Animal Shelter Sim

Animal Shelter Simulator Review

Game: Animal Shelter Simulator
Genre: Simulator, Education, Lifestyle
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox One/X/S and PS4/5)
Developer | Publisher: Games Incubator | Ultimate Games
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £13.49 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: April 21st, 2023

Review code used, with many thanks to Ultimate Games.

Ever wanted to run an animal shelter or rescue centre? Well, now is your chance! In Animal Shelter Simulator you have the opportunity to rescue abandoned dogs and cats, regain their trust and make ideal matches with new owners.

Will I be purring with success? Or growling with frustration?

Welcome to My Animal Shelter

Animal Shelter Sim
Welcome to My Shelter – the scenery is great!

You get to choose whether to start with dogs or cats. You then have a list of tasks to complete, the first being finding the computer and taking in an animal. Depending on the background, it can be difficult to read the task list.

Animal Shelter Sim
My first cat, Hazel.

However, the instructions are comprehensive. They guide you through the process of taking in an animal, ordering food and water, petting and playing with the creature. These activities build friendship and once up to 80%, you can create an advert to find a new owner.

Animal Shelter Sim
Apparently, this is a good photo!

You’ll need a photo, so back to the computer and online shop to order a camera. For the picture to register properly, the green eye and paw need to be visible. Once you are happy with your photo, you scan it into the computer, ready to load it into the advert.

Animal Shelter Sim
My first adoption advert!

Luckily, you only need to upload the photo; the blurb is already there. You will soon get some responses to your advert. Doing a virtual inspection of the potential new owners will identify their conditions and help you make the best match.

Once you select the most appropriate candidate, you place the animal in the van and off it goes to its new home. How much money that person will donate and how much your reputation will increase depends on how well the traits/conditions match between pet and owner.

Animal Shelter Sim
Who to choose next?

The next task is to hand over two more animals. Back again to the computer to look at the available pets. Each animal has a little bio, although there is no correlation between this wording and that for the later advert.

Build, and the Tutorial Continues

Animal Shelter Sim
It’s a bit of a squeeze!

Depending on whether you are initially caring for cats or dogs, your next task is either to build a clinic or a washing station, respectively. There isn’t a huge amount of spare space to fit the building into, but with some careful manoeuvring (or rearranging), it’s possible.

Animal Shelter Sim
I was hoping not to drop it anywhere else!

It was at this point, I regretted opting for cats as my initial animal. The game instructs you to take your next cat to the clinic, where you have to use tweezers to remove a tick.

Animal Shelter Sim

For those caring for dogs, it’s the task of washing them. A quick shampoo, sponge, hose down and blow dry, before taking them to the enclosure.

For either cats or dogs, you repeat the process, handing over two more animals to complete the tutorial. I wish I found out how to run, as there is a lot of toing and froing from the cages to the computer.

Expand, Swap Over, and the Tutorial Continues

Animal Shelter Sim
My first dog!

The next task is to expand your animal shelter. You receive expansion passes as your reputation increases, and at this point, you should have, at least, one pass to use. With the extra land, you can build a dog or cat cage. You are then able to take in the different animal. It was disappointing not to be able to play with the new animal type quite the same as the first – you need an enclosure for that – and at this point those are unavailable.

Animal Shelter Sim
First aid supplies.

Your final detailed task is to take in a sick animal. This is so you can learn how to take blood samples and administer medicines. You can then play how you want, increase your reputation and purchase all the different buildings. If you do encounter something new, like the photo studio, you receive on the spot instructions.

Hounded by Tutorials!

I like the way the game gives instructions and then lets you practise what you have learnt. However, it takes around 2-3 hours to complete all the tasks, and there are limitations to what else you can do in the meantime. But the tutorials/tasks don’t cover all aspects – the cages were getting dirtier, with no guidance as to using a mop or broom. Boxes were piling up outside from all the shopping orders, without instruction on putting them in the trash. It would be easy to include these activities in one of the tutorials.

Unfortunately, I encountered bigger issues than not knowing how to clean. One of my cats became ill, but I hadn’t reached that part in the tutorials. I could buy a syringe for blood sampling, but even when I knew what medicine I needed, I couldn’t buy the pills. My cat got sicker and sicker and was eventually, removed. It was heartbreaking.

The Purrfect Highs of Animal Shelter Simulator

Animal Shelter Sim

One of the most endearing aspects of Animal Shelter Simulator is the ability to play with the animals. It’s adorable to see the cats bouncing around after the laser or the dogs’ tails wagging as they fetch the ball.

Animal Shelter Sim
Special delivery!

If you can make it to the yard in time, it’s fun to see the drone drop off the parcels.

Animal Shelter Sim
Awesome match!

And there is something very satisfying about making a really good match between pet and owner.

The Pawful Aspects of Animal Shelter Simulator

Animal Shelter Sim
I need more space!

Trying to place the buildings was difficult. I couldn’t get the ‘snap to grid’ to work, and the trees near the gates just got in the way. You can buy expansion passes, but they are expensive and money is hard to make.

Animal Shelter Sim
It took 10 seconds to grab it.

Items like the broom, mop, ball and laser pen require a steady hand to grab them. Initially, I was replacing the items against the fence, but eventually, I kept them in my pocket rather than having the stress of trying to pick them up again.

Animal Shelter Sim
Too many?!

There are only 6 photo slots available, and no guidance on how to get more. There is no film to buy, and buying a new camera didn’t work. After testing various ideas, it transpires you need to delete both the digital and physical version of the same photo to free up a slot. Alternatively, just delete and throw away the photo after using it.


There are some excellent user options, including turning off the vertical and horizontal head movement when walking, as well as the standard camera inverting and audio options.

When you start a new game, there are various options to select, including turning off the missions – great for a replay. There are some preset game levels. I tested the ‘easy’ option and although I got more money in donations, it took longer for the pets to get to 80% friendship.

There is an inconsistency with the controls. Sometimes it was the ZL button to place an animal, but at other points it was the ZR button. Using the computer in the office was really frustrating – clicking the A button to enter a section was fine, but you have to use the on-screen ‘back’ button to exit it, as using the B button takes you out of the computer. To exit the build mode, you use the + button and to exit the gallery, it’s the X button.

On starting a new game, you can rename the centre, but it just reverts to the default option. A couple of times, when taking in pets, their name box remained on the screen. Three blood samples vanished and turned up later behind a tree (I’m sure this would fail health and safety checks!). And the game crashed at least 5 times.

There is no touchscreen functionality and I found the writing slightly too small for comfortable handheld play.


The concept of Animal Shelter Simulator is really great. I like the idea of running my own animal shelter, and the game gives some great educational insights into animal care and management.

However, the awkward use of the controls and the game’s instability left me feeling too frustrated to find it truly enjoyable. I hope the developers can spend more time improving Animal Shelter Simulator, as there is a really good game hiding in the current offering.

Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure I'm not sure

We love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.