In recent years, the shelter movement has been gaining more and more traction in the United States and other countries around the world, giving rise to slogans like “Adopt Don’t Shop” and “Who Rescued Who?” in an effort to help neglected cats, dogs, and other animals find loving homes. To The Rescue! from Little Rock Games and Freedom Games, takes the premise of a dog shelter and runs with it to the simulation genre, where everything ends up sooner or later. Looking for a fur-ever friend? Let’s check it out.
To the Rescue! follows your self-named protagonist and your chosen canine companion while you run a dog shelter. There’s both a story mode and a sandbox mode, both of which walk you through the mechanics of keeping your furry charges healthy and happy until they can find their family. Much like a real shelter, you have to deal with keeping the animals fed and watered, but also prevent the spread of diseases, heal injuries and sicknesses, keep them and their cages clean and play with them to keep them happy. There are also community events and social media to deal with, tracking the shelter’s financials and reputation as well as leveling up your skill tree and expanding your kennel and facilities. It’s a lot to take in at first, and it’s clear that the developers were aiming to make this as realistic a simulation as possible, while still keeping it as a fun game to play.
Part of where To the Rescue! stumbles is that there are mismatched difficulty curves. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the start of the game before you’re able to hire other people to work at the shelter, but when you still have to take care of at least 12 dogs by yourself, keeping them all clean and fed with the right type of food. Adding to the fact that you then have community events and can set up play areas for the dogs, it’s a lot to handle. While the game has a skill tree that you can level up to make things easier, a wider range of difficulty customization settings would go a long way to helping. Instead of just being able to set the passage of time and spread of disease sliders, having a way to turn sliders off or to cap out the number of dogs that can show up would be a huge assistance.
That being said, once you do find your footing, To the Rescue! is incredibly fun. Having heard many stories from my best friend who works in a real-life shelter, it’s consistently accurate with topics of diseases and injuries, as well as with the underfunding that seems inherent with the business. However, it also shows, just like in real life, that the people who work and volunteer at shelters do so because, why else? They love animals. It’s a passion venture in real life, and it’s still got a real emotional tug on you in-game. Every time that you consider throwing in the towel, you look at the face of little Sinbad and go “Oh no, these cute pixels have a hold on me.”
The upside to having so many different systems is that you never get bored playing. It’s not a passive management simulator, and if you’re not giving a dog a bath you’re showing around adoptions or playing with them, there’s never a dull moment. Story mode, in particular, has different goals and objectives for you to reach, giving you something to keep striving for.
To the Rescue! has adorable graphics, befitting of a dog-focused game. It’s bright, it’s colorful and its cheery atmosphere lends itself well to the hopeful optimism of helping dogs to get adopted and find their homes. The graphics are a cartoony style, but it works well and meshes with the happy feel of the game. The bright music and smiling dogs also add to that and makes this a great game to play if you’re feeling a bit down with the world.
Unfortunately, To the Rescue! also has quite a few bugs. None were game-breaking, but dogs wouldn’t stay in their kennels and I found my companion dog would change breed daily, as well as a few dogs straight up disappearing from their spots. While I hope this is fixed in future patches, it definitely added an extra dose of frustration to the experience. Partial controller support did also not work like it was supposed to, and I found myself defaulting to the keyboard instead.
To the Rescue! is a fun game, recommended for dog lovers the world over. While the difficulty settings could stand to use an improvement and there’s plenty of bugs to clean up, the optimistic atmosphere and sheer fun of taking care of a shelter full of dogs more than tips the scales in this game’s favor. That being said, where’s the cat-themed DLC?
TechRaptor reviewed To the Rescue! on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Adorable Premise and Cute Dogs
- Bright, Colorful Graphics
- Lots of Systems To Manage
- Lots of Bugs, Including Controller Support
- Not Enough Difficulty Settings, Mismatched Difficulty Curve