Shelter Skelter: Sanctuary 17

Well that's what you get when you buy cheap batteries.

Wonder-blog has posted a link to Sanctuary 17, a top-down browser shooter set in some dark, dank, robot-filled tunnels. Say what you like about gamers, we sure know where to have a good time. Sanctuary 17 sees you picking your way through this mysterious maze as an explorer for some last bastion of humanity, collecting equipment for yourself, repairing subsystems for the survivors back home and accessing terminals in a Marathon stylee to piece together the story. More excitingly, it’s also a bit spooky.

Why is it spooky? Well, you’re constantly struggling to locate your foes in the environment, a single hit kills you and the robots happily take pot-shots from their position in the shadows. You learn to operate on sound, quickly falling into a tense routine of bringing up your shield at the sound of lasers and returning shots at their origin, but all the while the pathetic battery that powers all of your gear is withering away. And if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of organic horrors that make no sound, emit no light and seem to exist solely to creep up and be Right There Jesus Christ! when you turn around with the flashlight.

For the most part it’s good, unclean fun, occasionally strolling over into irritation with some of the more brutal level randomisation and the fact that after each death your new “Follower” has to recover that all-important shield from your (occasionally distant) corpse. That said, Sanctuary 17 developers Twofold Secret are choosing to support Sanctuary 17 by selling actual real dead tree manuals containing enemy rundowns, helpful hints and “behind-the-scenes secrets” (!) at €8 per, allowing players to support the project and get some help with that rough difficulty in one move.

Waiting for this to arrive in the post seems hardly ideal when most browser games are devoured within an hour or two of discovery, but that’s just me. If you’re interested and need no namby-pamby manual, Sanctuary 17 can be played right here.


  1. Maltose says:

    So it’s a free online flash game and they’re selling a physical manual for it but not a pdf manual? That’s a bit daft..

  2. TeeJay says:

    Actually having a “paper manual” is kind a nice ‘old school’ touch – a slightly different way of allowing donations, as they imply in their blurb:

    “The 12-page, full-color printed manual for Sanctuary 17 includes basic information on playing the game, a rundown of all the enemies and items you’ll encounter, helpful strategy tips, and even some behind-the-scenes secrets. If you enjoy the game, please consider buying a copy! Your contributions will help support future games and will most likely result in a warm and fuzzy feeling from supporting indie gaming as a whole. Plus, in these days of downloadable content and PDF manuals, who can resist the allure of an actual, physical, bound bundle of papers you can leaf through at your leisure? This is a win-win situation here.”


  3. Thants says:

    You had me at Marathon Style.

  4. jeremypeel says:

    Ooo, sounds lovely, like someone punched Doom 3 into Metacritic and then formed a game based on the top review quotes they found there. I’ll get on to it.

    Also, very nice to have you back Quinns. The appearance of your name has just led me to visit your blog and, lo and behold, there’s a lot of new stuff written about your quest. I’ll read it. Right after I play Sanctuary 17.

  5. jarvoll says:

    How could you call paper manuals namby-pamby? It’s today’s wussy electronic garbage that I find namby-pamby; man up and kill a tree, hold a hefty, flexible brick of knowledge in your hand!

    Alternately, I suppose you might have meant manuals in general being the wussy alternative to learning simply by trial and error, to which I’d counter: real men* play games that require gigantic manuals (or the modern equivalent, a wiki) to avoid hundreds of hours of error in order to figure out how to play: flight sims, Dwarf Fortress, Victoria. Manuals are the opposite of wussy!

    *Disclaimer: tongue-in-cheek stereotype

  6. Thants says:

    Having played it a bit, I think trying to explore a maze when you can only see a tiny bit in front of you is just too annoying. It makes me wish there was a Not-So-Dark version.

    • Rosti says:

      Protip: You might want to make a map. This makes me happier than perhaps it should.

  7. terry says:

    All these great looking line of sight vision based games make me sad that Monaco isn’t out yet.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Me too me too me too, “MONACO!” was my first excitable thought upon seeing this post. Alas…

  8. Malagate says:

    I’m liking it, even though I’m playing it at work without sound! As soon as everyone else leaves the office I might delve deeper inside…

  9. PatientRock says:

    Plus there’s an in-game map.

  10. Ronnie76er says:

    This is just long form goddammed Night Stalker.

    Which is a good thing.

  11. MikeBiggs says:

    I kinda love it :)

    Anyone beaten 11500?

    Also does anyone know what the difference between having a dot and not on the map means? I think the ones with a dot don’t have terminals in them but i’m not sure…

    • sinister agent says:

      I was at 35500, and lived on for a few more minutes without keeping track before I lost my last mook. Presumably based on score, they start sending increasingly tough/intelligent robots out. It becomes very frightening, and frustrating in an ‘entirely my own stupid, reckless fault’ way.

      I think the dots mean there is something other than a terminal – an item room or a generator to be activated. Every room with robots has a terminal in, as far as I can tell.

    • MikeBiggs says:

      @sinister agent

      I completed with a score of 344400, and promptly got annoyed with myself for not exploring more and activating more facilities!

  12. MikeBiggs says:

    Hah! That’s the first time a reply has EVER worked for me :)

  13. Vertel says:

    This may possibly be the worst browser game I have ever played. “Infuriating” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Word to the wise game developer; one-hit kills are NEVER. EVER. EVER. a good idea.

  14. Postal says:

    The dots on the map seem to be safe zones without robots. One of the facilities provides free power charging once you get it started.

  15. televizor says:

    Hey, I found the manual posted online here:

    link to