Ultimate Chicken Horse is a silly, nonsensical, yet surprisingly strategic co-op platformer. You set up increasingly difficult obstacle courses as you and your friends try to work your way through. The customization is really wonderful and can lead to some hilarious moments. Whether you are playing locally or online, this is a fantastic multiplayer game.
Each stage begins with a start and finish location with nothing in between. At the turn’s beginning, each character selects an item from a small list and places them anywhere in the area. Once complete, the characters must run and jump their way towards the end, avoiding any dangerous obstacles that might be present. The turns continue as players add more and more helpful - but more often harmful - items to the environment. These can range from swinging wrecking balls and rotating platforms, to slippery ice covered ledges and moving buzzsaws. The stages always get really crazy but the controls are tight enough to allow for easy management.
The balance of these weapons is key to the game and where the strategy come in. The game is based on a point system so holding the lead will definitely influence what kind of obstacle you want to introduce. See a section that is leading to a lot of successful jumps? Put a wall there and cut it off. At the same time, instead of a new item you can sometimes get explosives that will remove previous obstacles. The variety of items and how they work together is really great.
The scoring system is also real rewarding. Reaching the finish line grants points but a number of other useful tasks do as well. Having an opponent fall to one of your traps gets you a few. If you are losing by a significant margin and then manage to reach the end you get a huge “Underdog” bonus. The coin item can also be placed in the stage and reaching the end after grabbing it will net an additional reward as well. Points are dealt out nicely and can easily bring a weaker player back into the game.
Surrounding all this is a nice light hearted artstyle. The characters are what really shine. Every player is a different animal that chirps and dances constantly. For example, reaching the goal as the squirrel will have him skipping rope with his tail while the chameleon will dance side to side while changing color. In fact, holding Y on the controller will make your animal dance in place. On top of these, many of the game’s unlocks are different colors and costumes. Playing as a raccoon in a hoodie or a orange striped horse in a top hat and bow tie only add to the hilarity of the game. From start to finish the game is an enjoyable experience.
The Elephantastic Update adds a few new worthwhile features. A new pink elephant character is introduced along with tons of new costumes. New items like a paper airplane flier that you can ride or a rotating cog which, if glued to an item, will rotate that item constantly, etc. Along with new stages, there is also a level browser now for finding user created content which is a huge plus.These additions are definitely worth jumping back into the game for.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is a fantastic multiplayer game for players of any skill level. The simple idea of building a level as you progress has tons of possibilities. Knowing when to make areas harder or easier can lead to some great moments. The Elephantastic Update improves on this significantly with more customization options and a level browser. Being able to access uploaded stages really leans into the endless creativity. This is a fantastic game.