Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘Fallout Shelter’
We try and avoid mobile games that come with in-game purchases, but this one gets a pass because it hasn’t been designed around trying to squeeze extra dollars out of the players pocket, and carries with it a solid brand.
Bethesda Studios is well known for it’s detailed, expansive fictional worlds. The fantasy setting of The Elder Scrolls is good, but it’s Fallout’s wasteland that stands out as genuinely creative. Set in a world where the bombs fell during the Cold War of the 50s, and most of the human race fled into underground ‘vaults’ to survive. In the well known role playing games you often play a vault-dweller exploring the wide world for first time. Swarming with survivors, mutants and other dangers, it’s a rough time. Life in the Vaults are hardly easy living though.
In this new perspective on the franchise you play the role of an Overseer in a Vault at the beginning of the apocalypse. You have people turning up at your door and you must put them to work to maintain the isolated society. The bulk of the game follows a pattern of managing resources, building a population, fending off intruders and keeping everyone happy. As you draw in more survivors (or breed some) you unlock more rooms that provide resources and skills for the people.
Completing challenges can unlock more bottle caps and lunch-boxes of bonus goodies, including weapons and armour. These comes in handy when Radroaches or Raiders get into the Vault and need to be taken down. The only other way to obtain such items is to explore the wasteland, a largely uninteractive mechanic where your Vault Dwellers are sent out to try and salvage items of note. You can track their activities and call them back when needed but beyond choosing who to send there’s little involvement with this aspect of the game. You’d need to be cautious about sending out to many people, as it could leave your home undefended.
The only other decision left to be made is when to ‘rush’ production of a resource. This helps stave off problems from running out of power, food or fresh water but comes with the risk of starting a fire of getting infested with Radraoches. Without these basics the whole system can collapse as you are left unable to produce RadAway to keep your people healthy, so it’s often a risk that you’ll need to take.
Presentation wise the game is hit and miss. The graphics are lovely, and the 3D rooms are imaginatively done giving a strong sense of space. The characters modelled after the Fallout logo are charming enough even if they have only a limited range of facial features and the large headed children are a bit creepy. The only major downsides is the oft repeated snatches of music that accompany most menus begin to grate after a while, and the whole game really chews up the battery (we played on an iPhone 6+). Don’t plan on playing if you’re expecting an important call.
If this is the genre of game you like to pass the time with, Fallout Shelter is one of the better options available. Although the option to purchase better bonuses is present it doesn’t constantly try to milk it like Tiny Tower or withhold the best items like the deplorable The Simpsons: Tapped Out. If this isn’t your type of game then it will likely only hold your attention for a short time. It’s free to download, so you’ve got nothing to lose by trying it out.