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Shelter hands-on preview

Two days ago the High Court in London granted an injunction to restrict people protesting against the badger cull. It’s fitting then, that I now sit here journeying through the opening chapters of Might And Delight’s Shelter. It all begins in an underground home. You’re a badger (a sow), and following the near starvation of one of the cubs she leads her young from the safety of their shelter and out into the wild for food.

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“Teaches the circle of life”The sow and her five cubs leave their home and enter a children’s pop-up book-esque land washed in pastel tones. The sweet, colourful environment is welcoming on the eyes and plays as a clever juxtaposition to the reality of what’s happening. Not all of her cubs will survive this journey. If collapsing through hunger doesn’t take them, then the multitude of predators out there in the wild shall.

This is communicated through sound and minute emotive design. The cubs fur colour fades as they tire, the sow can bark for their attention and pull up root vegetables, or catch an unaware rat, and environment changes are signalled through sound. It teaches the circle of life and a highly complex food chain through simple actions, all of which are conducted by the player themselves.

Making our way through the first sunlight forest we ended up at the bottom of a stream during the night. As the sow slowly made her way forward, using the stream for navigation, something approached nearby breaking a twig underfoot. Her cubs paniced and darted forward into the unknown darkness. As the cubs distanced themselves further the musical score began to crescendo. Something was out there slowly stalking them.

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Later the same happened again but this time a cub was forever lost. A guttural howl engulfed the small final squeak. The sound was clearly its last. Young Terry the cub had become food to another creature higher up the food chain. It’s this shifting use of music and variation in themes that kept Shelter fresh during these earlier segments. Both locations had their own matching soundtrack and major events were emphasised through the use of different instruments. If this continues throughout it’ll undoubtedly be one of its major strengths.

You can see our gameplay footage here.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

Gentle persuasion

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