Review: Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4)

Review: Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC, Mac, Linux

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Ultimate Chicken Horse
Format: PSN (1.10 GB)
Release Date: December 12, 2017
Publisher: Clever Endeavour Games
Developer: Clever Endeavour Games
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Ultimate Chicken Horse was an internet darling before it came to the PlayStation 4, earning notoriety on Steam and finding itself racking up hours and hours of Let’s Play videos. Now after several months of watching, PlayStation fans are finally able to get their hands on this competitive platformer.

What makes this game different is that the platforms are made on-the-fly as you play. The goal is simple make it from the starting point to the finish line and screw over whoever is playing with you.

It can be played by up to four people with matches broken into rounds and a blank canvas. At the beginning of each round each player can pick one item from a random selection that they then have a small window to place in the blank level. These items vary from simple platforms to traps and hazards. The players then use these placed items to make it to the finish line and are given points for reaching it until someone hits the required amount of points needed for a victory.

In order to score enough points to win, you have to begin to place traps that will eliminate the people you’re playing with and make a path for you to succeed. This obviously gets complicated because everyone is building and matches can become strategic nightmares as you build against others and the levels become more and more cluttered.

Ultimate Chicken Horse is an absolute blast and the amount of chicanery in any given match is beautiful. Matches can span several minutes and the end result is a level filled with beautiful chaos with several items scattered that make you wonder how anyone was even able to win at all.

The platforming needs to be solid for this game to work and thankfully it’s excellent and it’s precise, but not so much so that it can’t be fudged a little to make even a seemingly impossible obstacle possible.

I do have some minor gripes with the structure of the game though. My first is with how stages and costumes are unlocked. Each level you load into will have one item box that has either a new stage (background) or costume that you need to reach to unlock.

This is fine in theory except for whatever reason the unlock will be given to only one person at random. So even if you are the one that grabs the prize it doesn’t mean it will go to you, it may go to someone else. This is frustrating for obvious reasons. You want more stuff, but it’s all luck based and means you may have to wait a long time to unlock stuff you want.

Another smaller problem I have is with the menus and lobby system. The menus all rely on a cursor which on a console I have never been fond of. It’s isn’t too problematic in the main menu, but the server browser is slightly annoying to use with the cursor.

The lobby system is a different UI issue. Instead of using the cursor it’s more interactive. Each stage is a platform you can jump to and that’s how voting is done. Players all run to whichever stage they want and once everyone is on a stage voting is complete with the lobby host serving as a tiebreaker, if needed.

It adds unnecessary time in between matches waiting for people to reach a platform and often I found myself running to my selection and waiting for everyone else to reach their preferred destination which would sometimes be a drag.

Visuals:
The art is 2D with a slight paper-like quality which gives the game a very warm and welcoming appeal that hides the sometimes brutal gameplay. The art design is cute, the animal characters have a friendly cartoon look which, combined with the sometimes devilish mechanics, makes for a fun and interesting time.

You will see these adorable animals get shot by arrows, crushed by objects, and slapped with hockey pucks. It can be quite violent, but barely noticeable because of the happy-go-lucky nature of the art.

Audio:
Each stage has its own music that fits the theme of the background. It’s all light and happy, nothing dark or ominous to be found here. I enjoyed what I heard though matches can last a very long time, leading tracks to loop over and over. This usually meant that after a match dragged on I would soon forget there was even music being played in the background.

Online/Multiplayer:
The addition of Cross-Platform play means PlayStation 4 and PC players can enjoy the multiplayer together. To work around the inability to directly invite a Steam friend, the game features a server browser, which means you can browse open games and join friends that way.

Cross-Platform play is fantastic because it meant I was almost always able to find a server to play on thanks to the wider player base to choose from. The online connectivity has been great in my experience and the only issue I came across is with the server browser not updating fast enough when a server became full and giving me an unable to join prompt.

Conclusion:
Ultimate Chicken Horse is yet another great multiplayer game that can be enjoyed locally and online. Its premise and friendly visuals make it very easy to pick-up and introduce to other people and its potential for chaos make it something that will stay fresh for a long time.

Matches never feel the same because of the randomness of the items players can choose from and all the different strategies players apply. There isn’t much this game does wrong outside of how it approaches unlocks, which becomes less of a problem the more you play.

With solid platform mechanics, a unique approach to multiplayer and the Cross-Platform play between PS4 and PC, Ultimate Chicken Horse is highly recommended.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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