Video games present a fantastic world of magic and wonder where you can do anything! That’s why some of the most popular games…don’t involve magic and wonder at all, instead giving you a chance to see the real world from a different perspective. Few of us will ever get the chance to run a dog shelter, after all, but To The Rescue! lets you give it a shot and learn all about why these places need every donation they can get.
When you come across a stray dog, the obvious thing to do is to try and find its owner. That’s not a big deal with a little elbow grease…but it brings to light the fact that this is just one stray dog out of many around the city. With a little help from the mayor, you’re able to start working on a fantastic new dog shelter that’ll serve as the canine repository for the whole city. Think of it like a dog library except you don’t have to bring the dogs back.
Nobody said that running a dog shelter was going to be all fun and games, though. I mean, the cute, happy art and focus on adorable four-legged pals certainly implied it, but nobody said it. It’s good that they didn’t, too, because they’d be lying – keeping the shelter in the best possible shape is hard work!
The dogs need to be fed, watered, bathed, taken out for walks and so on. Make sure you’re feeding them their favorite kinds of food, too, because otherwise they’re going to poop more often and that’s going to be a problem all its own. Yes, we’ve got a game where a sizable chunk of your time is going to be spent concerned about poop. Reminds me of the good old days of Conker on the N64. Letting dogs’ needs slip by results in miserable dogs which, in turn, results in both big fines for the shelter and a guilty conscience for the player.
After learning how to do this via a tutorial scenario, you’ll also be able to customize your own shelter. This is pretty straightforward management stuff. You can place kennels, rearrange the shelter and ensure that you’ve got everything you need for your menagerie. Properly designing your shelter can drastically improve your efficiency, which is important since you’re going to be down to the wire right from the start. You can, mercifully, hire some help eventually, but those first couple sessions are going to be a doozy as you desperately try to keep the plates spinning.
Of course, all of that’s only half of your purpose in running a dog shelter. You’re not keeping all these dogs for your own good, after all! When visitors show up looking for a companion, it’s on you to match the right person with the right pupper. You’ll do this via little mini-dog-shows where you put several of your dogs on display, hoping their sheer cuteness can break through the client’s reluctance. If it does so, they’ll adopt, which gets you paid and keeps shelter space open for incoming canines.
Clients have their own preferences in terms of what they’re looking for in a dog and you’ll have better luck if you try to suit those preferences, but you’ve also only got so many dogs with any given trait, so it may be prudent not to show everyone your top dogs as you’ll soon run out.
As hectic as the game can be, the presentation helps reinforce a cute and endearing feel so you’re, uh, slightly less angry as all your dogs wither into husks. It’s got a classic, rounded aesthetic that brings to mind old-school Flash games. Likewise, the soundtrack is relaxing and enjoyable, and while it’s unlikely anyone’s going to be barking for it once they’ve dropped the game for the day, it’s a perfectly reasonable accompaniment to shelter life.
Fans of management games like Diner Dash are probably going to have a good time with To The Rescue! and its brand of hectic pet care. Likewise, it’s a great choice for dog lovers – or maybe not, given the near impossibility of ensuring every pooch is happy and comfortable. It’s not the deepest of management games, focusing more on overwhelming you with dogs to care for, but as a cute example of the difficulties faced by animal care professionals, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.