Shelter 2 put you in the role of a mother lynx doing her best to take care of her baby cubs. It features amazing aethetics and a great sound track. The concept is interesting and the visuals are great, but is that enough for a fun game?
The visual design is something close to what you'll see in paper mache art. It's stylized and well conceptualized. It's a gorgeous game with a look that can inspire. The sound design is equally impressive. The SFX help immerse the player into the woodland environment and the music is very pleasant on the ears with it taking highs and lows as the situation requires it. From a purely aesthetic perspective, I have little to no complaints.
When you jump into Shelter 2, you'll quickly discover it's not like most other survival games you've played, infact I wouldn't even call it a survival game. You don't have to feed yourself, theres no crafting, the only thing you have to be concerned about are your cubs. Chase rabbits and deer to keep them well fed and explore the landscape. It's pretty simple, maybe a little too simple. There's not really a huge amount of variety in the gameplay. You just run around catching prey and avoiding predators and other environmental dangers. You'll be doing this over and over again with out much else. It is fairly repetitive.
There's also no real mechanical punishment for losing a cub either. The game wants the player to feel emotionally connected to your family and tries it's best to have the impact of losing a baby as the punishment itself, but I feel like it fails in this. Let's take the games Brothers a tale of 2 sons, or This War of Mine as examples of games that successfully instilled emotional responses from the player. In both of those games, when you lose some one both those games will communicate sorrow through visual cues, the characters will cry, show signs or remorse, etc. You'll get a tiny bit of that in shelter 2 as well, but because none of the cubs show any personality traits that separate them, it diminishes any potential emotions from the player. Also the 2 games I named as examples amplifies the intended emotional response from the player through mechanics as well. In Brothers, you literally lose half of your controls, in This War of Mine characters become unresponsive to your commands. In Shelter 2 it does nothing. In fact, if you lose a cub, the game actually (intentionally or not) rewards the player from a mechanics perspective. You still have your full abilities and control, and the game gets easier as there's less mouths to feed. Games aren't movies or books. You can't drive home emotional responses from the player simply through narrative or visual cues. It needs to be reflected in the mechanics as well, and Shelter 2 falls flat on this.
Overall Shelter 2 is a gorgeous looking and sounding game with an interesting concept. Unfortunately it seems to forget that it's still a game and it needs to be fun. With repetitive and uninspired gameplay, mechanics that fail to instill the intended emotions. At best, Shelter 2 is an interactive experimental art piece, at worst, it's a boring game with mechanics that are simpler than games you'll find on web browsers or mobile.
- Great looking aesthetics and sound design
- Easy to pick up
- Fails as instilling the intended emotions
- Extremely simple and repetitive gameplay
- A far shot from being a "survival" game
- limited content
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Shelter 2 on Steam