Shelter by Survivalist Games
Available on Android, Windows Phone, iOS.
Reviewed mainly on Android, tested also on Windows Phone.
Shelter is a mobile card/deck building game where you – the survivor – try to battle your way to your lady friend through zombie infested areas, picking up allies on the way. The premise of the game is simple and easy to grasp, as most of us have a basic understanding of what the zombie apocalypse is all about.
Shelter is a single player game, where you control the survivors and try to inspect and loot different locations. A map shows you which locations are available for inspecting, and you get to choose where to go to. All the locations are – obviously – infested by different kinds of zombies, and as you inspect the locations you are forced to battle your way to the loot.
Battling zombies is the main part of the game, and the battling done by playing cards. The duel – as the battle mode is called – is won when all the brain devouring zombies have been demolished. If the duel is won, the survivors are able to loot the area and get more supplies to help them in coming encounters with zombie hordes. This means that the player gets more cards into her deck. The duel is lost if the zombies manage to drain the survivors of hit points (health), and if the player loses no new cards are added to the player’s deck.
There are five pre-played barricade cards, with a certain amount of hit points and armour, which separate the blood thirsty zombies from the survivors. The zombies – controlled by the computer – draw and play cards from their deck of zombie cards. As a zombie card is placed on the duel table, the zombie can attack the barricades and try to destroy them. The barricades hold until they are out of hit points. Then the zombies can approach and get into the barricade slots, closer to the survivors. If the zombie is able to stay in the barricade slot without getting killed, it deals damage to the survivors. The amount of damage dealt is determined by the strength of the attacking zombie.
The survivor has a certain amount of hit points and a certain amount of action points. The hit points decrease when zombies get into the barricade slots and attack. The action points determine how many actions you can play per turn. The different cards you play cost a different amount of action points, so you are forced to think ahead. The action points regenerate every turn, but your health (the hit points) only regenerates between duels.
The survivor can defend herself against the zombies by bringing guns into play. The guns are placed on the duel table and will not take up space in the players hand. They deal a certain amount of damage, and have different kinds of special abilities that make it easier to kill the more equipped living dead. The guns have a certain amount of ammo, and they run out as you shoot away. The survivor can also attack with different melee weapons, such as chains or screwdrivers. It is also possible to increase the amount of action points per turn, reload guns or strengthen the barricades by playing special cards. After a victorious duel you get to pick new cards for your deck. The deck can be customized (to some degree) between duels, and as the story progresses you will get new allies with new kinds of cards to help you. Every time you enter a duel you can choose which of your allies you want to take with you.
The gameplay is pretty easy, and quite addictive when you get the hang of it. The duels are a lot of fun, but the tutorial that explains the gameplay is extremely exhausting. There is a lot of text popping up on the screen, and a lot of seemingly complex rules being explained. Getting through the tutorial seems harder than actually battling zombies, but hang in there! It’s worth it. (Or go ahead, just start playing. Who needs instructions, anyway?)
At first the mechanics of the game might seem confusing. How do the zombies work and how do they move? What is my draw limit? All of this is soon forgotten, as the playing itself is so much fun. It’s easy to stop caring about how the rules actually work, as the basics are simple and enjoyable enough. The computer makes sure you don’t do anything you are not allowed, so you are not really able to mess up. (I did at first mistake the “lock and chain” -card for a some sort of an improvement on the barricade, though, and as I played it I realized I had just dealt damage to my own barricade. Whoops! Don’t do that.)
Shelter is not a two-minute quickie, as the dueling takes some time. You might want to keep that in mind when you start playing. This is not a game to kill time with during a dull elevator ride. You will not be done (and you don’t want to be!) by the time you reach your floor. The game will keep you entertained for longer than you would imagine.
The graphics are nice. They mimic the style of comic books, and I would happily buy this game as an actual deck of cards! That way I could also play it with my friends and not have to settle with playing against a computer.
The piano heavy soundtrack vaguely resembles that of the movie “Requiem for a Dream”, but unfortunately the player seldom gets to hear more than one small part of the soundtrack that plays repetitively over and over again. This is highly annoying, and a big reason for the dullness of the tutorial. Luckily you are able to mute your mobile device when you start feeling like stabbing yourself in the ear.
All in all the game is neat and highly entertaining for those who enjoy card games and zombies. If you are looking for something different, and are not looking for an action packed point and shoot -type zombie killing game, this could definitely be something for you. After getting through the tutorial and ignoring the repetitive soundtrack, the game can easily bring you entertainment for hours.
+ fun gameplay
+ nice graphics
+ something different for the zombie-lover
– exhausting tutorial
– repetitive soundtrack
– only single player