Ultimate Chicken Horse Review
Ultimate Chicken Horse is a party-platformer in which players take control of animal avatars and have to race each other to the finish line symbolised by a red flag. After every round of racing, players can place new traps on the level to make the subsequent runs harder. Sabotage your friends and race to the flag, who will be the Ultimate Chicken Horse?
Item Placement Between Rounds: The main unique mechanic which allows Ultimate Chicken Horse to stand out from other party-platformers is the item placement mechanic which allows players to place down traps and obstacles in-between rounds. Whilst this may sound simple, it adds replayability due to every game played being inherently different. Each level acts as a canvas which allows players to then further build upon what’s initially provided by the game. Of course, this allows you to then make certain sections of the level harder than normal, or make sections easier by placing additional platforms to bypass them.
Various Modes: While Ultimate Chicken Horse (known as UCH henceforth) is a party game which solely consists of racing to the end flag in every level, the game manages to not only be refreshing through its unique mechanics but by also including various modes to diversity content. Party mode is the standard go-to mode which most players will play to experience what the game has to offer. Creative mode allows players to select any item to place onto the level in between rounds, instead of a few randomized options as provided in Party mode. The greater freedom allows for more tactical planning to sabotage opponents and assist the player in reaching the end goal. Challenge mode, for the more hardcore players, offer “speed runs” inclusive with online leaderboards and tasks players with racing to the end as fast as possible. Finally, the “Free Play” mode allows the user to create their own custom levels, again promoting the idea of creativity to make unique levels. Whilst the core concept of UCH is the same, the modes offer different types of avenues to experience the game in their own way.
Scoring System: UCH is a game where you must become the Ultimate player by reaching the end goal. After every round, players are rewarded points based on their performance. UCH features a unique scoring system which caters to all types of playing styles. For example, reaching the goal will provide players with a set amount of points, but the first player that reaches the goal will get additional points due to being the first one there. Of course, this rewards players who take risks reaching the goal and overcome the increasingly difficult obstacles presented by the game and other players. Other ways of scoring points are for example by placing traps and killing opponents with them. This is a trade off because not only can the traps you place kill you, you will then have to pick a trap in between the round. This subsequently prevents you from picking an item such as an additional platform which could be used to make sections of the level easier.
Unlockables: UCH has plenty of unlockables which range from additional levels to play, characters to use and outfits to customise the characters you already have. These are unlocked by collecting “Mystery Boxes” during levels. Upon collecting one, a player in the lobby will randomly unlock an outfit/level/character. The appearance of these boxes also increases when more players are present. The inherent flaw of this system is due to the lack of control. The unlockables are random and even if one appears you may not unlock anything. Outfits and additional characters, whilst a nice addition, only provide cosmetic change that also adds charm to the characters. Although this is kept to keep the game balanced, it would be nice if different characters had unique abilities to diversify game play. For example the chicken may be able to double jump, or the horse may be able to run slightly faster. Unlocking Outfits and characters currently hold no value instead of just “being there”.
No Singleplayer: UCH is an example of a “multiplayer game only”. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, an option for some form of single player mode would be appreciated. If a player had no internet connection, the game would be unplayable barring the “free play” mode. There are no enemy AI to vs, or a single player story or mode to play. Whilst local couch co-op is an option for those with someone to play with, it’s not the most optimised gaming solution due to lower number of players in-game and diminished chances of unlocking additional content. Speedrunners is another party-platformer like UCH, however that has a whole single player experience as well as enemy AI to play against. There is no excuse for a lack of single player content barring level creation.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is a very good example of how to make a party game. It excels in making gameplay fresh and diverse with multiple levels to choose and unlock, a unique scoring mechanic to reward different play styles and diverse items to select to place into the level in-between rounds to shape and mold the way the level should be played. Whilst UCH is a very good example of a party game, it does fall short due to it’s lack of single player content. If you have an unstable internet connection, or have periods of no connection, UCH may not be the game for you, otherwise it is a good addition for those who want to have a lot of fun online.
Ultimate Chicken Horse was developed and published by Clever Endeavour Games. It was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One [reviewed] on December 15th, 2017. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.