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Pet Shop Simulator Review

Calling all budding pet shop entrepreneurs!  If you dream of owning your very own pet shop, surrounded by cute animals and happy customers, then Pet Shop Simulator allows you to live out that very dream!  You get to manage your very own pet shop, filled with fluffy (and/or scaly or feathery) friends galore!  Does Pet Shop Simulator deliver?  Read on to find out!

Matching Pets and People

As with most simulator games, there is very little story in general. Pet Shop Simulator offers a sandbox experience.  Your aim?  To be a successful pet shop owner!  There is no linearity, no side quests, no secret missions that you get to unlock and no fun/interesting/scary characters to encounter.

Instead, you get to buy an empty shop, fill it with shelves, display units and a till, then buy some stock – including stock of the fluffy/scaly/feathery variety – and you’re good to go!

But it’s not all sunshine and belly rubs. You are required to keep the business functioning by carrying out the daily duties of a typical pet shop owner, some of which are mundane but necessary.  Such duties include restocking items when stock is low or sold out, cleaning out animals’ enclosures, managing staff and cleaning the shop ad hoc.

What lies beneath the simple interface, however, is far more intricate than you may expect.  Keeping the shop afloat requires financial acumen. Yep.  You’ll need to carefully manage your budget, purchasing pets and supplies at wholesale prices while selling them for a profit (which you will, of course, need to determine).
Happy customers are key to success, so providing excellent customer service and ensuring your pets’ well-being are crucial aspects of gameplay.  In addition to that, managing and caring for staff is also a vital aspect of the Pet Shop Simulator.  This is because, once your shop gets big enough, it will become too big for you to manage single-handedly (even though you will probably really want to do everything yourself!).

Keeping Your Critters Happy

The core mechanics of Pet Shop Simulator revolve around shop management and animal care.  You will manage your inventory, stocking shelves with food, toys and several other necessities for various pets.  Upgrading your shop allows you to acquire more space and thus expands the selection of animals and supplies available to you.

Animal care is, unsurprisingly, a vital element of being successful in Pet Shop Simulator.  You will need to maintain clean cages and enclosures, provide fresh food and water, ensure that there is proper heating and lighting and also always remember to stroke the bunnies because having bunnies that love you is one of the most important things in life.

Interacting with customers, who present with varying needs and desires, is also vital to your success (or failure).  You need to ensure that you respond to their concerns and queries appropriately, and making the wrong decision could be the difference between a sale or an angry customer.

There are also thieves in Pet Shop Simulator.  Seriously.  There will be some people who waltz into your pet shop, swipe a couple of items, and then casually head out with their heads held high.  Occurrences like this will naturally contribute towards your shop making a loss, and it is up to you to stamp it out.  This can be addressed in several ways, from using security barriers, hiring security staff or even outright accusing people of theft (you won’t always be right, however, so get ready for the backlash from that).

The majority of tasks within Pet Shop Simulator take the form of minigames.  Cleaning the shop floor or the bunnies’ enclosure, for example, both activate a minigame where you grab hold of a mop or sponge respectively and drag it around the dirty area to remove said dirt from it.  Once done, you are presented with a flurry of bubbles to imply that the surface is now impeccably clean, and job done!

Other minigames include attempting to figure out what it is that customers truly want when you either recommend a product to them or try to persuade them.  Their thoughts are displayed in a thought bubble above their heads and you are required to choose from one of several images below that could match it in some way.  While this sounds simple enough on the surface, it is unfortunately more confusing than anything because different players will have different interpretations of the symbols.  Admittedly, I have probably failed more times than I have succeeded, and have therefore chosen to keep away from my customers unless absolutely necessary!

Such minigames challenge players to match pictures to represent persuasion or recommendations to customers, but the lack of words makes it tricky since the pictures’ meanings can vary for different players.

There is an in-game tablet that you use to manage your pet shop.  From opening and closing the shop to hiring staff, purchasing stock and even modifying the physical structure of the shop via build mode, the tablet does it all!

As with the customers’ image-focused thoughts, however, the tablet also suffers from the same unintuitive design choice.  Again, it is immediately apparent that the decision to use images instead of words was probably intended to make Pet Shop Simulator more inclusive for younger children.  However, using pictures with no text often tends to be a hindrance because it leads to confusion.  For example, I wanted to buy some pets, so I opened up the tablet, chose the shopping trolley icon (makes sense) and then clicked on the animal that I wanted to buy.  I was then presented with several other options from food to toys and struggled to actually find the section where I could purchase pets.

There is also a hand-held scanner that you use to achieve certain tasks, such as putting stock out onto shelves when necessary and changing displays as required.  This is a good tool to have and makes things more convenient; however, putting the scanner away took some effort (FYI: you have to use the mouse wheel and scroll through each app until your character puts the scanner away).

There is a time management system which allows you to complete tasks during closing hours.  The problem is that you can quite literally spend a huge amount of time in the shop overnight doing things and there will still be several hours until the shop is due to open again.  The way to avoid this is to use your trusty tablet to skip the night part of the daily cycle, which then sees you standing in the same place as the world quite literally goes from night to day around you until it is morning again.  This is not particularly realistic and there is room for improvement around time management because the current system is somewhat clunky and thus immersion-breaking.

Managing the Menagerie: Solo or Staffed?

There is no multiplayer mode in Pet Shop Simulator, however there is a community hub where would-be pet shop owners can share screenshots and discuss their respective forays into the world of pet shop keeping.

Cuddly Critters & Catchy Tunes

This is where Pet Shop Simulator lets itself down somewhat.  Don’t get me wrong – in a general sense, Pet Shop Simulator looks okay, but there is nothing special about it.  What made the overall experience worse, at least for me, was watching the trailer before playing the game.  The core mechanics of the game in the trailer are essentially the same as in-game.  However, the difference in graphical quality is night and day.  The trailer shows highly-detailed environments, visually striking customers and beautifully rendered animals and lighting effects.  In reality, your characters and the world that you inhabit are mostly cartoon-like in their appearance.  What makes it worse is that there is clipping – lots of clipping!

However, clipping is something that can be rectified with relative ease in a future update, so that shouldn’t cause any long-term issues.  Several textures also appeared flat and animations were often repetitive.

Despite the cartoon-like appearance of the overall game, that isn’t to say that it looks bad in any way – it just looks “okay”, but I was expecting “good” or even “great”, and that was slightly disappointing.

In terms of sound, there is a good range of ambient music which creates a relaxed atmosphere and fits nicely within the Pet Shop Simulator world.  In addition to that, animal sounds are good and the world in general sounds realistic.

Endless Caregiving?

While there is no overarching story, there is a decent amount of replay value in Pet Shop Simulator. For the completionists among us, there is the option to attempt to collect all available pet breeds or perhaps to achieve a specific level of wealth. The sandbox nature of Pet Shop Simulator allows you to essentially make the game into whatever you want it to be.

Conclusion

Pet Shop Simulator offers a charming and relaxing experience all-round. There are certain aspects of the game which are deceptively in-depth and this is a good thing because it adds to the overall immersion. Conversely, several aspects of Pet Shop Simulator remove you from the immersion altogether, such as major clipping issues, an often confusing interface, and repetitive tasks.

The gameplay in general is enjoyable and there is a wide and varied selection of items available to you, which allows you to be as creative as you wish and make the experience truly your own. With a little more all-round depth and some graphical improvements, Pet Shop Simulator could truly shine.


Pros:

  • Adorable and varied selection of pets.
  • Plenty of shop customisation options.
  • Sanbox experience allows you to play in your own style.

Cons:

  • The trailer features footage that is not in-game and gives the wrong impression.
  • The interface is too basic.
  • Repetitive tasks can feel tedious.
  • The time management system can break immersion.


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