Ultimate Chicken Horse is a platform game which released in 2016. It’s available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android and Steam for 15$. It was developed by the studio Clever Endeavour and financed through a Kickstarter.
The game is only playable through local or online multiplayer , you can play alone in a free run but it isn’t really what the game is meant for.
Starting a party, you have the choice between 4 characters : a horse, a chicken, a sheep and a raccoon. After that you can choose between 13 levels, you first have 2 unlocked, the others will only be available while playing.
Once you chose your level, you soon discover it’s an empty environment. Each turn, one player gets to place 2 items in a small amount of time. The goal is to place traps you think your friends will fail to pass but not you. If every player manage to pass the level, no one gets points. If one or more dies, the survivors earn a point. Round by round, the levels can become more and more wild by adding traps over traps.
It is possible to destroy an item a player has previously placed but it will cost you one object placement as well. You only have the right to two so it’s better to think it through. It should probably be your joker if one trap is a nightmare or if you’re up to an even more evil plan.
The game is a whole lotta fun because it creates true rivalry while having a good laugh. The game has also a very cute design to back it up.
Ultimate Chicken Horse got its share of success with 2 prizes won at the Boston Fig and two nominations at the Independent Games Festival and Indie Megabooth.
To know a bit more about it, here is an interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Clever Endeavour.
Would you have released the game without the major Kickstarter success ?
Yes, I think we would have released the game but with a smaller scope, and certainly without online multiplayer. The Kickstarter gave us a good idea that there was some interest in the game and that we should keep working on it.
How was the game idea developed ?
The game started as a game jam, which was a weekend long sprint where we had to create an entire game in the weekend. The goal was to see how well the co-founders of the company could work together before we officially started anything, and the result was this game! After showing it off at a local meetup, we got good feedback that we should continue working on it. From there, we showed it at a demo night then had our Kickstarter and the audience kept growing and giving us positive feedback on our work.
How did you choose this game design style ?
The design happened a bit randomly… we had been trying to follow the themes of the game jam which included “modular”, “the ultimate ___”, and “phrase”. We kinda dropped the “phrase” part, but we did keep the idea of modularity. The idea was always to build levels rather than run through levels, and as we were playing we realized that the running part was fun too. So we ended up with this situation where you would build the level piece by piece but run through the new creation to see if you could make it. The result is a somewhat unique game design, but I can’t say that there was no luck involved in finding it. The part where skill became more of a factor was in sticking with the core of the game’s design and adding and improving features which helped fortify that vision once we had identified it. In terms of the art, we knew we wanted simple, 2D, hand-drawn art where the characters had just enough expression to have personality, but also open (or hollow) enough characters that you could envision yourself as the character. This was Kyler’s original idea, and I think we stuck to it well in all of the art in the game.