If you missed the original – horribly poignant and atmospheric as it was – then let us fill you in. Not quite the bedtime story with the happy ending that we’d love to tell, the first game was a distressing tale as you were entrusted with the care of a delightful brood of badger cubs. Who, we might add, slowly died in front of your eyes if you didn’t take care of them with the requisite food and protection. Watership Down: eat your heart out. The follow up, from Swedish developer Might And Delight, looks no less harrowing, but is still shaping up to be a beautiful experience as you take on the role of a mother lynx this time around.
When asked what the team had learnt from the original and wanted to take into the new adventure, studio manager and producer Joel Danielson is suitably thoughtful. “[We wanted] the feeling of Shelter; the meditative, somewhat strange experience where nature is in focus with a sense of survival,” he says. “The intimacy, the strong sense of motherhood-protective proximity that Shelter succeeded in doing. The game experienced a lot by just looking at places and events with visual narration.”
Where the original Shelter was on a more linear track, number two opens up a larger world for you to explore, adding extra dangers for your cubs but also new ways to interact with the world. As a lynx is somewhat springier than a badger, it also means you have a new stamina bar and can hunt a huge variety of prey to feed your clutch of meowing little ’uns.
“It has been challenging,” explains Danielson. “Things are interrelated in a complex way in an open world but we wanted to give the player an additional dimension of nature’s grandeur, danger and beauty, so it was just right to place the game in an open environment. Shelter can be described as very flat, while in Shelter 2 we wanted to work strongly with depth and scale as some of the key visual features.”
Shelter 2 also has a bloodline system that will let you name and then follow the family tree of your litter of cubs. Should they survive the tale then you can continue the story with previous charges. We feel guilty already but there’s no avoiding the impressive emotional depth Might And Delight is aiming for with this upcoming tale.