“Everything about this game keeps you enjoying it for hours on end.”
If you are a fan of games that induce moderate-to-hilarious stress levels and screwing over your friends in a bid for hard-fought victory, Ultimate Chicken Horse is almost certainly for you. An early access title on Steam straight out of Kickstarter, the 2D competitive multiplayer party platformer has been developed by the sadistic comedians at Clever Endeavour Games, and their game certainly suits their name! Simple in its concept yet wildly fun and effective, Ultimate Chicken Horse provided me with several hours of entertainment on an otherwise quiet Monday evening. So, despite not being asked to preview the game, I decided it was well worthy of some coverage!
The basic idea in Ultimate Chicken Horse is to navigate your animal avatar from A to B on one of several unique maps. At the start of the game, the distance in between is generally an open expanse, occasionally with some moving components, therefore leaving the means of making the journey down to the players. As well as wanting to make it to the finish yourself, you will also want to stop your opponents from doing the same. The quicker you can get there and the fewer people who make it, the more points you can earn. There are even bonus points on offer if the traps you set are what stop the other players in their tracks. There is a lot at stake and tensions can easily begin to run high as the game goes on. This, however, only adds to the excitement.
At the start of each round in the game, a “Party Box” appears on-screen, and players must race to choose the object or trap that they want to use this turn from the random selection which is generated. Generally speaking, there are three different types of object that you can use. Some are platforms, both big and small, stationary and moving. These are the objects you can use to create new paths, or to block off other peoples. Other items are traps, which can include anything from saw blades, hockey puck-launchers and crossbows to barbed wire, ice and glue, which can stick to other objects. Finally you have a few miscellaneous items with unique effects. These include bombs, which can be used to destroy other people’s already placed objects, and teleportation devices which, quite simply, teleport players who step into them. Objects are easy to place and position with a snap grid system in the game, and you get plenty of time to choose where to put each new item at the start of the round.
Once everyone has played their hand with a view to ruining your day and becoming the ultimate form of their current avatar, the real craziness begins. You can run, jump and duck as you attempt to make your way across the map, with wall jumps also being permitted if you need to climb. Sadly, players cannot interact with one another to add to the already inevitable friction. This works in the sense that nobody can essentially bully another player every round, but some sort of minor push interaction would suit the game’s style perfectly. There are however a few stage interactions which can be found on certain maps. Controlling your avatar through the levels is simple and comfortably designed though, with no real learning curve to worry about before jumping into a game. You can even dance if you feel a burning desire to gloat or taunt.
The stylisation of Ultimate Chicken Horse also deserves some commendation. It could easily have been made as another ultra-violent experience for comedy purposes. Instead a friendlier, more subtle theme has been opted for, giving the game a bright, almost cartoony appearance. Not only does this distract from the otherwise-calamitous tone of the game, but it also opens up the mayhem to younger gamers to whom the action will undoubtedly appeal. Almost elevator-style backing music can be enjoyed at times too, with the developers clearly going for a sadistically happy effect atop a mountain of pure, unadulterated mayhem. The animals even make cute noises as they leap around the abundance of murder-fuelled devices surrounding them. It all looks and feels lovely, which is a delight and a frustration all at once when you get down to what the game is truly all about.
Naturally, as an early access title, this game still has a lot of work being put into it, and some parts do not quite work as intended just yet. Online multiplayer is overtly stated as still being in beta, however the local multiplayer option works perfectly and is a barrel or laughs to enjoy. Everything about this game keeps you enjoying it for hours on end. The style is great, the gameplay is manic, and the relationship issues it can create for you and your peers are strangely addictive. Ultimate Chicken Horse is an ideal party game for literally anyone to play. At a very worthwhile price tag (£10.99 on Steam’s UK store at the time of writing), there is literally no reason not to pick it up!
- Wildly fun and effective.
- Highly competitive.
- Easy to learn to play.
- Playable for hours without getting bored.
- Infinite replayability.
- Ideal for both local and online multiplayer.
- Good map variety.
- Fun and friendly aesthetical style; in prefect contrast to gameplay.
- Suitable for gamers young and old.
- Fantastic price tag for the quality and enjoyment.
- No interaction between player characters – it would be fun to be able to push!
- Multiplayer only, which may put some players off.
- Online multiplayer is still in beta and currently has some issues.