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Review: Ultimate Chicken Horse

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
This game is not just good fun, it also stays fairly true to Christian moral values, making it a great addition to anyone's library!

ESRB Rating: E10 - Everyone (Ages 10 and up)
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: Party Game / Platformer
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2016
Review Published On: August 31, 2018
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Everything is recorded automatically, so you can concentrate on having fun with your friends rather than worrying about losing progress.

Summary of
Major Issues:

There's some mild violence, as the rule of the game is to be the only one who can survive the obstacle course you've built. Still, all this amounts to is having a dead character lie there with X'd out eyes, so it's extremely tame.


[view screenshot]
The race is on!

[view screenshot]
Waiting for the elevator

[view screenshot]
Chameleon flubbed the landing

Game Overview

Sometimes, people just want to have some fun together. And sometimes, having fun means screwing with them. Ultimate Chicken Horse is a silly little game about trying to reach the finish line while also preventing your friends from doing the same. Thus, those who survive will be the Ultimate Chicken -- or Horse, or Raccoon, or Cyborg Bunny. Whatever floats your boat.

Each turn, you each place, move, or remove at least one object from the level (the specifics can be customized). Then, it's up to everybody to try to scramble through the obstacle course you and your friends have created. Once everybody either reaches the finish line or dies trying, points are awarded and the next round begins. This continues until somebody reaches or surpasses the target score, at which point they are declared the Ultimate Whatever and the game ends.

With a dozen stages to play with and the ability to download premade levels from other fans of the game, things can stay fresh and interesting for some time. It's not the most complicated game out there, but it's good, clean fun for multiple players. If you and your friends like silly and simple Platformers, you'll probably have a good time spending a Friday night eating pizza and racing each other through the crazy worlds you create together.

You technically can play this game alone, but it's not really worth it, as this game is meant to be played by two to four players. That's one of the drawbacks of party games.

Points of Interest

Online or local play
Since this isn't really a single player game, you'll want to find someone to play with. This can be done over the internet, but you can also play it with family and friends who are with you in person. For example, someone can use the keyboard while the other players use controllers. However, there is also the "Shared controller couch". Using this feature forces the game into its turn based mode, but it also allows you to share one keyboard or controller among everybody who wants to play.
Lots of unlockables
At first, only some of the cast and levels are available. As you play the game, levels sometimes get marked with a ? icon. When this happens, the level will contain a cardboard box held in the air with balloons. Collect it as you play through the stage and you'll get a prize of some kind. These prizes unlock new content for the game, such as new playable characters, new stages, or just fancy costumes for the characters you've already unlocked.
Customizable handicaps and game rules
One of the big themes in this game is customization, and this goes for the game's rules as well. You can change a number of things, including the length of each game, how many parts players can manipulate per round, and even which parts are usable. On top of this, there is a special option that allows you to adjust how the scoring works. This levels the playing field; for example, a skilled player could choose to reduce the number of points they earn from accomplishing things so that their less skilled friends have more of a chance.
Downloadable levels
For some extra fun, you can download levels that have been designed by other players. These use the original twelve levels as their base, but unlike normal play, they have already been populated with traps, platforms, and other objects. This feature is a little bit hidden, so here's how to locate it: just jump down the well to the right of the treehouse and head to the big computer set up underground. Interacting with it will bring up the menu that allows you to download new levels.
Steam achievements
There are a total of 31 achievements to earn in Ultimate Chicken Horse, and they generally fall under three groups: those that require you to have done something a given number of times, those that are awarded for unlocking stuff, and those that are earned by doing something unique. Ultimately, all of them are easy enough to get just by playing the game. That said, you might need to put in a lot of time to earn some of the more difficult ones.
Experience can make you "that guy"
Just about everyone has run across "that guy" when playing a game, be it a board game, outdoor sport, or multiplayer video game. Sooner or later, you'll encounter someone who is much more skilled at the game than everyone else, and even if they're nice about it, playing against them can suck. Fans of Platformers will already have an advantage in Ultimate Chicken Horse over those that play other genres, as the game assumes you already know basic concepts like wall jumping.

Unlockables in a party game also unfortunately set players up to become that guy; while players may work together to unlock all of the neat content, there's a real chance that the host will have spent time unlocking these features themselves. This can ruin the fun, as the host will have become skilled at the game, while their friends are still inexperienced. On the plus side, you can adjust the scoring system to handicap the skilled player, but that might not be enough in some cases.

Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
If everybody makes it to the finish line, then nobody earns points for that round. Thus, ensuring that the other players end up dying during their attempt is not just recommended, but actively promoted. But this isn't much to worry about: there's never any blood or gore. Instead, whenever a character takes damage, they startle, then flop on the ground with Xs for eyes. Of course, those who fall into a bottomless pit simply shout and disappear for the rest of the round.

At the start of the next round, everybody is "alive" and ready to try again.

Amusingly, it's actually possible for someone to win after they died -- if your character's body happens to flop past the finish line, they'll jump up and start dancing like they reached the end of the level normally (though their eyes remain crossed out).