Infected Shelter: Short Review: An Oddly Fun Zombeat-em-up (Available NOW!)

     Sometimes you find a game that looks kind of silly, and kind of dumb, but you go and give it a shot anyway.  And sometimes those games turn out to be truly unexpected gems.  Developer Dark Blue Games' Infected Shelter happens to be exactly that type of game.

     Infected Shelter is a simple at first glance a randomly generated, post-apocalyptic, beat-em-up, rogue-lite.  I say simple at first glance because playing it somehow sucks you in.  There's something special at the core of the game that just clicks.  It hits the right buttons for fans of the previously mentioned genres.

     The graphics have their own style- they're a cartoony, almost paper cut-out style- and there's a threadbare story, but the music and gameplay are absolutely intuitive and on point.  Controls are easy to grasp and quite fluid (though the really early access version had a small lag at some points, the full release version feels much tighter and responsive).  I'd highly recommend using a controller over a mouse and keyboard, but once you are dropped into the action things become truly fun.

     The game lets you choose whether or not you want to begin with a short tutorial or not, with one of four selectable characters- a one-legged soldier, a guitarist, a builder, and my personal and hilarious favorite a girl that swings her wheelchair-bound grandfather around as a weapon.  Characters can do special move finishers that made me laugh every time, and now with the full release players can jump in with up to 3 other players via co-op to share in the zombie-slaughtering amusement.
     The difficulty curve starts out a bit steep, but turns around relatively fast as you collect new items, new clothes (which alter how the characters special stats change, like the nurse costume adds healing, and so on), and blueprints for a ton of new weapons.  Sure, players will be dying a lot, but in this game it never feels like a bad thing, because you can easily mow through waves and hordes of zombies over and over again after obtaining new items.  That may seem monotonous, but Infected Shelter has a certain allure that kept drawing me back in for another try, so it never reached that point.

     It's not often I find games like Infected Shelter that I can hop on and enjoy for 5 minutes or 5 hours at a time.  The game is filled with a gloriously gory hilarity.  Infected Shelter is for fans of things like Castle Crashers or Dead Cells.  It may not have the depth of many triple A games, but it has more than enough heart to make up for it.  In a way Infected Shelter is the equivalent of a video game candy bar, sugary-sweet entertainment, while the major triple A titles would be nutritious full meals that take a lot of time to eat and digest.  It may not be for everybody, but it can damn well hit the right spot when the craving hits, and I highly recommend it.  On the whole, Infected Shelter is a simple and engaging rogue-lite beat-em-up to occupy fans of either genre for hours on end.

     Infected Shelter on [ Steam ] for $9.99, but is 10% off until Nov. 18th.

*An early access review copy was provided by the developer. Thank you!