To The Rescue! - PC Review

To The Rescue! by developer Little Rock Games and publisher Freedom GamesPC review written by Jim with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

I love a good simulation game and I have built and run everything from amusement parks (Parkasurus), malls, hospitals, and so on (Tharsis) but this was the first I have ever seen that lets you run your own dog shelter. As an animal lover, I was excited to try To The Rescue!

In terms of gameplay, there are two modes, story and sandbox. Sandbox mode is like any other sandbox mode out there so I spent most of my time in story mode. You start with picking one of five skins for your character, name them and then you pick a companion dog and name them too. Unfortunately, after doing all this is when I ran into my first problem with the game as it was extremely laggy and I knew it wasn't my computer as other games worked just fine. A few days later a patch came out and it fixed that issue but I had to restart my save file which luckily wasn't very far in.

Moving onto the story, you move to a new town called Yawning Falls where you find a stray dog in your yard and you end up taking it to a shelter where your friend works. You find out that no one has been looking for the pup and that the shelter has no room so you decide to build a kennel at your house to keep the pup there until you find its owner while posting “Dog found” signs all over town. After this, your friend calls you and asks you to work at the shelter which then sets the game into motion. This all works as a tutorial so while most of it is just story, it does show you the ropes before sending you off to work in a shelter.

Starting off, the shelter you work at is full of dogs so things can get overwhelming from the start of a game. It does however show you everything you can do from feeding dogs to bathing them, playing with them, what to do when a new dog comes in to finally and most importantly, how to get dogs adopted. When a visitor comes they will tell you what kind of dog they are looking for and you will then pick out five of the dogs in the shelter to show to them. They can ask for just a dog and not care about its traits or sometimes they will look for a certain breed of dog or a certain trait like playful or trained. Dogs will sometimes gain traits from random events and later on when you can plan community events. The visitors will rate the dogs you are showing them on a 1-5 scale and the higher it is the more likely they are to adopt a dog. There is a bar on top of the screen you must fill by finding dogs they like or they won't adopt. Like in real life puppy's are more likely to get higher ratings than older dogs.

On the subject of work, you will have to clean the kennels from the above mentioned poop with the poop scooper, give dogs water by filling a bucket and bringing it around to fill each dog’s water dish and bathe them when they are dirty which starts a little mini-game. To wash a dog you must click on a bar as it reaches the ends to the right or left making it move faster but also making the bath also finish faster. Finally to finish up your work you will have to take care of any sick or injured dogs by getting a medical room where you can use vaccinations to cure or protect the dogs from things like worms and parasites and so on as well as use a med kit to heal any hurt dogs. Later on in the game you can add kennels where you can add more than one dog to it and sometimes they may fight and that will cause an injury and sometimes they can earn a negative trait from it.

One other thing you can do in the medical area of your shelter is euthanizing dogs. It's an odd thing to add to such a cute-looking game, and yes, there are some shelters in real life that do this but many have been going no-kill including my local shelter. If putting dogs down is not your thing you can change a setting to send away dogs instead of killing them. In my time playing, I didn't have to use the euthanize option so it may not be something you need to use as long as you keep adopting out dogs and have room for new ones.

You also get money in the game from adopting out dogs, from random events, community events and by completing grants which are objectives you must complete to gain money. You can also gain money by completing milestones like cleaning up so much poop or adopting out so many dogs. You lose money by buying things, building and also by random events. You also gain or lose reputation from things you do on a scale of -100 to 100 but it was easy enough to get to 100 and stay there.

Later on in To The Rescue! you will unlock the Barkbook and LeashedIn. Barkbook is like a Facebook app that lets you read what people are saying about the shelter though mostly I see “I wish they had cats” which was probably the developers trolling you. It did feel strange though at the fact that most shelters do have cats, dogs, and even other kinds of animals making this game feel less like a shelter sim and more like a take care of dogs sim.

One other thing you can do with Barkbook is host community events. Community events take time from your working day and can be free or cost money but they can give you things like money, reputation, give dogs traits, and find foster homes. After a while, you will be able to foster dogs out and they will get adopted.

LeashedIn on the other hand lets you use skill points you get at the end of each day to unlock skills that can make items like food cheaper, build new things, make adoptions easier and so on. This is unfortunately where I started to see the most amount of bugs. I would unlock run kennels in LeashedIn but they wouldn't unlock. Dogs wouldn't be in the kennel and running around and I couldn’t leash them unless I went to the kennel they are supposed to be in to leash them there even though the run kennels were not there. Also, when I loaded a game the name and skin of the companion dog I picked could be wrong unless I reload the game again, I could start a day with 10 skill points but when I loaded the save file it only showed 3 skill points and skills unlocked on LeashedIn were greyed out. I did contact the developers about this and was told to restart the game and so for the second time I restarted the game but having to restart from that point yet another time was a bit demoralizing.

Restarting once again, this time I got to where you can hire a helper to help around the shelter. You can pick what they do but you must build an employee room first. They will go around and do what you told them to do like clean poop, feed / bathe / play with the dogs and so on. I ran into the same issue with loading the game and the dog I picked was wrong unless I reloaded again, and again the LeashedIn skills were greyed out when they shouldn't be. Grants wouldn't complete even when it said I completed it so I never got the money and after unlocking the skill that makes the store cheaper it wouldn't allow me to buy food unless I bought something else like a medkit and even then the price was wrong. They ended up patching the game but when I loaded the game all my dogs were gone.


Overall To The Rescue! is a cute game but I can not recommend it as it currently is with as many bugs as it has until they are fixed allowing someone to really play through without risk of having to unintentionally restart.

The developers though have been updating the game a lot since its launch and with 20% of the sale profit going to the Petfinder Foundation charity is a nice thing.

Score: 5 / 10

Based off of the current version 1.0.26