Shelter 2: Kill Or Be Killed

A spiritual sequel to 2013’s best badger simulator isn’t what we’d necessarily refer to in the industry as a ‘sure thing’. Shelter was an interesting, though entirely unconvincing, attempt to utilise the interactive form to deliver a different type of game. While the idea was solid tasking you with simulating the lifecycle of a badger in a papercraft world the execution was lacklustre, restrained by a lack of freedom, depth and ambition. We sure were interested to see whether developer Might And Delight could appropriately expand on the core concept in an impactful manner.

Sadly, Shelter 2 expands upon almost everything over its first iteration, except its ambition. It’s a shame, because on the surface, Shelter 2 seems to include everything it needs to deliver. The stunning art direction and atmospheric music remains largely unchanged; the grassy corridor has been replaced by an impressively-sized world; and, more importantly, you’ve moved up in the food chain as you embody an adorable momma Lynx.

That’s an important distinction; a Lynx is both predator or prey, after all. A few new simple yet functional mechanics have come into play as you attempt to defend, feed and nurture both yourself and four adorable baby cubs. There’s a button to run, one to roar, one to sense and another to attack welcome additions while trying to survive the wilderness. It’s here where you get the impression that Shelter 2 will soar past its predecessor, allowing you appropriately embody the powerful bobcat and fend for your family, but a lack of mechanical depth ends up being a detriment to the entire experience.

All you’re doing in Shelter 2 is walking and eating. And occasionally watching in horror as one of your cubs is savaged by a wolf. But mostly it’s just the walking and eating thing. This will happen for an hour, and then the game will end. Replayability is hampered by a severe lack of consistent interest. There will be long periods where there is no prey to track or hunt, instead you’re left to ramble on until the whining of your cubs drives you insane. An accurate representation of life in the animal kingdom? Perhaps. But is it an engaging experience? Absolutely not. Worse still, when you do eventually come across prey there’s no targeting system, nor any obvious way to stalk. Instead you’re forced to waste what little stamina you have chasing down fast prey, a frustrating reality when the environment presents so many wasted or otherwise underdeveloped opportunities to better replicate the hunt-or-be-hunted gameplay cycle.

The problems of the original Shelter remain, albeit in a bigger and more complex world. There’s nothing particularly bad in Shelter 2, but it’s just wholly mediocre.A sequel that offers glimpses of growth that are quickly tempered by a lack of execution. It feels like a wasted opportunity.

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