Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4) Review
Release Date: December 12, 2017
Developer: Clever Endeavour Games
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (pending)
Ultimate Chicken Horse is the perfect title for this game. At first, it makes no sense, but as time goes on you slowly, but surely, get a grip on this insane party game. While you won't really get value out of the title if you solo play, Ultimate Chicken Horse is a great game to pull out for guaranteed laughs at a party.
In the game, you pick one of several colorful animals, and are placed in a level with a simple objective: you are on Point A and you need to get to Point B. Usually there's a Bottomless Pit below you. Gameplay twists back and forth between platforming and placing objects. You can drop a platform to make it easier, or a deathtrap to make it harder. You play chicken with your friends by seeing who can get there while skirting death, and horse like the old McDonald's Jordan vs. Bird "Nothing but Net" commercials (I'm seriously dating myself here) by adding more and more extreme tricks and seeing how big of an obstacle you can overcome that your opponent can't.
Solo, there are several community levels that you can challenge yourself with. You can challenge others online, but the real joy in the game is in the couch competition, watching your opponents wriggle as they fail to overcome your obstacle. My kids saw the preview when I was given the option to review Ultimate Chicken Horse and begged me to review it so they could try it. They had fun, but admittedly it isn't a quick pick up game. New players may have difficulty getting used to the interface, especially younger players with less patience. Once they got the hang of it, gameplay definitely improved, though my indecisive son would sometimes extend games trying to decide what to put down.
The game does a good job of trying to keep things fair: points really don't do anything if everyone dies or everyone makes it. You get extra points for killing an opponent with your trap, being the first, etc. The only detriment is that most players need to be the same skill level in order to have a fun time. In games like Mario Kart, someone can be good and someone can be terrible, yet the bad player can still be encouraged by the others, and still usually has a chance to finish and have fun. This game isn't the kind that you can hand a spare controller to a five year old during a death match between experts.
There are quite a few different worlds to go into, but most of the creativity comes from the community, be it on your local couch or online. The new PS4 edition includes the "Elephantastic Update" (video below) that adds even more blocks, characters, and outfits for you to enjoy. If you tend to be alone in gaming, it would be best to steer clear, but if you have a regular team of people who get together for party nights, Ultimate Chicken Horse is a great addition to your Pile 'o' Distractions. The death defying game of Chicken crossed with a "I can do better" game of Horse amongst equally skilled friends can create a chaotic, fun atmosphere worthy of the "one more round" treatment.
-Quick, silly, couch local multiplayer fun
-Fast and simple to understand
-"Elephantastic Update" adds more to the fun
-While small, it does what it does well
-Not really a game for varied skill level players
-Single player exists but lacks the excitement of multiplayer
-Straightforward: you get what you see
Special thanks to Clever Endeavour for providing a copy of the game for review!