I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I am not an experienced gamer like my colleagues. But, I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out these new video games that I likely would have never tried on my own. The past few weeks, I’ve been playing a dog shelter simulator: To The Rescue!
The key code was offered to one of my colleagues and I jumped on the opportunity for two reasons: 1) I want to try games in as many genres as possible. 2) I love dogs. Plus it seemed like it was a great introduction into the world of business simulators – I hadn’t played one since that lemonade stand game on miniclips.com when I was in middle school.
In the game, you are the owner of a brand new dog shelter – and you must care for and adopt out the animals in your care. You have to keep them fed, clean and healthy to increase their adoptability all while matching them to the best possible owners and keeping track of the shelter’s funds and reputation,
This game actually gave me a lot of anxiety. I really love dogs – and the animals in this game poop, get hungry and thirsty, they can get sick – so it can be a lot to take in. The game really only allows you to care for one dog at a time – and there are multiple dogs, who also need attention and all with different needs.
If you want to transfer a dog to another shelter – there’s a whole process to go through (which takes up even more time.) The game also has a euthanasia option — which I was too hesitant to use.
I couldn’t actually believe the game had it as an option. I know they’re not real dogs but I still couldn’t bear the idea of putting them down. But caring for all the animals is overwhelming.
And I was playing the game on easy mode. The time went by as slow as it could and I still couldn’t find enough time to care for all the dogs. They were just constantly coming in. It got exhausting.
To its credit, To The Rescue! does give a fairly comprehensive tutorial and it incorporates into the story fairly well – it doesn’t prepare you for the sheer number of dogs you’ll have to care for.
In some ways this is a good thing, it makes the game more challenging, it forces you to think more about your decisions and prioritize tasks. It’s probably really close to what it’s like actually volunteering for a shelter.
But if you’re just looking to play with some dogs – you’re better off with Nintendogs.
The game is pretty inclusive- although on computers it forces you to use the WASD controls (which I found frustrating) To The Rescue! does allow you to adjust the difficulty of the game, which makes it more accessible to gamers of all skill levels.
But the part I thought was really neat about the game was how it uses they/them pronouns as the default. To The Rescue! refers to all dogs as they or them and it will also refer to your colleagues by they/them pronouns.
I think this was a very nice little touch that I think makes the game more welcoming.
There’s also a nice variety in choices for your player character: you have around 4 options, of different races and genders.
At times, it feels like the game is still a work in progress. There weren’t any major bugs: but the game often took a long time to load – and the controls didn’t always work as they were supposed to. Sometimes when I went to feed a dog or pick up their poop, it just wouldn’t work.
It was very annoying.
But I still had a lot of fun playing the game.
I think it appeals to a wide variety of people and is fairly easy to get the hang of. Even if it is overwhelming.
The gameplay isn’t anything special – but the visuals, music, and premise are enough to appeal to a wide audience.