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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shelter 2 is a serious downloadable adventure game illustrating the reality of life in the wild. It shows a mother lynx killing other animals to feed her babies as well as the bloodied bodies of her prey. It also depicts the reality of underfed babies starving to death or being killed by predators, but the stylized nature of the game's visuals reduces the impact of any gory imagery.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Is it any good?
Shelter 2 is essentially a retread of its predecessor, with lynxes instead of badgers, setting you loose in the wild while raising a new litter of kits. The game starts well, with a beautiful and poetic introduction featuring snowy woods, a heart-stopping wolf chase, and a sky full of stars. But things take a turn for the worse, because you have no idea what you're supposed to do. Hunt? Run around? Expect a lot of experimentation and frustration trying to figure out where to go and how to survive. Even worse, you'll have to feed your kits almost constantly to get them strong enough to follow you so they learn to hunt on their own, or they'll die. This is a lesson many players will learn the hard way because there's nothing indicating how hungry the babies are. It's heartbreaking and simply feels unfair. Worse yet, a near-unreadable map covered with abstract symbols and a tacked-on collection mechanic (why would a mother lynx need to run around collecting feathers or leaves?) keeps you going in circles, hinting at what should've been more fully realized gameplay.
For all it gets wrong, Shelter 2 does get some things right. Its angular vector graphics make it visually distinct from other games and give it an otherworldly quality. Its gentle guitar and piano score adds tension, drama, and a melancholy atmosphere to the gameplay. Most importantly, it gets you emotionally invested in the first 60 seconds. The intro is really effective at making you care about the momma lynx and her babies, which only makes it harder to accept when the emotion and content peter out. Shelter 2 could have been a remarkable expression of life in the wild, but insufficient direction and disjointed presentation make it feel incomplete. It succeeds in creating a beautiful and compelling take on the natural world but fails as a game by refusing to give players a foothold in it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about wildlife families. What must a momma lynx do to make sure her babies grow up strong?
Discuss the seasons. Which season is your favorite, and why?
Discuss why animals kill and how Shelter 2 depicts killing compared to other video games. Is it justifiable because it depicts the state of nature?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (Downloadable content available for an additional $1.99)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Might and Delight
- Release date: March 9, 2015
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: NR
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