LifeisXbox’s Animal Shelter Simulator review | If I could, I would work with animals in my day-to-day job. Especially dogs because they are everything that is good in this world. Unfortunately, things aren’t always going the way you want them to go and then games offer a great escape. So when you show me a game called Animal Shelter Simulator, my heart skips a beat and I get insanely excited. After a successful PC release earlier this year, Games Incubator’s game made its way to the Xbox platform. I hadn’t found the time to try it out on PC so I grabbed my chance to give this one a swirl on the Xbox Series X!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Save dogs and cats | What better way to spend your day saving dogs and cats, am I right?! In Animal Shelter Simulator, it’s your goal to look after, treat and give shelter to stray and abandoned dogs and cats. You can start with either dogs or cats but soon enough you’ll have to take care of both in your shelter. I like that you can choose which species you start out with. Finding your furry friends a new, warm home is a daily task you must not take lightly, and I took that job very very very seriously! I also liked that each animal had its own personality that came in the form of traits and conditions, as well as a background story for them.
- Building your shelter | There’s no denying that Animal Shelter Simulator offers a lot of things to do, which is very fun honestly. Of course, you have your shelter that you can expand as you wish. When boosting your reputation, you will earn expansion tickets so you can buy and build more buildings. Placing and moving buildings, furniture and decorations is vital as you’re working with a certain amount of available space. Besides the dog/cat cages and their playgrounds, there’s a lot more that needs to be built. There’s a washing station, a clinic, trash cans, extra housing, your office, and even a photo studio. everything is needed to take care of the animals. Some animals come in healthier than others, so an animal might need a stop at your washing station where you shampoo, rinse and dry them before giving them a space in your shelter. Or maybe their leg is hurt and they need some bandages.
- Your computer is your best friend | If you think you’ll be spending a lot of time with the animals, you’re only partly right. You’ll also be spending quite some time in your office, behind your computer. This is thé place where you can do a lot. First off, there is your email. If someone is happy with their adopted dog/cat, they’ll send you an email telling you they’re satisfied and giving you some money. Or when an inspection is on its way, you’ll be notified by email as well. Second, your computer is where you buy everything you need in the shelter. You can order food, medicine, hygiene-related items, toys, and decorations, which will then be delivered in ten seconds by drone. I like that you don’t have to wait long for orders to arrive, since you might run out of food and you know, you don’t want a cat or dog to die. Anyway, third: your computer is where you access the building mode, so that’s quite important as well. Fourth, you can find new dogs and cats to take in as well. A heart will indicate how healthy the animal is. The emptier the heart, the more attention and care the animal will require. Fifth, you’ll be using your computer to take a look at your current residents, create ads for them and find the perfect owner. Based on your animal’s traits and required conditions, you’ll need to find people who match these. I found myself to be very strict with this because you betcha I’m going to find the best possible match for all my babies! Besides these things, you can also take a look at your statistics and important notifications on your computer, as well as look at the pictures you’ve taken and scanned and the encyclopedia where you can find information if you have questions about the game(play).
- Average graphics | Animal Shelter Simulator isn’t the best-looking animal game out there. The dogs and buildings have some details, but for a mere € 15, you can’t really expect high-end graphics AND a lot of features. Still, dogs and cats are cute and in this game, I didn’t really find them that cute because of these average graphics. On top of that, there seemed to be some bugs in there that were too obvious. Sometimes, my dogs would be drooling (at least that’s what I think they were doing) and there was this toxic Green-looking stream on the screen. Very confusing, and downright weird. It also happened that I picked up a dog and walked around, and half of my dog disappeared into the wall of a building because I was walking close to it. It’s just things like this that kind of ruined the experience a bit for me.
- Repetitive gameplay | Even though the game offers a lot, it still felt like of repetitive at times. Take pictures of dogs/cats, create ads, find the perfect match, ship them off, and repeat. Sure, the occasional visit to the washing station or the clinic gives some variety, and playing with your residents is fun, but all in all, the game can get repetitive. It’s more the type of game that I’ll play for an hour and then put down again, which is a shame because I kind of hoped this would be the kind of game that I wouldn’t be able to put down.
- Lack of emotional connection | I would’ve loved to build a more emotional connection with the animals that came into my shelter. And just the whole process of adoption, really. I remember adopting my first dog Chicca and we had to fill in a form, meet with people, let people see our house so everything would be good for her, etc. It was a whole process. In Animal Shelter Simulation, it feels a bit rushed and impersonal. The animal arrives in a van, and then everything starts: taking care of the animal, taking its picture, uploading it on your computer, and creating the ad to promote him or her. You can choose to name the animal, or you can keep the name (s)he has when (s)he comes in. When trying to find a match for a certain dog or cat, you can send someone (I don’t even really know who because there’s never a colleague on my premise) to check out the applicant. This already feels quite distant, but then the worst of it: once you choose a new home, you just put the animal in a van, and poof, they are gone. You didn’t even really meet their new owner(s), or get to say a proper goodbye. I always made it a thing to put the cat or dog in the van, pet them once more, and then see them ship off. At least that gave me some sort of accomplishment, I guess.
What we Disliked
- Chunky controls & bad UI | The absolutely worst part of this game is definitely the controls. I had such a hard time trying to enjoy this game because of the chunky controls. Trying to look around with your right joystick was so goddamn slow, it’s definitely what frustrated me most. I’m not sure why my character was so slow but damned, it was horrible. Another annoying thing was trying to grab a tiny ball to throw at the dogs. Sounds easy enough but when the grass is an annoying kind of green and your pointer dot is a kind of white that doesn’t stand out, it’s kind of hard to grab that goddamn ball. Even if it’s bright red. Add to this the bad and too-busy user interface and you’re totally done with playing. The computer, while helpful, was not that easy to navigate. Especially when you’re in the process of getting a cat or dog adopted. I think this game is definitely a lot more playable on a computer with a mouse and keyboard, rather than on an Xbox with a controller.
How long to beat the story | If I’m not mistaken, you can save dogs and cats until the end of time
How long to achieve 1000G | 50+ hours
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂