Ultimate Chicken Horse is madness. I mean that in the best possible way, of course, and if you sit your arse down and keep away from clicking through one terrible YouTube video after another, I’ll tell you why in this review.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is a party game first and foremost. So if you’re a Billy-no-mates and your family detests you, you’re probably best off trying to make nice with people rather than play this social special. Sorry.
Most party games tend to be of the platforming variety, either that or endless quizzes, but this oddly-named oddity is a whole lot different. Rather than the game tell you that you’re competing against your fellow players, you and your controller wielding posse are left to decide for yourself. Friends will go turncoat on you. Enemies will offer you a helping hand. You’ll slap the person sitting next you. It’ll all good fun and, at least in my experience, it doesn’t cause long-term damage. What’s not to like?
The game’s best and most-frequented mode is Party. Here you and your cohorts will attempt to make it from one end of the screen to the other. First one there wins! Oh but it’s not as simple as that. Not by the long shot of the beer bottle being flung across the room.
Rather than race your opponents to the finish, Ultimate Chicken Horse has you actively hindering them by way of the level design. At the start of the game each player has an object which they must place somewhere between the start and the finish line. It sounds simple but I haven’t finished explaining yet. The objects you all get vary. It may be a harmless yet useful plank of wood, or it could be a deadly chainsaw. Either way, whatever you’ve got needs to be placed on the map, and depending on where you place your item, it may make life difficult for everyone – yourself included.
In giving the players the task of placing obstacles and helpful platforms, the developers have created a monster in all of us. If you decide to place your plank in an easy to reach location that aids in getting from start to finish, you’re a hero and everyone will give you an approving, manly nod. Put your chainsaw in the path of an easy route, however, and you’ll find yourself reviled amongst your peers. Don’t bow into the pressure of being the social outcast. The shame only lasts until the next “good friend” sends you and your allies down the toilet with last night’s kebab.
Although the game may cause you to paint the air blue, it’s actually quite a cute little thing. In fact, that makes it all the more daft. All of the characters are simple, animated animals. Clue’s in the game’s name, to be fair. It’s all presented in such a cartoony way that once the inevitable dogpile has started on the floor, you’ll look at the screen and question whether a cartoon sheep being the winner is worth breaking furniture for. It’s simple and it’s silly but it absolutely works.
The depth of the game isn’t apparent from its colourful levels, but it’s there. When you’ve got a few people playing together, the strategies begin. You’ll realise early on which players have a natural ability when it comes to platforming. You’ll notice who’s likely to drop you in the doo-doo, and you’ll be aware of who can be relied upon to play it safe in lieu of having great thumb skills. In some ways the game extends from the screen to your immediate vicinity, and that’s something that I absolutely love in party games. If all the fun is going on in the screen in front of you, something ain’t right. There needs to be that tangible connection to the non-pixelated world.
The fun isn’t restricted to the one mode, though, and despite what I said about the loners up above, there is a single player aspect for those who want it. Those who neglect to shower will find fun in the game’s Challenge mode, though they’re also playable with friends. It’s here that you’ll be able to play maps made by the game’s active online community. Like with any other user-generated content, some of it is pants and some of it is gold. Thankfully it’s easy enough to sift the pile and filter out the turds. Some levels are just plain fun, while others present a devilishly difficult workout for the thumbs.
It’s in Ultimate Chicken Horse’s Free Mode that you’ll be able to try crafting together a level worthy of a download. It’s all very easy to use and uploading your level for others to play is a doddle. I didn’t find it to be my cup of tea, though, but that’s because I just wanted to keep on playing. For those with a creative/sadistic streak, it’s definitely worth having a look at when you’ve got a bit of time on your hands.
And finally, there’s Creative Mode. It’s more or less the same as Party Mode except that each player gets to pick the objects themselves rather than being dealt a random item. It’s a nice twist on the most popular mode, but I still found that we’d naturally gravitate towards Party Mode rather than Creative. Needless to say, then, it’s the random aspect that keeps things interesting.
It may not look like much on the surface, but trust me when I say that there’s an amazing game hiding behind the sweet music, cute characters, and simple presentation. Just be prepared for a few scuffles on the couch.
Ultimate Chicken Horse PS4 Review
Ultimate Chicken Horse is now my go-to party game. No doubt about it. If you have friends, you need this game. If you don't have friends, make some and then play Ultimate Chicken Horse and lose them.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.