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Shelter 2 Review (PC)

Shelter2dThe Lynx effect

By most accounts the Lynx is a pretty cool animal. It has manga-esque pointy ears, it has an ‘x’ in its name, and it’s a pretty badass at hunting.
Why else would the powers at be consider the creature’s reintroduction to the UK? That’s right, in the coming months a public consultation by the newly-formed Lynx UK Trust will look at returning the short-tailed cat to three sites, including one in Aberdeenshire.

The world of Might and Delight’s Shelter 2 is a far cry from the windswept fields of north east Scotland though. The beautiful art design gives the landscape a mythical feel, and unlike its 2013 predecessor the world is open to explore.

You play a mother Lynx, and during the intro you are fleeing a pack of woods through the rain, quickly exhausted by the imminent arrival of a litter of cubs. For those who loved Shelter as much as I did, you are instantly thrown back in to the raw terror of survival and responsibility.

Shelter2cAs the game begins properly, you instantly notice where the developers have looked to improve on the original. You can name your cubs, the world is open to explore and full of collectibles. The game looks beautiful, even on a low-spec machine, and the mechanics are simple and accessible.

As a lynx, your main priority is to hunt and keep your pride fed, but the size of the levels increases your chances of losing your little ones, which can lead to some panicked moments.

That said, the previously mentioned badassery of the animal actually hampers the game. While Shelter saw you play a mother badger, the sequel moves you up the food chain a notch and with it goes some of the tension which made the original so great.

Shelter2aIn a world where endless military games can appear like inadequacy-fueled assertions of masculinity, Shelter was refreshing because it made the player feel vulnerable. Although Shelter 2 isn’t trying to compete with Call of Warfare 9, it has made its protagonist tougher, and in doing so diluted the concept’s power.

The stalking and hunting of the scarce fast food (the creatures are quick!) is enjoyable enough, and the chilling howls of the predatory wolves later in the game signal a welcome return to the fight-or-flight dynamic. You become very aware of the terrain and the seasons, and what threat they pose to your adorable kittens.
However, the original Shelter had me instantly replaying it, just to see if I could keep my babies alive. This time though, despite the bigger levels and excellently-crafted simple gameplay, I put the game down. It’s worth experiencing, but on this evidence the Lynx will flourish in wolf-free Britain.

Three mewling cubs out of five

Shelter 2 Review (PC), 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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