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Sheltered / 26th of August 2015

The world as we know it is no more; the hustle and bustle of daily life has instead been replaced with the cold desolation of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and where once the world had been teeming with life, there was now none. The setting is most certainly a familiar one, as any Fallout fan will tell you, but the core concept that lays at the heart of Sheltered is less so, toned down from the graphic excess of Bethesda’s efforts, and focused solely upon the survival of a singular family unit as they stumble upon an old fall-out shelter within which they hope to stave off the perpetual threat of nuclear winter. Developed by Unicube and Team 17, Sheltered, arrives on Xbox One and PC later this year, but it’s currently available to download as part of Microsoft’s Game Preview program, which allows gamers to get a taste for man’s denouement with a sixty-minute trial, and believe it or not, quite a lot can happen in just one hour…

My family of five were a curious bunch, most likely because I accidentally sped through the customisation options, leaving me with an all-male group; Charles, Edward, Joshua, Joseph and our dog, Hammo. They stumbled upon the shelter and clambered in, and much like a real person would surely react in this situation, I was simply left stupefied, staring at the screen wondering what on earth I should do next. With basic provisions of food and water already available, my first course of action was to create a sleeping bag so that the team could sleep, well, one at a time anyway, until I found the right materials to extend my domicile to include an extra room, and with it, a new bed.

My family scraped by for the next three days, attending to repairs on the various pieces of equipment housed within the bunker, or cleaning out the bucket that passed for a toilet. On day four, with rations quickly depleting, I sent out the two young boys on a scouting mission to check out a nearby structure, it was an old house not too far from our new home, and within it, they stumbled upon the distended and decaying body of its owner. Thankfully, their mission proved to be a reasonably successful one, for they discovered valuable building resources which allowed me to immediately begin the expansion of my bunker, so I set Charles to work. He always came across as the leader of the group and the most industrious one out of all five family members, so he seemed to perfect choice for the job.

After Joshua and Joseph returned, they both fell ill from a mixture of both radiation and food poisoning, which they used as an excuse to redecorate the bunker with their own vomit. A visitor from the world outside of our little shell arrived at the door, but promptly disappeared before I could answer him and commence trading, Edward was unavailable as he was upgrading our water filter and Charles was sound asleep in the new bedroom that he had just finished building. The day was brought to a fairly triumphant conclusion as Edward managed to double the amount of water that our domicile was able to hold at one time, this, I believed, would likely prove vital to us over the coming days and weeks that would surely follow under my expert supervision.

Day seven in the bunker was a bit of a sore one for us all, Charles, having awoken from a deep sleep following his proud, DIY endeavours, suddenly keeled over and did not move again. He was dead. The group’s morale was knocked for six, heads were lowered and then lowered yet still as Hammo, our trusty canine companion quickly followed Charles into the grave. Well, in reality, Hammo went into the grave that Joseph dug on the surface, whilst Edward harvested Charles for additional food supplies. Sadly, despite having fresh provisions, and meat at that, morale was once again depleted.

The ninth day of our post-apocalyptic adventure was as far as I managed to go, Joseph was set to work repairing the water filter, Joshua (following a quick cleaning frenzy with the group’s new bucket and mop) set off on another scouting mission and Edward, clearly traumatised by the events of the last few days, finally attempted to have a shower, but without ever getting into the makeshift device. Evidently, he was losing his mind, and the family unit as a whole was steadily losing its battle against overwhelming odds, their chances of survival decreasing with each passing second that I was left in charge of their bunker.

And as my time with Sheltered drew to an abrupt close, I stared blankly at the screen ahead, almost mystified by what had just happened, yet there was simply no escaping the most glaringly obvious of conclusions; evidently, I have very little hope of surviving a nuclear holocaust, no matter how many buckets I craft.

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