Shelter 2 by Might and Delight Studio is the follow up sequel to the critically acclaimed and generally well received title under the same name. You would be forgiven for lamenting that this is just another one of those ‘survival games’ set to the backdrop of a bleak wilderness, in which death is your only obstacle. Indeed, this is something to concern you with but the focus here leans towards a more adult look into videogames as both an art form and the maternal strife of raising and protecting ones offspring that is so finely woven into our own primordial nature. If you allow; Shelter 2 can very quickly become a powerful facet that will engulf the heartstrings in many ways.
The player will assume control of a pregnant Lynx named Inna who must seek shelter in the dead of night from a harsh unspecified winter tundra. Immediately the player is pursued by a pack of ravenous wolves that will stop at nothing to tear Inna limb from limb. Once the cubs are born, they can be named to the player’s desire and it is up to them to provide food and water to nurture the cubs by hunting Rabbits, Mice and Deer as well as raiding trees for birds’ nest eggs to provide additional sustenance.
The narrative is broken up into chapters that pass the passage of time as the player watches their cubs come of age leading to their inevitable disbanding as they go their own way out into the wide open world. Something I imagine that pulls on the heartstrings of every parent or child who might play this. It is an evocative and moving experience that is supported with a wondrous ambient soundtrack that hits those emotional cues at just the right moments for the optimal effect.
This is all but a microcosm of the possibilities the player will have to endure as they make their way across a small sandbox world teeming with an ecosystem that is a spectacle and natural beauty to behold. The world itself is split up into three large areas to explore at your leisure and each with its own striking vistas to look upon as the seasons shift and change from spring through winter. Sad then to say that, this does not bring about any gameplay changes or mechanics so much as it is there to serve only the voyeur.
The choice of art direction/style in this game helps to serve its tranquil tempo as a soothing, emotional experience by connoting in it; a post-modern works of Vincent van Gogh or the bold material & pastel-like colors of Paul Gauguin. It serves an artifice tone in nature that can provide some blistering beauty that all players can appreciate.
The controls may come under some scrutiny from those who prefer controllers over the mouse and keyboard as the former is not an available play option. However for the most part the controls are responsive and well mapped allowing almost anyone to pick up and play with ease. It becomes unwieldy in tighter areas like canyons or ravines but thankfully the game plays to its strengths by keeping the player out in the vast open plains where movement is unhindered.
Shelter 2 will not appeal to the average gamer as it will provide only some small challenge to those who are well adept to furious gun-play and tactical simulation, which is a shame however as I would urge this demographic to at least try something out of their comfort zone; as it is but a small fleeting and momentary look into the life-cycle of a Lynx and the very nature that surrounds it. The game clocks in at no considerable length above one or two hours, but those who try it, may very well find a provocative experience that they can take away with them.
[ 84 / 100 ]
– Daniel Kerr Spendlove