Before you read this review, I must tell you that I have never played Fallout. This makes my job a little bit difficult. But hey, I’ve done my homework well enough. The game itself works around the basis that Fallout has vaults, which are maintained by an Overlooker. In this app, you are that Overlooker. It’s a great tie-in between the influx of You-Are-God apps (Sims Freeplay, Simpsons Tapped Out, etc.) and the fact Fallout 4 is soon to be released. I downloaded this game because it was recommended in the App Store, and it looked like my sort of time-killer. Cute little people to look after… What could be so difficult about that? What could possibly go wrong?
I had a difficult time getting to grips with this game. That’s not to say everyone will: one of my friends is a hardcorer game than me and he’s doing well. The concept itself is simple enough: build a functioning vault and keep everyone happy and alive. Once one thing starts running out, though, the happiness levels spiral downwards too. Each Dweller has SPECIAL stats, which determine which room they will be happiest in. Due to the luck of the draw, it becomes a pain to maintain rooms which few Dwellers are happy to work in.
There’s also a host of incidents that can affect your Dweller’s happiness stats. Fires, rad roaches, molerats, the lot. There are also the Deathclaws. Just as they do in Fallout, they mess you up. They’re deadly and I’m weirdly scared of them, but it’s nice how true the game has stuck to the franchise it is a part of. In some respects, it makes them less of a pain.
The vault as a whole is quite demanding. You have to have a lot of power rooms in very particular places (once power is low, rooms far away shut down productivity). You need a lot of rooms to provide food and water for the Dwellers. But where is my mass supply of Dwellers to maintain all this? The trick is mass breeding. This is, to start off with, a long process to get people getting it on. But I need the people to spend less time doing it and more time working. You see the problem? There’s always the radio room, but that attracts pests. The only other option is the Lunch Boxes, which have a chance of giving you unique people. But every rose has its thorn.
There are a few things that are extras you can buy in-game (welcome to your average app). The Lunch Boxes are one, and Mr. Handy is another. You get a couple of Lunch Boxes at the start of the game for doing minor tasks, but they’re really there to entice you to buy more. They are useful, as they provide cards of helpful stuff. One of these cards has the potential to be a special character from the Fallout series. I was personally super excited to get a Colonel Flanders one (before I was informed he’s a bad guy, that is). Nevertheless, for fans of the series this is certainly a cool little feature.
Mr. Handy is one of the more recent updates, and users definitely like him. More recently, it is now possible to get him through lucky Lunch Boxes; however it is still available through real life purchase. Having him allows you to have a ‘handy’ (I went there…) helper around one vault floor, and it can also go into the wasteland to collect resources. My previous complaints about strategy logic would probably be dismissed if I did buy him. But I dislike how he’s almost essential.
The graphics are lovely visually. They have a cartoonish charm, and all the characters look a little bit like Scooby-Doo characters. No complaints there. There are a few complaints in terms of the graphical mechanics, however. If you’re zoomed out of the vault, the characters stand and don’t do their little actions as they should. Another glitch I’ve stumbled upon is that after fires, they spend a few minutes randomly blasting the extinguishers after they’ve gained the XP. Yes it sounds minor, but I feel bad enough about endangering my little people without them going on about it.
Another issue I’ve had is the amount of crashing the game suffers from. At first I thought it was my dodgy iPad‘s fault. But then I read up on the subreddit /r/falloutshelter (worth a read if you do decide to download it) that a lot of people have had it crash after a certain amount of gameplay. If you don’t mind your hard work being wasted after a while, then I’d still recommend playing it.
To sum it up, I’ve restarted about three times since playing. This has been largely because of everything I’ve complained about: the crashing, the meticulous vault method, and the Lunch Boxes at the start. Despite my complaints, I can’t knock the game. I tend to find myself checking it, despite knowing it will crash. There’s something addictive and somewhat satisfying about having a little world at your fingertips.
For those of you who enjoy Fallout, I would definitely recommend it. It’s not a cheap spin-off at all: there are so many little details that make it loveable – and it’ll keep you busy until Fallout 4.