Animal Shelter Simulator review

by on March 24, 2023
Release Date

March 3, 2023


As an animal lover, I’m often disappointed by the lack of games involving raising and caring for our furry friends. Outside of early 2000s PC games like Catz and Dogz and the Nintendo DS classic Nintendogs, I can’t really think of many games that let me live my best pet hugging life. Thankfully the simulation genre has come to the rescue, and I am now the proud owner of a virtual shelter in Animal Shelter Simulator.

As you might imagine, Animal Shelter Simulator puts you and you alone in charge of the daily running of your very own rescue centre. Taking in cats and dogs in need of some TLC, it’s up to you to make these cuties happy and healthy, find them potential homes, and expand your facilities to more effectively help even more doggos and moggies in need.

First thing first, you need to choose whether you want to start helping out dogs or cats without a home. Eventually you’ll get to take both in, but for the first hour you’ll just have one type of animal to deal with.

A screenshot of Animal Shelter Simulator

Once your first kitty or pooch is dropped off by the mysterious van that appears at the gate, it’s up to you to ensure its basic needs are met. This means making sure it has food and water, letting it out into the field for a tinkle, and playing with it. This is where you get to experience the first slight difference in gameplay, because if you chose dog you’ll be playing a couple of games of fetch, whereas if you picked cat you’ll move a laser pointer around. It’s not exactly mind blowingly different, but it’s a start.

Once you’ve made sure an animal is happy enough, it’s time to start looking for a new home for them. To do this you need to take a photo of it with your digital camera, scan it onto the office PC, and post it onto the internet. Once you do that the offers will come pouring in, and you need to match up the prospective owners with the animals. Some people are on the lookout for intelligent pets, others for clean ones. The animals themselves have different needs too, some are energetic and need a big garden, others can’t live with kids. Depending on how perfect a home you find for the animal in question, you’ll earn more reputation and money to expand the shelter.

With enough cash you can start constructing new buildings to improve the shelter and expand its grounds. First you’ll probably want to set up an enclosure for whichever animal you didn’t pick at the start of the game, but there’s also a vet building and washing facilities to buy too. Before long you’ll be pulling ticks, drawing blood in syringes and scrubbing dirty pups to your heart’s content.

A screenshot of Animal Shelter Simulator

Once you’ve got all the facilities you need, it’s just a matter of taking in as many animals as you can handle and earning as much money and reputation as possible. As your reputation goes up you’ll be able to order in more items from the shops and build better quality buildings. It’d be a nice way to encourage you to grind away and help as many cats and dogs as possible, but when your rewards are unlocking better quality sponges it’s hard to get too giddy.

It doesn’t take too long for Animal Shelter Simulator to start feeling repetitive, and a lot of that is just because of how little changes between each animal you take in. All the dogs look pretty much the same, medium sized generic looking pups of slightly varying colours. They all even have the same barking sound effect, and the cats are even worse. Even the applications for adoption you get have the exact same text on them every time. When you have three different people looking for a dog saying word for word “I want a dog that doesn’t make a mess, my family make enough of that already” one after the other, it’s hard not to roll your eyes.

On top of the repetition, there’s also some controller issues to battle. Whether you’re going through your inventory or moving items around, the controls are just so unintuitive and led to me constantly dropping things, forgetting how to use items and opening menus by accident. The menus are a massive headache too. You can never tell which button you have selected because the colour change when they’re highlighted just makes them greyer, and backing out of one menu on the PC to go into another is so much harder than it needs to be. Animal Shelter Simulator is the perfect example of how not to design menus and a control scheme.

A screenshot of Animal Shelter Simulator

Once you’ve wrangled the controls into submission, things continue to go wrong. I had one situation where I created some cat enclosures but they didn’t come with a field to play and toilet in, and despite having another field and no other animals in the facility I couldn’t take this miserable kitty there because it was assigned as a dog field. This meant deleting huge portions of my shelter to fit in a whole new cat enclosure, because I wasn’t allowed to delete these pointless cages with a cat currently living in them. You might think “well you just need to find the cat a home first right?” but you can’t rehome sad animals, and this cat was a train wreck.

It’s also worth mentioning how underwhelming the visuals in Animal Shelter Simulator are. The game has that generic simulator aesthetic, and it just makes everything feel a bit lifeless. That might also be because it seems to be set in a world where you’re the last remaining human, with drones dropping off deliveries from the sky and vans pulling up at your gate and opening their doors automatically for animals to be removed or placed inside to go to their new home.

Animal Shelter Simulator is repetitive, hard to control and entirely devoid of life and charm. Younger animal lovers might get a kick out of getting to play with cute pets, but they’d also have to get used to navigating the terrible menus and would soon realise that all the animals are pretty much identical. There was a real opportunity to create an interesting and adorable game here, but ultimately playing it is just an exercise in frustration.


Is a great concept
Has a variety of tasks to complete once you've built all the facilities


The controls are unintuitive
The menus are incredibly poorly designed
Repetitive gameplay
Feels very soulless

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Animal Shelter Simulator should be a game full of joy and life, but in reality it's just bland, repetitive and hard to control.