Mobile Game That’s Making Tails Wags


Just a few taps on the App Store, and the decision has been made, finalized. A new app on the device appears, just waiting to be opened and played, full of adventures and cute, fun, and charming stories to enjoy. Stories, more importantly, based on real events, and also real dogs.

Not a lot of games one can encounter on an app store have much meaning behind them. Merge this; idle that–large companies making one-off games that either are just a current online game now with a mobile port or will fall into obscurity within months of being released…. While a lot of them can be unique in their own rights, eventually, the same formula being used time and time again can get tiresome–and boring. A lot of people are looking for something new, something unique, something to keep their interest and be worth it to keep on their mobile device.

While the animal or pet care genre and type of games are not anything new, the premise of basing all of the game’s characters on real animals–and a real organization–certainly appears to be. Available on Android and iOS, Old Friends Dog Game is bound to be a favorite for all that play it.

“I was instantly hooked on the visual art and aesthetics,” states mobile gamer and EHS senior Maggie Vongsa, after looking up pictures of the game. “It’s like Stardew Valley, mixed with Purrfect Tales, but with dogs! I adore the fact that all dogs in the game are based off of real life dogs, giving them personality and a way to see them living their normal lives.”

In the game, players take on the role of an unspecified character, which they can customize later on, which enables them to be able to choose how to react during situations (between two options, of course). Their character is opening up their own dog sanctuary, but specifically for older dogs, and has connections to vets and others who can help care for their dogs’ specific problems, or give gifts to the dogs.

The very first dog that the players get to meet is Mack, who doesn’t let his lack of vision slow him down. Mack is the first dog that players take care of, and after reaching a certain level of friendship with Mack, the players get introduced to, and gets to take care of, a new dog—Bagel, a beagle. This is how the story goes, where players must reach a certain level of friendship with each dog until they reach a certain level, and when the level is met, players will get to take care of a new dog.

But this isn’t all; in fact, there’s a lot more that goes into this game than just raising friendship levels with the dogs. In order to take care of–and raise friendship levels–with the dogs, players must do multiple things, such as petting the dogs, feeding them, and giving them toys. Toys can be bought directly from the Barket—or the game-specific market—as well as dog food and supplies to make dog treats. The players are able to make their own dog treats, and all of the dogs have their own preferences when it comes to treats, as well as to their toys.

Toys are very simple, but the treats can be a lot harder to work with, as not only are there three types of treats—biscuits, pupcakes, and donuts—players can make and the dogs may like, but there are also different variations of the three treats based on ingredient rarity—basic, great, fancy, and perfect,—five different flavors the treats can have added to them—turkey, beef, ham, fish, and honey—and also different colors that the treats can be—blue, red, green, and yellow/orange. Players can find out what a dog likes the most by either trial-and-error or playing through the dog’s story levels. 

When a dog is given treats and toys that they like, they will produce more hearts, and hearts are not only how players increase their friendship level with each dog, but all hearts gathered from the dogs go into one collective spot, which increases the players’ general level.

The game likes to act how the actual world acts, and the players’ character can receive messages, where people (even their mother) will specifically request players to do something, and will receive a reward at completion of the task, with the reward either being money, decorations, or costumes for the dogs. The players’ character will often take “pictures” of the dogs or specific events during the game stories, which can be posted on a social media blog in the game, where every post will give players more followers–more followers means more donations, and more donations means the more items, toys, and treat ingredients players can buy for the dogs.

When players level up, they have to play a “livestream” in order to continue leveling up, and live-streaming is one of the other features in the game akin to the modern world. Players can only play the level-up streams when they are about to level up, but they can play the item donation streams whenever they’d like, which allows them to get more, or special, toys and ingredients for their dogs and the treats to be baked. Events are seasonally and frequently held, and are an extra way to get fun themed decorations and costumes for the dogs!

Vongsa shares her critique: “The details put into the game—whether it’s every dog having their own individual favorite interest, or side stories—are amazingly detailed and adorable for how much is put in for the player to enjoy.”

Information on the dogs’ pages tends to be locked but can be unlocked by increasing the friendship level with them, or with trial-and-error though their favorite things. When looking at their information pages, one of the key pulls and best parts of the game can be seen—the included information about the virtual dogs’ real life counterparts that they’re based on!

All dogs in the game are based on real, elderly dogs, at the actual dog sanctuary that the game is based on. While in the game, players can choose their own name for their dog sanctuary, but the original sanctuary is called Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, based out in Tennessee. Runaway Play, the company that developed the Old Friends Dog Game, officially sponsors some of the real-life sanctuary dogs, with all their costs being covered for a year, thanks to the game’s players.

Frequently, the game gives players the opportunity to buy special packs in general, or for events, with actual cash, with the money going to the sanctuary to help fund the dogs’ supplies, vet visits, and all else needed to take care of them.

Again, the premise of taking care of animals, pets, or even just dogs isn’t a new one for mobile games. However, Old Friends Dog Game most assuredly takes the concept and turns it on its head, with the unique and fun stories players can interact with, baking the dog treats themselves and figuring out what the dogs like the most–customizing a player’s character and the dogs, being able to participate in unique events that have different concepts or methods to play them, the basing the game characters off of real dogs with their personalities and stories…and so much more.

Vongsa concludes, “I feel like this game is great for destressing—being able to lay on a comfy surface, look after and take care of these digital dogs like they’re actually your very own…but not in real life, of course! I would highly recommend anyone to download Old Friends Dog Game. Even if you’re a cat person—trust me; it’s worth it!”