Sheltered is a rogue-like RPG where the player controls a family living in a post nuclear apocalypse fallout shelter. It draws many comparisons to Bethesda’s free to play game Fallout Shelter released on mobile platforms last year, but on all accounts was under development prior to that games release. Having a degree of success on Steam and a thriving community, it has been ported to the PS4.
The game holds few surprises early on; it is an inventory management game that immediately provides you with the challenges of keeping food and water for your family to survive, and fuel to power the generator that keeps your oxygen supply sustainable. Rain occurs sporadically so you can automatically top up your supplies, and expanding how much you can hold is key early in the game.
You also have to send parties out to scavenge the wasteland for parts to upgrade and build up your shelter, to eliminate constant bothers of running out of food and water, so you can concentrate on preparing your characters for the eventual challenges that come about in the wasteland. Other things that need to be maintained are toilet and shower facilities, to prevent a dirty shelter and food poisoning.
Leave the trauma unchecked and a character can become catatonic, meaning they can only be fed by other characters, lest they also die and create even more trauma for all those left
Trauma is another factor to watch carefully. Characters dying cause this, as do invasions and struggling with hunger, thirst etc. for too long. Leave the trauma unchecked and a character can become catatonic, meaning they can only be fed by other characters, lest they also die and create even more trauma for all those left. Medication is sparsely available to counter this before catatonia is reached and certain items can be built to make the shelter a more serene environment for all.
There is an RV outside the shelter missing parts which can eventually be built up, providing more space for scavenging runs and reducing the amount of water the runs require, at the cost of using fuel resources. There are minor side quests to be completed with encountered NPCS, usually involving providing them with a number of resources to complete. Also a ‘mystery hatch’ with a code to which I have yet to find a solution, and don’t wish to spoil for myself by looking it up. One downside to the game is that there is no way of keeping track of much of this without a solid memory, or the aid of a notepad.
Sheltered has a punishing learning curve, but persevering and noticing ways to maximise scavenging runs and supplies can mean that it is almost infinitely sustainable. But all it takes is a hostile encounter in the wasteland to kill your scavenger/scavengers, leaving you with another uphill struggle. Extra characters can be recruited, but have a period of time before they are loyal enough to go out on scavenging runs. If the entire family die, despite new recruits, it’s game over.
Despite the game’s retro graphical stylings, there’s a fair degree of depth to the game that urges you to carry on longer that you would expect. I often found myself urging another half an hour to play with the promise of a new upgrade around the corner. There’s a very repetitive element to the game, but with a global leaderboard it can encourage players to continue even further for bragging rights. Being a budget indie title, though, the price is right and there’s solid value for money in terms of the amount of hours an interested player will invest.