Humans react differently to animal violence. I imagine I’ve seen about 200 on-screen deaths over the past few days, but at no point did I feel bad or empathise with the opposition. But every second of the Shelter’s trailer, where a mother badger must protect her tiny cubs, was like a force choke right in the feels. That hurts all over, let me tell you. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to play it given what it did to my heart rate. The horrible sense of death, of Mother Nature’s cruel indifference, the looming awfulness of it all. It’s is right here in a stealth game about badgers. Developers Might and Delight better be offering hugs in the comment section below.
So how does being a mama badger translate to mouse and keyboard? You’ll hunt the land for food, snuffling out good eats in the ground and whacking a tree to make fruit fall. And you’ll have to protect the little ones from predators: according to the game, a badger can whack a fox until it goes all floppy and DOES NOT DIE (LALALALALA – IT’S ALIVE – LALALA). Things get a lot more tense when birds decide it’s time for lunch and start circling the colony of badgers: the shadow it casts telling you it’s time to find a hidey hole for your babies.
Trailer time. If the cute squeaks don’t get to you, then I doubt you’re actually human.
No release date, but it’s begging on Greenlight right now.
As an aside, I watched both the Xbox One launch and the previous PS4 announcements. Developers and publishers talked a lot about about graphics and immersion and “emotion”, as if seeing the pores on a character’s skin or the hair on their arms will make people connect with what’s on screen. All Shelter needed was some squeaks and a sense of connection between the badger family and it got to me.