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Pet Shop Simulator Review (PC)

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Rabbit in Pet Shop Simulator

There’s a fine line between what’s genuinely quirky, and what’s downright terrifying, and I honesty can’t help but think that the townsfolk of Pet Shop Simulator pretty much gravitate towards the latter. In spite of their best efforts to emulate the emotions of an actual human being, though, the pets, on the other hand, are a little more, I don’t know, sentient, and even convincing enough to be able to sway me into believing that not everything in the so-called Pet Shop Simulator is entirely wooden. And that’s a good thing, really, as this kooky little business sim isn’t about the customers, but rather, the furry critters and scaly so-and-sos that populate it. That’s five points for having your priorities straight, Games Incubator — congrats.

Anyway, if you have ever stepped foot into a pet store before, then you’ll no doubt have noticed that, vacant expressions and static silhouettes aside, there can be a rather pleasant atmosphere and sense of warmth, doubly so if the countless hutches and vivariums are sporting their distinctive creatures and contained bite-sized climates. Well, as it turns out, Pet Shop Simulator’s primary goal is to recreate that exact sense of warmth and communal spirit, only on a virtual, independent platter that’s equal to measure and fully willing to bend and stretch to your tastes. Now, this isn’t to say that you can cram a hamster into a shoebox and scoot it out of the door without the appropriate provisions; there are, in fact, a few boundaries to consider here — and understandably so.

Of course, I’m getting way ahead of myself with this, so allow me to dial it back just a smidgen. Care to join me as I plunge a little deeper into the world of animal management and pet advocacy? Then let’s jump in.

Fluff Balls & Scales

Cashier advertising pet store (Pet Shop Simulator)

Pet Shop Simulator orbits a schematic that we’ve seen numerous times before: it essentially features an array of customizable components, a to-do list, and—if you can believe it—critters and other tamable animals that can easily be treated and distributed to tender loving individuals. The goal of the game—and this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, to be fair—is to cater to the needs of these sprightly pets, and broaden the minds of those who want them for their own keeping. There’s a little more to it than that, mind you. In addition to actually selling these cutesy creatures, you also need to keep stock of the basic necessities—food, water, toys, and bedding. What’s more, you also need to take other precautions into consideration, such as the size of each habitat, as well as the amount of interactive space they’ll need to thrive.

At its core, Pet Shop Simulator is a “traditional” business management simulation game, meaning, from a gameplay standpoint, you spend most of your time either adding new wings to your shop, keeping stock of your items, and maintaining the general welfare of the animals in your care. There’s a little more to it than that, for sure, but during the day-to-day, the vast majority of your time is spent potting around the storefront and sifting through some rather generic tasks. And weirdly enough, that’s fine; I can’t say I was expecting much more from a shop simulator, to be honest. The question is, is it fun? Eh, it has its moments, I’ll say that much.

When the Going Gets Tough

Decorating shop floor (Pet Shop Simulator)

Pet Shop Simulator is one of those types of simulators; naturally, it begins with the basics—a litter of tutorials and a few simple instructions. After that, it’s merely the case of learning on the job, so to speak. Sure enough, you launch your career with little to no training or inventory, but rather, a shelf or two and a rabbit to keep you company. The goal of this preliminary phase, of course, is to create a perfect environment for the critter, either by investing in an appropriately sized cage, or by utilizing various interactive set pieces to make it feel a little more at home. And that’s just the first day on the job, too. From there, it’s the case of figuring out how to develop a snowball, and then allowing it to expand with each passing shift in order to form a sustainable business model.

As it turns out, there’s a little more to the job than simply stroking hamsters and petting turtles out on the shop floor. Scarily, there are also thieves to keep tabs on, too—cloak-and-dagger bandits who make a habit out of breaking into your shop during closing hours and ransacking your goods. To say that this is an issue would be understatement, truly, especially given the fact that your first several days as an avid shopkeeper are spent shaping the aforementioned snowball into an elaborate, money-making system. And yet, this is but one of the obstacles that you must face in Pet Shop Simulator; there are plenty more to shovel through, but for the most part, thieves are, and rightfully so, your worst nightmare when it comes to managing a business. Truth is, I can’t say I enjoyed having to keep them in check all that much. Go figure.

Silver Linings

Upgrades and items menu (Pet Shop Simulator)

Frequent burglaries cast aside for a moment, there isn’t a great deal to fret about in Pet Shop Simulator. Well, tell a lie — there’s also the case of having to deal with tricky colleagues and impatient customers, too. Having said all that, at no point did I struggle with the bad deeds, or even feel that it was all becoming too much to handle, either. Sure, the first week or two had me questioning a lot of my abilities as an animal welfare aficionado, but by the time the second week rolled around, it seemed relatively manageable—easy, even, given that I had enough coin in the bank, and a structurally sound routine that meant I could go about my day without having to worry about things going a little, shall we say, awry.

Like a lot of business management sims, Pet Shop Simulator does feature its own form of learning curve, and it doesn’t do a great deal to help you come to grips with a lot of the issues that occur on a frequent basis. But, like I said, a few in-game days here is enough to put you on the straight and narrow, and so, to say that it’s a difficult game wouldn’t be totally accurate. For the record, this is a cozy game at heart, but don’t let the cutesy art style and animations fool you into thinking that it’s all fun and games. Again, blame the thieves, not the turtles.

Verdict

Cashier serving customer (Pet Shop Simulator)

Pet Shop Simulator can be a great deal of fun in bite-sized bursts, but there often comes a point, as with in any simulation game that revolves around stock and shopkeeping, where the grind can become a little monotonous and repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, there is enough to see you through your first handful of hours, but once you’ve mopped up a solid portion of the game’s resources and features, it does gradually sink into that, I don’t know, questionable state. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, because it’s far from it, though it is worth pointing out as you begin your journey as a fledging keeper of pets that things can get a little boring and wishy-washy. But hey — at least it isn’t quite as dull as, say, Lawn Mower Simulator.

If I had to compare Pet Shop Simulator with anything, I’d say it’s a lot like Supermarket Simulator, in ways, as it more or less sports all of the same shelf-stacking chores and customer interaction tidbits. The only major difference here, of course, is that you’re put in charge of bunnies, and not, you know, cereal. Suffice it to say, if you do have a little experience in the field of business management, then this ought to be a total walk in the park for you. If, however, you haven’t the slightest clue about what it takes to excel in the world of customer services, then I can only say one thing: tutorials — don’t skimp out on them, otherwise, this’ll prove to be a real doozy.

Pet Shop Simulator Review (PC)

(P)oodles of Fun

Pet Shop Simulator certainly bears all of the appropriate qualities of a Supermarket Simulator clone. However, much like its adversary, it is ultimately marred by its lack of endgame content or replay value. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cute and cuddly in short bursts, but, eh, that novelty overstays its welcome disappointingly quickly.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.