It can be so easy for a game to try to cater to everybody and it having a very underwhelming response, so watching a team focus their work to strengthen what it does is commendable. In the case of Ultimate Chicken Horse, Clever Endeavour Games has done exactly that by removing the single player puzzle mode which was looking interesting.It was lost to make sure the multiplayer is as good as it could possibly be and it’s worth it.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is very simple. You play an animal of your choosing, get put in a stage and need to contribute to get to the end, while trying to stop your friends or opponents from doing the same, repeatedly until someone scores the most points. Each round you all get to place another item on the stage to either get yourself to the end, or to contribute to stopping others getting to the end.
That’s where the challenge and brilliance of this game kicks in. After the initial placing of items to get from A to B, comes the challenges and that can happen quickly. Items come as simple as blocks for traversing, to spinning, moving saw blades, to honey on a ledge to stop people jumping from it. It’s crazy, wacky and a lot of fun.
The game is structured in rounds. Each round everybody gets to place an item and then have a crack at getting to the end. If you place a trap and someone falls in you get a few points, but the most points are gained by getting to the end of the stage. If everybody gets to the end, the level is deemed too easy and no points are distributed, much the same as if nobody gets to the end. Once someone passes the Level enough times they take the win. If more than one player gets enough points to win in the same round, they then have to complete the Level again and the person to do it in the fastest time wins.
So the above is all fun and games, but how to play a multiplayer is key. If you have multiple controllers or are playing online, everyone has their turns at the same time, which is absolutely insane watching the chaos ensuing and certainly adds to the game. But if you have people in your house and only one controller that’s fine too as the ability to share a controller has been added. In which case everyone has their turn placing the item and then everyone has their turn beating the level. It not only works well, but it’s actually a fun way to play the game, having a less chaotic and more methodical feel to your platforming Levels.
There is a single player mode where you basically get in some practice but it’s quite bland unless all you want to do is experiment at your own pace. The online multiplayer on the other hand works really well. It was fun playing the game against people from all around the world, including one round where there was someone from Asia, the UK and the US. Surprisingly there was very little lag in that roundand thanks to the nature of the game that just means the other character gets a bit rubber bandy but that doesn’t impact you at all.
The art style is silly, but great in its own way. The characters hilariously look like that are out of a bad children’s cartoon but thanks to the silky smooth animations and the great scenery, it all fits together to give charming feel. The sound effects also feel like they are out of the same cartoon giving a surprising amount of atmosphere.
As a single player game there isn’t much that Ultimate Chicken Horse can offer. As a multiplayer, both online or couch co-op there is so much fun to be had with this game with a surprising amount of variation in Level design, there is planet here to help you make the stage harder and will make for a lot of fun to be had, with friends or strangers.
Released: February 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows 7 or Higher)
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Developer: Clever Endeavour Games
Publisher: Clever Endeavour Games