Most videogames tend to be fairly easy when you first start them, introducing you to the various mechanics and laying on simple challenges to help you get a lay of the land before things start to hot up. That’s not always the case though, with some titles putting you right into the action, going for sink or swim gameplay that tests your skills as well as your patience. And that brings us to Star Shelter an Early Access title on Steam for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to surviving in the desolate void that is space.
Survival is your one and only concern in Star Shelter, there are no massive spaceship battles or monstrous alien races to destroy – a few drones and asteroids appear but nothing else – it’s just you and what remains of a space station. In the beginning a catastrophic accident has occurred meaning you have to get to a life pod, once that has jettisoned you open it to find yourself floating in space, with limited oxygen supply and power for your suit.
As mentioned you’re thrown into the thick of it, the station nearby is your base of operations but it’s completely incapable of sustaining you in its current form. So you need to scavenge nearby debris for suitable parts, which can then be used to craft various items such as solar cells, oxygen producing plants, batteries and much more.
If you’ve played Ready at Dawn’s Lone Echo you’ll instantly feel familiar with the controls – albeit not quite as accurate – as you need to grab objects to move around or when traversing from one piece of debris to another you can use wrist mounted jets. Unlike Lone Echo however you’re not a robot, and those boosts are you ejecting oxygen from your suit. This invariably means very careful planning on where you want to go so you don’t end up floating then suffocating in space.
It’s this balance of features that certainly makes Star Shelter an interesting title – and something very different to most VR experiences currently available. But it does mean getting into the experience can be brutal, expect continual deaths as you learn your way around – there is a tutorial but it’s minimal – trying to find necessary crafting items. Should you die anything you’ve built will remain, but crafting items will be lost. Once you’ve got that foothold and know what to look for, the hold process becomes less daunting and more enjoyable, it just requires patience.
If you’re after a big sprawling storyline or major action sequences you may want to look elsewhere, as this isn’t what Star Shelter offers. It’s all about crafting, exploration and not dying too many times. As an early access title Star Shelter is still rough around the edges yet still offers enough to be of interest. There’s certainly bags of potential to be had depending on which way developer Overflow takes the experience which VRFocus will be keeping an eye on.