‘Ultimate Chicken Horse’ video game review
By Lauren Kelly, Contributor
Ultimate Chicken Horse (2016) is a competitive platformer where the players themselves build the stage as they play. Funded on Kickstarter, Ultimate Chicken Horse allows up to four people to play online or in local co-op. Local co-op is a requirement for most multiplayer games I play—growing up, there was nothing more fun than sitting down with friends or family to work together or destroy each other. Ultimate Chicken Horse delivers on both of these fronts. Also, you play as cute animals.
There is a set starting point and goal in each of the game’s levels, and you want to be the first to reach the goal. Each finish is worth a set amount of points, with other points being awarded for various endeavors. However, if the course you and your friends have made is too easy and you all finish it, no points are awarded to anyone. To make things difficult, the space between the start and finish gets filled in by the players with stationary and moving platforms as well as booby traps, including spikes, crossbows, flowers that punch you, and tennis ball launchers. If any trap touches you, you’re out for the round, so the goal is to set traps that will catch your friends so that you can beat them. You can also glue items together, creating moving deathtraps that make the stages even more unpredictable.
The game has three modes: Party, Creative, and Free. Party mode is the primary game mode, as described above. In this mode, to build the level, players have a random assortment of five items to choose from, which they can place anywhere in the level. This means no two games will be the same, because you’ll always be building with different items in different orders. Creative mode allows players to choose from any item to build the stages, and Free mode is essentially a level creator mode, and players can switch between designing the level and testing it at any time.
This game is honestly one of the most fun multiplayer experiences I’ve had in a long time. The combination of working to screw your friends over while planning how you’ll make it past the litany of traps is exciting, and, unless one of your friends is incredibly competitive, dying in ridiculous ways can be almost as fun as getting to the end. The more you play the more you unlock, with new levels, characters, and outfits popping up as you go. You start with one simple level—a farm—but the levels become increasingly harder as you unlock them. The only one I don’t like playing is the final level, which is disco-themed and has random black bars that obscure the obstacles.
The game is also very versatile. Are your friends good at platformers? You can play later, tougher levels. Are you introducing someone who hasn’t played as many similar games? The starter levels are much simpler, while still being fun, and there’s no big-time investment necessary. If you have 30 minutes, you can get a few rounds in, or you can spend hours playing it without it feeling stale. Lastly, no matter what type of computer you have, you can most likely play it, as it is available on Windows, Linux, and Mac. If that doesn’t work for you, it will be released on the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch this fall. It’s only $16.99 on Steam, which is a fantastic deal for how much game time and social time you’ll get out of it.