Dr. Cares: Family Practice (Gamehouse)

After a long absence, Amy’s mother, Alice, comes back to Snuggford to offer Amy the chance of a lifetime, to work with dolphins and help the mother, Shira, give birth. Is the offer genuine, or does Alice have her own agenda?

Spoiler warning, so those who haven’t played the game yet might want to skip to the end paragraph. Anyway, as someone who’s loved dolphins since she was a kid, seeing a Dr. Cares game about one of my favorite animals was a dream come true. Even though the dolphins are at a rehab facility, the game does make it clear that dolphins belong in the wild and not in captivity, which is something I’ll talk about later in the review. However, Amy’s story with the dolphins is not the only thing going on in the game. She also has trust issues with her mother due to Alice abandoning Amy when she was a kid, which Amy is allowed to have. Sure, this is an opportunity, but Alice wasn’t around when Amy was growing up and her suddenly coming back into Amy’s life does look suspicious. Throughout the game, Alice takes actions that prove that Amy can’t trust her. Not only is Alice involved with a married man, something that’s immoral but her business, but she deliberately altered the test results for the dolphins to convince Amy to stay. Later on, she goes as far as to sabotage the baby dolphins and convinces Amy that they have to separate them from their mother, Shira. Which could not only cause emotional trauma for the newborn pups, but potentially endangered them! To make things worse, Alice regularly intercepted calls from Amy’s boyfriend, Jack, and lies about whether or not he called! I’ll admit, this doesn’t seem as bad as endangering the dolphin’s lives, but Jack was dealing with a crisis in Snuggford. While Amy tended to the dolphins, an epidemic broke out that endangered all of the wildlife, flora, and fauna! Jack repeatedly called for Amy’s help, something he repeatedly told Alice who brushed him off. So, Alice not only endangered the dolphins, but she also nearly destroyed all wildlife in Snuggford to keep Amy by her side! When confronted by this, Alice claims that men are evil, turning her into the man-hating psycho feminist stereotype that I hate which I’ll discuss later. Yes, I am aware that Alice later sacrifices her lives for the dolphins. However, her sabotage not only violated several ethics, but it also nearly murdered the flora and fauna of Snuggford! What’s even more infuriating is that Alice’s happy ending is where she gets to work with the dolphins and suffers no consequences for her actions!

Meanwhile, back at Snuggford, Jack and Crystal have to learn to work together to not only save the plants and animals but to maintain Amy’s clinic while she’s away. Unfortunately, the two come to blows as they both have different ideas on how to manage the clinic. Crystal wants to give the clinic a makeover while Jack wants to keep things professional. Needless to say, they clash often with Jack finding Crystal too shallow and flighty, yet Crystal is the one who manages to figure out what’s causing the epidemic. She’s the one who points out the unusual holes that everyone else dismisses as being made by bunnies. Yet, if Crystal does not ask for help when needed, Jack won’t listen to her. At least, I’m assuming that’s what happens. Honestly, I only played the game twice and, both times, I had Crystal not only open up to Arthur but be honest with Amy and Jack. However, according to the ending paths, Crystal changes her wardrobe based on whether she wants to stay in Snuggford or go back to the city. If she goes back to the city, she stays in her glamorous dress and heels. If she stays in Snuggford, she trades her dress and hells for jeans and sneakers. Yes, it’s the traditional character development makeover that defines women only, instead of trying to get the guy, Crystal’s learning to be more relaxed with her appearance so working at the clinic would be easier. Which style looks better on Crystal is up to you. Honestly, I think Crystal looks better in her casual appearance but that’s a matter of opinion.

As I said earlier, both Alice and Jack compete for Amy’s attention. However, Jack is not trying to get Amy to notice him because he thinks that she spends too much time at work. Instead, it’s because of the epidemic I mentioned earlier. While Jack and Amy are both vets, Jack feels that Amy is more capable of figuring out what’s going on. Meanwhile, Alice is trying to keep Jack from Amy for her own selfish reasons. Alice repeatedly says that men can’t stand successful women while, at the same time, controlling her own daughter the way she accuses Jack of controlling her. Alice blames the men for the bad decisions in her life, yet it was her who chose to abandon her family. During the game, we see Alice accuse a man of breaking her heart over the phone, a man who is married to another woman. As I said earlier, she is also the one who endangers the dolphins by not only fixing the text results but separating Shira from her pups. Alice is the evil girlboss which, according to The Take, is when the media villainizes career-oriented women. I wish this wasn’t the case but, unfortunately, Alice checks all the boxes. She’s a career-oriented woman who acts unprofessionally for her own selfish desires. She also unrightfully blames the men in her life for her own failings, making her the straw feminist as well. This not only villainizes career-oriented women but gives the impression that the reason women don’t succeed as well as men is not because of oppression against women. Instead, it falsely accuses women of using men as scapegoats for their own shortcomings. While Karen, from Amber’s Airline, had villainous girlboss tendencies, her worries about Amber were not unfounded as she had failed the flight attendant test. Yet, in the end, Karen softened up and was actually impressed with how Amber oversaw a true emergency. Alice, on the other hand, only gets one chance to redeem herself which she does take. She risks her life to save Amy, Shira and her pups. While this is an amazing thing for Alice to do, it doesn’t change the fact that she’s the reason they were in trouble in the first place.

Lisa, Amy’s childhood friend, also has her own story to tell. She grew up an orphan and overhears Amy talking to the head of the orphanage that raised Lisa about her birth mother. Needless to say, she decides to search for her. Which makes an interesting contrast to Amy dealing with the mother who abandoned when she was a child. Both are dealing with estranged mothers who left their children. One searching for their mother while the other has to deal with her coming back into her life.

The game play is similar to Amy’s Pet Clinic, where your job is to tend to pets. You drag a pet to different stations, fulfill the request and then check them out.

Yep, it’s that easy.

Some pets require you to play a mini game in order to fulfill the request.

Believe it or not, there’s entire levels dedicated to this.

Every level has a special challenge which you complete to earn a diamond. You can spend these diamonds to adopt and care for three pets. As I said earlier, there are various endings throughout the game. That is because you get to pick options for the characters to take during the story. Each character comes with their own happy ending. Crystal choosing to stay in Snuggford, Jack telling his sick mother about Amy, Lisa finding her mother, Shira and her pups finding a home in the wild, Alice still working with the dolphins, Amy leaving the door open for Alice to come back into her life and Ginger not falling victim to the epidemic. Wait a minute, did I forget to mention Ginger the horse who Amy treated at the orphanage? Oh well, she really served no purpose other than to practice making story choices before getting to the more serious plots. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by Shira’s happy ending being that she and the pups live a happy life in the wild rather than the story claiming that being in captivity is the happy ending for the dolphins. As The Cove and Blackfish point out, captivity is not a happy life for marine mammals and the game agrees. Amy even says that she’s against putting dolphins in captivity at the beginning of the game. Her argument with Alice about not freeing Shira and the pups is more about how it’s too soon to release them rather than whether they’ll be happy in the wild. Alice and Amy’s endings I was not so happy about. Yes, Alice did risk her life for the dolphins but, again, she still endangered them. In the Choices book Bloodbound, the character of Gaius starts out evil but then sides with the heroes for reasons that would take too long to explain. When he asks the heroes if this one good deed made up for his sins, they made it clear that, while they do appreciate what he did, it’s going to take more than one good deed to atone for all the evil he did. I feel like the same should go for Alice, who should have suffered at least some type of repercussion for her unprofessional behavior as well as her horrible treatment towards her daughter. In my opinion, Alice should have had to work hard to earn Amy trust and the trust of the organization she works for.

Like every other Gamehouse Original Story, you collect trophies based on actions in the game.

I’ve only got one more left!

Unfortunately, if you want all of the trophies, that might take a long while. Let me explain that there are challenge levels as well as story levels in the game. One of the challenges is about taking care of one animal the entire level. Unfortunately, there’s a trophy available where you have to take care of fifty of them. So, after the challenge levels are done which doesn’t even have fifty animals for you to take care of, you have to hope the daily challenge does. Right, I forgot about the daily challenge which allows you to play an extra level a day. I’m actually still doing the daily challenges just to get that one trophy I’m missing, so you think I would do a better job remembering that.

This game is interesting but a little messed up. I give it 6 out of 10; some characters not only got off way too easily, but they make it far too difficult to collect all of the trophies. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know and feel free to request your own review in the comments, or send it to my email, or my discord at suburbantimewaster#8733.

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