Shelter is an experimental game of exploration and survival from the Might and Delight developer. The game follows the steps of a mother badger and its cubs as they attempt to survive and in an environment that is as beautiful as dangerous. With a unique art style and an evocative atmosphere, Shelter proposes a gameplay that is certainly worth exploring.
The game takes place in the woods, an area that is exquisitely rendered in cardboard-like style and soft colors. From the very start we know that the habitat is far from being friendly, since the hazards around are many. But as the mother badger, you're aware of the need of keeping the cubs well fed and safe from harm, and that's exactly what the game is about. Along the game, your main goal is to herd your cubs from one place to the other as you provide for their food and protect them from any possible danger.
Gameplay is purely intuitive and even instinctive; the lack of instructions and clear rules makes that evident from the beginning. You must figure out how to proceed at every moment as your cubs follow closely behind. But believe me, the initial confusion and the aimless wandering around the woods soon start to make sense. The mother badger is controlled with the keyboard, using the WASD keys to move and shift or mouse clicks for actions like collecting food. The camera follows the mouse movements and so it's very easy to control; setting aside a few graphical glitches, it responds very well. You soon learn that carrots, apples, and frogs can keep the cubs bellies full for a while, but the search for food never ends. Likewise, your parental instincts tell you that hiding beneath a bush can serve as a shelter from predators, like eagles. More importantly, you need to know that negligence could be fatal for the cubs.
The great achievement of this game, in my opinion, is its essential concept and the atmosphere it creates, which is distressing and scary at moments and evocative at the same time, where music plays a fundamental role. The idea that nature is cruel and indifferent, and that the struggle for survival seems to be a lost battle is very well conveyed along the hours it lasts.