Being a micro management game, Pet Shop Story does a good job of balancing fun versus formulaic routines. If you have played any similar simulation games, then getting into this game will be second nature to you. At the same time, the continuous flow of rewards and irresistibly adorable critters you can acquire is quite rewarding. The result is addicting, though being a micro transaction game, it does entail a lot of patience if you intend to play completely free.
So what exactly do you do in Pet Shop Story? Well, like the rest of the Story franchise, you slowly build your business, buying various pets and related merchandise to fill up your store. The customers enter automatically, requiring you only to regularly collect the earnings from pet pens and taking care of the pets themselves. While there are no direct interactions with the little critters, you do get to feed and breed them to make way for even more exotic varieties to feature in your pet shop. Most of the interaction is done by simply clicking on the pens, clicking on arrows and icon to navigate the user interface and the usual pan and zoom to check out parts of your store in detail.
All in the Breeds
What sets Pet Shop Story apart from other micro management titles out there is the stellar number of pet selections. Gone are the days when you are stuck with just Dalmatians, Poodles and Golden Retrievers. Though you can still opt to feature the more popular breeds, you also have the choice of going for rarer ones. In terms of dog breeds, you have the Shiba Inu, English Mastiff and the Afghan Hound among others. For cats, the Kurilian Bobtail, Manx and Snowshoe are mixed in with a lot of other exotic breeds. Bored with cats and dogs? Get a Gecko or a Lion Fish.
As is the case with most mobile games, there are in-app micro transactions for Pet Shop Story. Players who cannot stand to wait an hour, sometimes even a day, for their pets to produce offspring may want to skip the lull altogether. In which case, purchasing gems with real cash may just be the ticket to progress faster in the game and enjoy. However, patient players may get the best of both worlds by being able to stock up their pet shop completely for free.
Not So Saver-Friendly
With in-app purchases merely a click away, it may be a good idea to revisit your device settings to regulate transactions for younger players in the family. Don’t think that you’re safe if you don’t usually share devices. With the art style as cute as it is, it won’t be long until your little sister or niece attempts to get a hold of your iPad to play Pet Shop Story.
Like we said, the graphics are appealing and theme appropriate. With this many featured breeds, you’d think that they would end up resembling each other. They don’t. While it won’t win any style awards, the depiction of each breed is roughly accurate. The variety of available store decors and pet supplies are equally as plentiful, making the touch-based micro management as extensive as can be. The colors are easy on the eyes and the pseudo responsive animations successfully make the animals come to life. What we would have liked to see however was some way to integrate an avatar of your choice for the Shop Owner’s portrait. With only six characters to choose from, players will basically end up being clones of each other.
The Things That Get Old
While the cheery background music is sure to put you in the mood to develop your pet shop, it does get old fast. Having one track loop the whole day, let alone a few days doesn’t really give the best audio experience. However, the game does allow you to turn the music, the sound effects or both, off. For those who are used to playing mobile games without the audio, this is barely an issue but it would have been nice to have choices anyway. The sound effects are, on the other hand, simple yet delightful. Interacting with the animals nets a plethora of different types of barks, purrs or chuffles. As a bonus, these also vary in pitch and duration to suit the pet.
With its familiar mechanics, Pet Shop Story is a great choice for genre veterans when it comes to picking a game to relax to. The pace is reasonable, so you can be sure to find something to do, regardless if you pay for gems or not.
On the other hand, if this is your first time to try a management simulation game, Pet Shop Story’s tutorial leaves much to be desired. Features are only partially discussed, which means that you will have to find out how to gain access to things like the profile edit page on your own. The Help/FAQ page does contain practical tips to help you along, but its access button is nested within the Menu button, leaving inexperienced players to fiddle around in the dark.
The Cost of Staying Afloat
The drawbacks of a free game are usually confined to either required in-app micro transactions, which Pet Shop Story is considerately conservative about, or ads. That being said, the latter is definitely not in short supply. App download links masked as quest details are arrayed at the top left of your screen. But like we said, this is a common feature for free games so we can’t really shave off too many points. Interestingly, having ads to other games made by the developer can even be to the advantage of those who want to play titles with similar mechanics.
Another feature which makes Pet Shop Story shine is its community aspect. The game encourages you to pay a visit to neighboring pet stores by making it easy to track visitors. By creating a Storm8 ID, you will be able to add Neighbors to your list. This makes it easier to visit their shop and allows you to give a daily gift of your choice. We appreciate the fact that the daily gift does not take away anything from your inventory and it costs nothing at all to send one to your friends. Though subtle, this is a great way to encourage a positive gaming experience for those who want to meet other players to interact with on the message boards. It also gives you an idea of how to set up your shop and allows you to view animals that your neighbors already have in stock.
If you enjoy playing micro management sims or you happen to have a soft spot for pets, then by all means give Pet Shop Story a try. It is not perfect but the game features it does have are done right. If you have tried similar games by the developer, then you would know the mechanics like the back of your hand. The sheer variety of available pets are astounding and the sound effects chosen for them are indeed something special. The social aspects are fun to explore, with daily gift giving being encouraged by costing you nothing at all. It is possible to enjoy Pet Shop Story completely for free so long as you have the patience to wait for your shop to grow. Otherwise, it is not such a bad thing to support a game of this caliber –just be sure to supervise younger players so as not to incur accidental purchases.
Overall, we highly recommend giving Pet Shop Story by Storm8 a shot, those Lucky Chows and Paddy Dogs need some love.