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Sheltered review

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Sheltered has turned me into a child slaver. Sort of.. I mean, my children are regularly fed and watered. They get sleep whenever they need it and opportunities to use the restroom, even shower when we’ve had a proper rain. The only thing I ask of them in this post-apocalyptic survival simulation is that they build furniture, fix utilities, and only occasionally put on radiation suits to venture into the wilderness for the good of the family. So, I’m not really that evil.

Sheltered’s one of those games. The type you’ll either like, loathe, or grudgingly come back to despite an endless panoply of disagreements. The amount of micromanagement required is absolutely excruciating and weirdly, that’s both good and bad. At its best, the game is capable of instigating a transcendental zen-ness. You fix equipment, you attend to basic ablutions. You send family members into the wastelands, you broadcast enticements to traders. You rinse, you get rid of rats, you repeat, over and over, as you accumulate resources and build on the ramshackle warrens that you call home. It’s a hypnotic time sink earmarked by fits of accomplishment.

At its worst, though, Sheltered is an endless succession of small frustration, of gnashing your teeth because you can’t seem to find hinges or metal or light bulbs on demand and oh god, honestly, can I just tell someone I’ll give them endless fuel for twenty planks? Please? Someone?

Anyone?

On the most basic level, Sheltered is a survival simulation that puts you in charge of a small family. In a pleasing twist, you can customize this core unit however you desire – and by that, I mean you can decide to have anything from queer pairings with wild-haired foster kids, to traditional Scandinavian family units. Anything you want, so long as it amounts to exactly four people.