of the part of the gameplay will either make you love or hate Shelter 2: the gameplay is very open; there's only one basic objective, the rest of the huge world is your oyster, and other than hunting down food for you cubs, you can just explore the land and find enlightenment, or whatever lynxes are wont to do: it's very Proteus, with the survival features being forgotten as you lose yourself in the world, only to be jogged by the cries of your cubs.

Even if you love that type of gameplay, the biggest problem in the game (Which is really a testament to how well-made this game is) is that you'll be doing a LOT of running around as you hunt for prey and explore the landscape, which exhausts the fatigue system very quickly. You can replenish your stamina quickly by drinking from lakes and rivers, but they're quite far away from each other, so you'll find yourself sprinting and walking, sprinting and walking until you find one.

Still, the highlight of the world is how goddamn beautiful it is: the art style is very Tearaway, with the worlds being very papery and collage-y, and the Sun being a vibrant yellow ball of paper. The snow-covered landscapes are already beautiful enough, but as soon as you start the real game, the Sun emerges, the snow melts and music syncs up to the change: it's truly a beautiful moment. The music is a huge part of the experience, and really bolsters it: at times it's soothing and fitting, other times it's full of tension (Especially at the start)

The best thing about it? My PC only has the power of a PS3 (Hell, it has a GPU integrated in the CPU) yet I can still play Shelter 2 at the highest setting and the game stays at a consistent 30fps. The performance is always very stable, there were no moments of screen-tearing or framerate drops. The only real technical issues I had were a couple of clipping issues, which were a little frustrating when I was chasing prey, but could easily be fixed by a patch.

The Verdict: If you're a fan of the original game, or just want an experience to lose yourself in an arty world with not too much pressure to do anything, then Shelter 2 is for you. If you're looking for an on-rails game that tells you what to do, however, then look elsewhere.

Thanks to Might and Delight for sending us a review code!

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