Sheltered is about living your days mostly below the ground as you attempt to guide your family to survival. This plays out of the course of days or even years depending on luck and your ability to manage this group of growing people. It starts off with full customization of your pixel family and even a pet of choice from a number of selections available. From there the action begins and an optional very brief tutorial can be played if desired. After that point you're really just left alone to decide what happens and possibly the fate of the people within the shelter. It's got a simple layout showing the shelter area below which can be expanded upon and a small higher layer of the outer world. There's a van which can be fixed up sitting out there along with two key elements for survival including an oxygen filter and a water filter. Like everything else in the shelter these will need to be looked after to fix them or even upgrade them when you get the right supplies. As you progress everything will be given upgrade options as you reach higher work bench tiers and therefore the access to better living fixtures. The shelter will also not only grow in size, but in the number of people as well if you choose to welcome others and they'll need to gain thrust with you before assisting in most tasks. One of the bigger tasks of survival is sending people out to scavenge in the world surrounding the shelter. There's a large map present with many areas to scavenge around and there's also great caution need when doing so. There are all sorts of events or even hazardous things that can happen, but it's necessary to keep stock up in order to keep the shelter running.
The game carries the pixel art style featuring two viewing options and easy tab selections for differing team members. At its core the game is a micromanagement title having you watch over the people and guide them in their day to day lives. This includes things like keeping hydrated; full of food, clean and being entertained as so they don't go crazy. Paint colors can also do wonders for their lives if you can collect some and dye it for differing moods, but most of all make sure everyone is able to get enough sleep. There are also many hazards out there in the wasteland such as radiation or mainly other people which can come in with all sorts of random events. These are of course the most important to watch out for as it could very well cost your people their lives or be beneficial for trading. There's also a fast forward feature as well present if you'd like to speed up tasks, but be cautious that you don't miss any radio broadcasts.