Give an animal a forever home in Games Incubator’s Animal Shelter Simulator. That’s the message. But can you meet the challenge when they’re so damn cute? How could you part with these rescues? Easy: draft up an advert, ship them out and foster even more of the tykes.
Saying that you’re an animal lover these days is like saying you like coffee, have a gaming area with exclusive white furnishings, or have a few “interesting” websites on your bookmarks under the guise of ‘other stuff/private’. I’m an animal lover and tick the boxes to the others, but can I stick out this sickly simulator long enough to give it a decent approval?
Animal Shelter Simulator didn’t start well. The music made me want to puke, and I had a feeling I’d be decorating poodles for a doggy pageant. But get past that monotony of ‘chirpy’ music, and the game encouraged me to skip some meals and perhaps ironically neglect my own dog as I was too busy playing with these virtual ones.
I start most simulator reviews with a nod to the ‘grandfather that left you their business’ sentiment. That’s not the case in Animal Shelter Simulator and is void of all that nonsense, allowing you to focus on the gameplay. The office computer is your access to the outside world, allowing you to stockpile your products (cats and dogs), order food, toys, and medicinal items delivered by drones. There’s even access to a build mode where you can extend your premises with tokens and purchase new/upgraded buildings with your reputation points.
You’ll get to name the animals in Animal Shelter Simulator, but based on the sheer volume, you’ll stick with the generated ones. A mini-van will drop off the animals and pick up those with new homes. It’s very hands-on as you literally pick up the dogs and put them in the kennels, or if you’re far enough, the kennels. The same applies to the cats. Essentially, you have to make these desirable for adoption so adhere to their needs like a Tamagotchi, except the lawn cigars here are very real and have to be picked up and disposed of.
All animals in Animal Shelter Simulator must be fed and watered regularly, pet, played with, groomed, washed, and awarded the odd treat. The more you pamper them, the higher their desirability, and once you raise this stat, you’ll take a photo with a Polaroid, scan it into your computer, and then put it up for adoption. Once they’re ‘live’, potential candidates will say why they should get the animal. They’ll say so much, but your staff can also investigate them for some rep points, and you’ll unlock hidden stats. You’re awarded more points if you match the dog to the owner, i.e. a playful dog who likes kids will get more points than a shy dog who doesn’t like people.
Once I got past the music, which really isn’t a big deal to mention again, but I have already, I soaked up the hours. It’s very much a conveyor belt setup, and like similar simulators, there comes the point where you no longer try to take the best photo or position a plant directly outside your office to make it welcoming. Instead, you churn out the animals to build your rep, build your shelter, and then go all out, space-permitting.
As can be expected, Animal Shelter Simulator can be monotonous, and there are a lot of animals to find homes for until you can level up. It’s also a juggle to tend to cats and dogs, plus having multiple homes. Manually picking them up and taking them where they need to be can be arduous, but in all honesty, this game is exactly what I’ve come to expect from this type of game, and for what it’s worth, it’s engaging. Will I be playing this in the months ahead? Probably not unless there are new features added along the way, in which case, it’d be worth re-visiting.
Getting the game on the release date means that Steam reviews are up. To address some of the negative points, I didn’t experience any technical issues on a mid-range setup other than being unable to 100% clean a floor or place a dog down when it was ok to do so. That doesn’t mean others won’t experience any bugs – I didn’t, that’s all. The game is repetitive, but that’s the nature of the simulator. Anyone looking for something more in-depth would be better off getting their veterinary degree or asking their family if they’re up for a spot of roleplay and inserting a thermometer into their sibling’s butthole. As part of the roleplay, naturally.