Infected Shelter Preview

Gamers everywhere will likely know the frustration of major Triple-A titles hitting the market, taking several hours to install on their console of choice, and be kitted out to the teeth with graphical wonders and in-depth storytelling; only to then find that the gameplay is pretty sub-par and just simply underwhelming. This completely drains the fun out of the experience of the game and makes you wonder when you’re actually going to start enjoying it.

It’s no surprise that because of this, smaller, independent developers are putting together smaller scale games which allow a player to get stuck in from the get-go – and Infected Shelters does just that by setting you free into the game itself to cause havoc, kill a relentless number of enemies, and, in it’s simplest form, be pretty badass.

Infected Shelter is a rogue-like/rogue-lite 2D brawler where the player battles oncoming hordes of enemies and bosses, with a variety of weapons, from guns to swords, and perks to aid them in their run. The developer and publisher Dark Blue Games Ltd compare it to Dead Cells, Mortal Kombat and Castle Crashers, but it feels closer to the former of the three than the latter two. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic cartoon world and doesn’t focus on the narrative. Rather, it drops you straight into the fight, and leaves you to enjoy each run, as you progress, battle, learn, die and most importantly, improve in order to get further on your next run. I was able to get my hands on an early access code for Steam on PC. Being a typical console focused gamer, I was looking forward to widening my genres of games on my more demanding PC. 

The initial cut scene does seem to give a small window into the story of this world, and its a very typical plotline as far as post-apocalyptic games go. A brave scientist, busy at her work saving the world from the pending biohazard, is ambushed by a bunch of militant raiders and whisked away into scenes of violence, savagery and the collapse of your typical civilisation.

Your job, whether you choose to accept it or not, is to progress through the oncoming hordes of infected citizens and those who are battling to take control of the world. There is a small number of characters available from the get-go, although only two ‘classes’ were available on the beta available for this review – the guitarist, or the grandpa and granddaughter combo – with their own stats and move set. This will likely be entertaining for new players as the classes are quite wacky and use such silly moves that it begs the question “how on earth did they make it this far anyway?”

Infected Shelter can be played on your own, or in co-operative mode, and it’s easy to say that you’ll have a laugh in either case. As a roguelike/lite game, you battle through the randomly generated maps, again and again, taking away currency-like ‘infected samples’ that you can exchange for upgrades – whether it be additional skills, new weapons for your next run, or outfits and artefacts which will boost your stats giving you more of an edge. This isn’t a game you will have maxed out on in a matter of hours. It’s going to take you a fair few runs in order to unlock the majority of the extras available.

You can jump straight in, providing you feel comfortable enough with the corresponding commands, or you can walk through a tutorial area, which will let you know everything you need to start causing mayhem. The game recommends playing with a controller instead of your mouse and keyboard, and I can understand why. The game heavily relies upon different skills and special moves at times where you could be facing a large number of enemies, and you simply don’t need the hassle of finding the right key as a new player. From the outset, it feels like it’s been built with controllers in mind, and with your controller of choice at the ready, this is easily a game you could sink a good dozen hours or so in to.

Infected Shelter is cool to look at from a graphics point of view. It isn’t going to blow you away with realism, facial features, shadows and lighting but it isn’t meant to either. The graphics and art style match the whole concept of the game – just outright fun and wackiness. Despite the cartoon-like style though, there is plenty of blood and special execution moves which will make you strangely smile from ear to ear.

Not only that, but the general behaviour of the surrounding NPC’s will have you pulling that famous Jackie Chan “WHAT?!” face made popular by the meme that’s been around for some time. One instance I found myself gurning at my PC was when I saw a group of uninfected hikers, casually strolling around whilst I’m taking a shotgun to a horde of zombies. I guess even in the eye of Armageddon, you’ve still got to track those steps on your Fitbit.

When playing, the game will increase in difficulty as you progress further each run. It becomes easier when you start to reap the benefits of your accrued bonuses and perks, but the enemies will still face as a challenge. The boss fights are entertaining but unforgiving. It will drive you mad having made it through the first few hordes of zombies and soldiers only to fall at the first boss fight. But that’s okay, as you’ll come away each time having learnt something new. Whether it be the pattern of moves from a particular enemy or boss, or just what combination of moves you use that will be most effective.

There is some environmental sound in the background, with music to match the setting of the game. But this isn’t a game changer. It’s difficult to notice when you’re tearing up bodies and splattering zombies all over the show. But whilst it doesn’t stand out, it meets the purpose, by giving you your combat and general character sound effects.

Whilst the game isn’t overly focused on its storytelling, it would have been nice to have a bit more of an idea of what happened in the world to lead up to where you start. This would stop the player from feeling like the game is a generic post-apocalyptic title and one you feel just that little more invested in.

Infected Shelter is an opportunity to have some easy and fun game time. It’s easy to play in short bursts, but just as fun playing over longer periods of time. It’s definitely got some replayability, but not a game that you would crave getting your next fix of. It’s more ideal as a break game – one that you can play in between your major releases – or if you have a quick 30 minutes spare and just want to get stuck in.

Infected Shelter is coming to PC/Steam/Mac/Linux, with early access from 8 May 2019, and Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Q4 of 2019. No official price has been confirmed as of yet, but I would expect this game to retail around the £20 price tag given the state of the game, content and replayability. Any higher than that, then I think this would be better suited to being purchased during a sale.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this Preview. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Summary

Infected Shelter is a fun 2D brawler roguelike/roguelite set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with wacky characters and gameplay alike.