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Nov 01, 2021

To The Rescue! Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $19.99
We Recommend: $19.99
  • Developer: Little Rock Games
  • Publisher: Freedom Games
  • Genre: Casual, Indie, Simulation
  • Released: Nov 02, 2021
  • Platform: Windows, Switch
  • Reviewed: Windows

I love dogs; that’s it for the review. This game is dog-focused, and I love dogs. Hold on; our Editor-in-Chief is telling me that I need to elaborate. Ok, fine, Scott, here goes: To the Rescue is a fun take on a management sim where you’re running a dog shelter. Dogs come in; you place them in safe and spacious crates, take care of their needs, and offer potential adopters the choice of pet friends to take home. The game can get chaotic at times, but it will satisfy that management itch if you have one Satisfying like a good head scratch.

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Like most management games, you start from small potatoes and work your way up to bigger and better things. Your character volunteers at a friend’s dog shelter to give you, the player, a quick tutorial on how the game plays and what to expect. After a day or two, the town mayor shows up and offers you the job of running a shelter of your own. Of course, you accept, and you’re now off into the world of adoptions.

I had a blast managing things around the shelter; it wasn’t too in-depth but yet had enough things to manage to keep the gameplay loop engaging. Other than the dogs, which we’ll get to, you’re expected to keep stock of medicines, food, and the shelter’s town events to raise awareness and reputation. Shopping for the items is easy enough with an online shop accessible from your shelter’s computer, and the events can be assigned from a menu on your PC as well.

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The events are nothing visually special but help build a little lore around your shelter and give perks to your game. You’ll have a basic map of the town with different areas to choose to hold an event. You’ll find that some days have the option for a meet and greet at a park, which may reward you with more potential adopters showing up the next day. You might find an opportunity of doing an event at a community center to spread the word about the shelter, bringing in additional shelter rep.

You’ll want to have a high reputation, which will help with tasks the mayor will ask of you; tasks like bringing in more potential adopters and even opening up some foster homes for the dogs. Take advantage of the foster homes because as the game progresses, you’re going to fill up on dogs quick, real barking quick. Plus, leaving them in the homes keeps their stats up and will get them adopted easier.

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You can’t just keep these dogs in a giant holding pen in the shelter, though. They need more care than that, so it’s up to you to fill your kennel area with crates to house the dogs until they are adopted. It’s here where the game lets you get creative as you’ll be able to purchase various crate types and design the kennel area how you’d like, from the room’s layout to the placement of the crates; it’s totally up to you. Within that build menu, you’re even able to choose colors and more for other rooms in your shelter; to give it that extra personal touch. Further in the game, you’ll get the choice to open up the yards outside to let the dogs get some exercise and playtime.

That’s all well and good, but your goal is to find homes for these pups, and that’s where I had the most fun playing. I was always excitedly anticipating what dogs would show up to the shelter. They include various breed types in the game but save themselves from getting too detailed about it. You’ll find breeds like border collies, boxers, labradors, pugs, terriers, and more, but most are labeled under their general breeds. So what looks like a little yorkie dog is labeled a terrier. In the grand scheme of things, it makes matching the right dog to the adopter’s needs easier, but I like detail too.

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So you may be asking, what is the daily grind? Well, you’ll receive dogs in your holding area; you’ll want to place them on a leash, get them all washed up at the bath station, then put them in a kennel. To make things more efficient or confusing, you can hold multiple dogs on a leash at a time and eventually upgrade the leash to hold even more. I generally stuck to just one at a time because it would get a little too overwhelming for me when moving dogs between the wash or crates.

To complete some of the daily tasks like bathing or playing with the dogs comes quick little mini-games that can make things faster or more enjoyable. It’s not necessary to hit the button prompts, but you’ll want to get these done quickly, with you being on the clock and all. Each dog has meters letting you know if they need a bath, how happy they are, and how hungry they are. Depending on how many dogs you’re taking care of, you’ll go through food quickly, and each dog has their preferences. There are multiple food options, which are color-coded, and to keep the dogs the happiest, you’ll want to match their food with their taste.

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Happy dogs lead to better adoption rates as well taken care of dogs have a higher star rating. When it comes time to show off the dogs to potential adopters, the stars are used to fill up an adoption bar. When the bar fills up past the adopter’s limit, they will adopt a dog on the spot. You’ll only be able to show five dogs at a time, so you want to make sure that you get your best out there. Plus, if an adopter has any specific requests or needs, like a dog who is good with children or needs a puppy, those attributes will add an extra star to their rating during the adoption process, giving the dogs an even better chance at finding a forever home. You’ll be able to view the dog’s details using the PC or through a quick menu button that will give you all the stats to help you make the right pairings.

It’s a fun and repeatable grind that never gets overly stressful. The only times I started getting too upset with myself was when I had to stay after closing to finish tasks like cleaning. The longer you stay, the more overtime you create, which negatively affects your end-day profits as the game will subtract your overtime pay from the total earned.

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I want to mention that it runs beautifully, at least on my system, with the game’s absolutely gorgeous 2D art style. But after acquiring a full shelter of dogs, I was running into an issue where my game began to chug, like really bad. I couldn’t pinpoint the problem, and it didn’t do it all the time, so I want to throw that caution out there just in case it’s missed in a future patch. The game controls well on a keyboard and mouse setup but I found that going to the controller route was just more intuitive for the user interface layout they have going. It’s nit-picky but I wish they would have mirrored the direction your held items would rotate when switching between them. I found myself switching to the wrong item multiple times. Not a huge deal but like it said, nit-picky. Also, on another separate note, they are donating a portion of the profits from the game to the Petfinder Foundation which in itself, is a great thing for the developers and publisher to do!

Other than that technical issue, I loved what I was playing. The management aspect was engaging, the art & animations of the dogs made them super adorable, and overall, Little Rock Games made a well-put-together package. If To the Rescue were a dog in need of rescue, I’d be first in line to adopt.

Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes