Sometimes you just look at the title of a game and you wonder, what the hell is that all about? Ultimate Chicken Horse is one of those games, this is an experience that’s as silly and outrageous as the title it adopts. Ultimate Chicken Horse is a party platformer that sees you and your buddies fighting to make it from the starting point of each level, to the ending point. The twist however is that there’s a huge gap that players will need to bridge themselves in-turn using a range of items and objects. Ultimate Chicken Horse is all about getting that one up on your nearest and dearest whilst putting number one (you) first. It’s a game about greed, selfishness, and cunning, and it works remarkably well.
Each player will select from a collection of different animals to play as, ranging from a chicken, horse, sheep and even a chameleon. Players will take turns placing and moving an object around the map, which includes standard platform pieces to objects that deliberately obstruct or prevent progression of the other players. When items and objects have been placed, players will then attempt to cross the chasm in an attempt to make it to the end point. Players will receive points for different factors, such as avoiding traps and making it to the end in the fastest time possible. Interestingly enough, no points will be dished out if the match is over and done with with very little action.
This alone promotes focus on being a nuisance, and it’s a notion that never truly gets old. The ability to upload a level for online players to try out is also present, and let me tell you, there’s some spiteful people out there. The gameplay elements remain tight and responsive throughout, regardless as to what phase you are playing. I was pleasantly surprised to see how fluid everything is, from building on the map to the actual platforming. It helps that each animal is well crafted and brings their own unique sounds and movements into the fold, further bolstered by the colourful level design and nerve pounding soundtrack. If you thought Oh My Godheads was going to be the best party game to sink into during the holiday season, think again.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is where the fun is at – which is essential for a time of year when loved ones gather under the same roof. That’s not to say that this game is local play only, nope, unlike that aforementioned comparison, Ultimate Chicken Horse can be enjoyed online too. Party Mode is where I suspect most players will gravitate towards, given the uncertainty that comes with. Each round in this mode begins with a box that contains four random items. Once each player has chosen and placed an item, it’s an all out race to the end point. The selection of traps you can utilise are by no means exhaustive, though equally are as dangerous as the rest if used correctly. Crossbows will litter the level, wrecking balls will constantly swing in-place, spinning chainsaws will test your reflexes, ice can be used on existing platforms and many many more.
Each trap can indeed be overcome, be it with a well placed bomb or via some skillful platforming skills, which ensures there’s a competitive balance throughout. Not everything in Ultimate Chicken Horse is multiplayer based. There’s a short single player challenge mode to soak up too, which enables you to select a handful of levels from user created content and attempt to nuke them all as quickly as can be. Despite the inclusion of this solo playing aspect, it goes without saying that most of the fun is found in multiplayer. There’s a decent band of unlocks to chase after, whether that be a cosmetic item or a new level, but in all honest I didn’t see much of a point in gating the levels.
Furthermore I much would have preferred a structured unlock system rather than a randomised one, simply for the online bragging rights. It’s a small problem to complain about, but certainly something that stuck out for me during my time with the game. There’s a decent portion of content bundled in the proverbial box, which is commendable when you take the fair asking price into account. There’s a nice band of modes to enjoy, such as creative mode – which is essentially party mode but without the randomisation, and more. Players can take all of this action across over ten maps that vary greatly from one another in terms of both theme and design. Needless to say that Ultimate Chicken Horse should be high up on your list of choices for family games this Christmas.
Ultimate Chicken Horse provides a canvas for you and your friends to create carnage on. Despite the lack of a structured unlock or progression system, this is a great game to pick up and enjoy in time for the festive break. It’s easy to play and as challenging as you and your nearest and dearest’s level of creativity and cunning. There’s no shortage of content thanks to not only the diverse maps and modes within, but the user generated content fans can take advantage of. It helps of course that the game plays, looks, and sounds exciting and inviting. If you’re looking for some chaotic fun that will have you and your chums laughing out loud, Ultimate Chicken Horse has your back.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.