If someone were to ask me “what would you do if you won the lottery?” I should not even think. For as long as I can remember, it has been my dream to open my own animal sanctuary, and with the Old Friends Dog Game, I can live out all the best parts of that fantasy without any financial strain.
Old Friends Dog Game, however, is not complete fiction. The game was inspired by a real dog home called the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, based in Tennessee, USA. All the dogs shown in the game are also based on actual residents of old friends. Not only that, but every month that Old Friends Dog Game makes a profit, the game’s developer Runaway Games sponsors one of the residents and completely covers the cost of that dog’s care for an entire year.
The game was launched in August 2021 and gets you involved in all the daily tasks of an expensive rescue worker. This includes feeding and playing with the dogs, cleaning up after them, photographing them, collecting donations, sending livestreams to your followers and much more.
In the usual way with mobile games, Old Friends Dog Game is free to play, but there are optional purchases in the game. The difference here is that each month you can spend your extra cash on your digital dogs, knowing that the money goes to help the real dog sanctuary.
It all starts with a Cocker Spaniel
Whether you’re afraid of taking on an entire dog sanctuary or hoping to become a new dog parent to eight OAP dogs at once, Old Friends Dog Game helps players with just one dog to take care of in the beginning. Once players have started the game and chosen a catchy name and slogan for your sanctuary, players are introduced to the Mac, a golden Cocker Spaniel that – you guessed it – is based on a true resident of the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.
After the Mac, players find Bagel the Beagle, who was found roaming the streets during a storm a few days after you moved into the sanctuary. Bagel is again a real dog from the sanctuary that was actually brought into the sanctuary during a storm. After these two, players can unlock the Leo the Husky mix, the Babs Basset Hound mix, the Captain Ron the Rottweiler mix, the Sharkey dachshund, Kirby the Australian cattle dog and finally the Chanel Chow Chow mix.
Each dog also has its own personality, special requirements and favorite items. They all also need to be monitored to keep their happiness in check by meeting their need for pats, satisfying their hunger and entertaining them. To do this, however, players must earn enough money through donations to buy ingredients to make dog treats and buy new toys at “Barket”. Did I also mention that you can also give them some accessories to wear?
The dogs are also not the only ones that need to be maintained during the game, as players can also customize the sanctuary with new furniture and decor – which also needs to be unlocked as they progress through the game. As you would expect, having eight dogs walking through the house means there is plenty of tidying up to do along with your other daily chores.
More than a management sim
What surprised me about this game is that it is not just a simulator for controlling dogs. Through Old Friends, players will also get to play through a series of visual novel elements that provide more context to the story and introduce you to new characters and dogs along the way.
Each visual novel segment is beautifully illustrated and lets players choose how to react to humans and dogs. This can be as simple as a dialogue option or let you decide where your dog should play today. It’s not exactly a Life is Strange or Dark Pictures game where your choices matter in the end, but I liked that Old Friends Dog Game gives you a sense of freedom when you run the sanctuary that you find appropriate. .
You can also customize your character in the game to look like yourself – or whoever else you want in the story – which also helps me live out my dog rescue center -owning dreams. As far as I know, you never fully see your character on screen, but they do show up on the dog blog menu screen and continue to be customizable throughout your experience.
However, I think my favorite thing to do in the app is to host livestreams with my rescue dogs. This part of the game acts as a mini-game and requires players to perform tasks with the dogs under the stream to earn extra donations. This means that you will basically spend an entire minute cheating on the dogs, exactly how your viewers want you as fast as you can, and get the bank to do it.
Mentally, I’m at the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary
Old Friends Dog Game is the perfect game to use for a little escapism. I found that during small breaks of the day where I would normally scroll through Twitter or see what was new on TikTok, I now checked in on my dogs and performed my daily chores in the game. Each story segment usually lasts only a few minutes each, so it’s easy to get through the game, even if you only play for short periods.
There is also always something to do, whether it is cleaning up the garden, taking care of your dogs needs or updating your dog blog, which means it is very easy to get sucked into it and shut everything else out under these short replays. Which I found very useful when dealing with daily stress. Plus you are potentially helping dogs in real life so you can not help but feel really complacent in the best possible way.
Old Friends Dog Game is available now on both iOS and Android devices.