Animal Shelter Simulator is a lifestyle simulation developed and published by Ultimate Games. I thoroughly enjoy lifestyle and business-simulation games. Throw animals into the mix, and you have me sold. But does it stand out against other sim games?
Animal Shelter Simulator begins with you, a nameless and faceless protagonist, as the game is in first-person mode. In the beginning, there isn’t much to your shelter. You have an office, a dumpster area, and outdoor dog kennels. Then, the tutorial begins teaching you the shelter’s goals and the gameplay’s controls. Once that’s done, it seamlessly goes into regular gameplay.
Everything is done on the computer in the office. You can buy food, toys, hygiene products, medicine, and more. You can also view which animals need rescuing, which are currently at the shelter, read emails, etc. First, you’ll want to bring a dog to the shelter. Once you do that on the computer, you go to the front gate and get the pup out of the mobile adoption van. Then, the gameplay is as simple as hanging out with the animals until their adoptability meter is maxed out.
The adoptability meter measures how ready an animal is to find their forever home. To bring the meter up, you’ll need to ensure they’re well-fed, get plenty of cuddles, and have time to play. Once it’s maxed out, it’s time to go on the computer and send out an advertisement for the animal. Submissions will roll in (although only about four or five at a time), some requesting the advertised pet and others simply looking for any dog or cat.
Animal Shelter Simulator won’t let you send an animal home to any family. Each dog and cat has individual traits (troublemaker, shy, aggressive, kind-hearted, etc.). They also have special conditions. For example, they may need a big house, a home without other dogs or cats, a home without children, just to name a few. The people who apply will have their wants and needs for the animal. You must compare the applications with the animal and match as many traits and conditions as possible.
When you match the animal well, it’ll get adopted, and you’ll earn points. After a certain amount of points, the shelter will level up in rank. Gaining a new rank in Animal Shelter Simulator will unlock new items in the shopping area and new buildings for the shelter. The person who adopts your animal will then send a thank you email with a generous donation, which is how you make money in the game.
Some buildings you can access are a vet clinic, washing station, indoor kennels for cats and dogs, etc. You can go into “build mode” from the computer to rearrange the buildings on your lot and expand the lot to make more room. A bigger and better shelter is certainly nice, but you don’t have employees to manage. It’s only you running the shelter. So, the bigger it gets, the more animals you have to juggle.
It’s not stressful, but it does get busy. Every animal needs individual attention for cuddles and play, and you must ensure all the water and food bowls are filled. Dog poop must be picked up in the yard, and litter boxes must be cleaned. Also, the animals get sick or injured relatively often. They’ll also get dirty, too, and need a bath.
For the most part, the gameplay in Animal Shelter Simulator is one fluid motion. I got into a good routine with my animals. I’d bring them in, give them a bath, let them eat, then bring them out to play. By that time, their adoptability meter was full and I was able to get them adopted. Rinse and repeat. It got difficult the more animals I had. Add in a few glitches, and the game was less than favorable.
First, Animal Shelter Simulator was originally released on PC and it shows. Everything you do is based on a white dot in the center of the screen (supposedly the mouse). Everything needs to be precise, so picking up small items is a pain. For instance, to give an animal a treat, you need to click on their mouth. To remove a tick, you need to find the tick in the mass of fur and then precisely click on it with the tweezers. For the most part, these aren’t huge issues. It was just annoying.
Also, some glitches occurred. I once ordered some things from the shop and when the box arrived, it told me I had no room in my inventory. Even after I completely emptied my inventory, the box still wouldn’t open for me. So, I had to buy the items again. The game crashed once, which was fine since it autosaves frequently. However, whenever it autosaved, the game froze for a few seconds.
My biggest grievance with Animal Shelter Simulator is that I wasn’t able to get attached to any of the animals. You can rename them, but that’s it. It’s quick to get their adoptability meter up, so they’re out of the shelter as quickly as they arrive. Eventually, the game grows repetitive. Once you get into a routine to care for the animals, there isn’t anything else to do.
I had fun playing Animal Shelter Simulator. Despite the repetitiveness, it’s a game I’ll go back to here and there. It’s a simple simulation allowing the bare minimum mechanics so anyone can play. However, some performance issues and glitches may bring you back to reality. If you’re looking for a sim game that’s low-key without all the management stress, then certainly give this one a try.
Review: Animal Shelter Simulator (Nintendo Switch)
Animal Shelter Simulator has a cute premise to care for dogs and cats. The gameplay is fun but can get repetitive. Also, the controls are clunky to start until you get used to them.