It’s another Saturday, so it must be time for another simulator! This time, you run an animal shelter, providing food, medical care, and shelter to needy animals of your preferred species. What should be a remarkably chill title prime for relaxing with adorable kitties and puppies ends up becoming a weirdly complex balancing act.
Fortunately, there’s no mysterious, shady relative funding your Animal Shelter (Gas Station Simulator, I’m looking at you!), so you don’t have to worry about loan sharks showing up in the middle of the night to break your legs.
Animal Shelter Simulator really is just about fostering animals, caring for them, and getting them adopted.
Overall, Animal Shelter Simulator has a great deal of promise but is hampered by some rather odd design choices that will make or break your play experience. First, as always, let’s talk about the good before we get into the not so great. You start your shelter journey by selecting cats or dogs, and obviously, I selected cats. Then, you operate your computer to select an animal to bring into the shelter; that animal will have issues ranging from malnourishment all the way up to some real veterinary problems, and it’s up to you to balance all of these demands to get the pet healthy and happy enough for adoption.
In the initial tutorial, you learn that your computer basically serves as the hub for all of your in-game information regarding your finances, which, yes, are important, the pets you’re sheltering, and potential forever owners. The really key tab will be, even more so than the “get pets” tab, is the statistics tab, which basically indicates how you’re doing on all fronts at a glance. There, you can keep track of your pet stats as well as your reputation stats.
Also, note that we played Animal Shelter with the new Puppies and Kittens DLC, which adds, you guessed it, puppies and kittens to the title – which is awesome.
All of your pet stats indicate the adoptability of the pet in question; you’ll find some animals are distrustful or are otherwise problematic. You work with the pets until they’re adoptable, mostly by providing food, water, entertainment, petting them, and giving them medical care. Then, you take their pictures that you scan into a digital ad because apparently, the early stages of the game rely on 90s technology.
The computer generates a blurb about the pet you’re putting up for adoption, and your ad gets sent out into the ether for lovely, prospective new owners to peruse. They arrive nearly simultaneously in the same van that drops off your new pets, and assuming you choose the correct pet to place inside the vehicle, they’re off to their forever homes, earning you a nice little donation that you can then use to upgrade your facilities.
That description covers the basics of gameplay. After that, most of Animal Shelter Simulator’s concerns are dealing with updating your facilities and unlocking various features as your reputation in the community increases. The features are nice, and while it’s engaging to expand your facilities, for me, the real fun was in rehabilitating the animals for adoption. However, without the upgrade option, that aspect of gameplay does rapidly become repetitive.
While the music is mostly exactly what you’d expect from a game in this genre, the visuals are surprisingly well-rendered, if again, repetitive. Despite the clear visuals, I would have liked some things to have been telegraphed a bit more clearly. For example, I never did figure out how I was meant to know which animal went in which van, especially if I was adopting out multiple animals at once.
Despite that relatively minor quibble, Animal Shelter is a pretty cute simulator title, especially given that the developers are adding new content. The rehabilitation process is great fun, but it can drag on if you’re less interested in playing dollhouse.
Animal Shelter Simulator retails for $19.99 on Steam, and considering the amount of gameplay, that’s an eminently reasonable price.
Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard
- The photo scanner was legitimately confusing to me at first.
- You can also move various items around in the office even if there’s no real use for those items.
- Dogs and cats have separate areas, which is smart, in the shelter’s layout.