Developers: USAYA Co
Genre: Visual Novel, Dating Simulation
Platforms: Android, iOS
Price: Free with optional in-game purchases
Have you ever entered into a discussion about the weirdest things ever to become video games and found yourself regretting the course of said discussion? That would be how I came at this crossroads in my life. You see, I’m a single lady—I have been four thirty years and counting. Life’s sad. Especially around Valentine’s Day. Especially when your younger siblings and friends are getting married and having kids.
Dating sims aren’t exactly an unknown element in the gaming world, nor are they entirely taboo. Heck, a lot of bigger titles such as Dragon Age and Harvest Moon feature “dating simulation” mechanics to one extent or another, so it’s not entirely out of left field for such a thing to have taken on a life of its own in its own genre. Originally, they were thought to help socially awkward youngsters learn how to engage in the art of courtship, but in more recent days they’ve mutated into a meme. Nowhere is this more obvious than in My Horse Prince.
I reviewed this game because I was morbidly curious. There are other sims where you can date actual pigeons, but this just seemed too magical to pass up. Before I even begin, I want you all to grab your phones and read the reviews on the iTunes and/or Google Play store. Hands down, those reviews are enough to bring tears to your eyes and possibly collapse a lung from laughing so hard. I’ve taken a bullet for you all; I hope you appreciate where my life’s come to. If, by the end of this review, you decide that your life has a man-faced-horse shaped hole in it then by all means—it’s free, after all. What harm could it do?
There’s no reference to the spiritual. This game has no soul.
While mild, there are scenarios where your…horse…prince kicks people and other horses. It’s comical in nature. There’s no blood but there’s plenty of poor spotsmanship.
There’s nothing that will make nuns blush. The older cousin of “darn” is present but that’s the worst of it.
Well. A horse man is trying to seduce you. While there’s no outright mentions of…the act there are a few pictures that are a little suggestive in nature.
The horse drinks. He also smokes. Thankfully, he does not let his bad habits take him down a darker road.
Grasping at straws, there are plenty of general “good things” worked into what little of a story there is. The main character, a girl that you name, takes on a responsibility that she’s not entirely ready for. After a while, she sticks with it and puts everything she has into seeing this new obligation out to its conclusion. Of course, it’s a dating sim, so there’s the topic of love, but it’s very hard to take seriously. The horse prince is actually chivalrous in nature, at least in regards to the female protagonist, and is nothing if not exceedingly complementary of her. At one point in the story he even races in to defend her against some street thugs. It has all the depth of an acorn shell but it’s a sugar-coated bag of nonsense so at the very least there’s that.
We begin our story by being introduced to the female protagonist. She’s tired of her life in the city and is growing discouraged in finding love. She works in an office surrounded by career-driven older men. Hoping to find a “hot guy,” she wanders out into the country. She finds herself at a ranch where she encounters the stable’s quirky owner and a strapping young horse…with the face of a very attractive young man. Startled, the girl demands explanation. The stable’s owner explains that girls born in the year of the horse sometimes see attractive human faces on horses. He also reveals that the horse is due to be disposed of as his upkeep is a little heavy on the wallet. Charmed by the attractive horse-man, the protagonist volunteers herself as the horse’s owner. She questions her decision, but the horse devotes himself to helping her with his upkeep by taking on part time jobs and warming himself up to her. To the protagonist’s shock and horror, she finds that she begins to develop feelings for her horse-man and strongly desires to see him rise to become the champion he was bred to be.
I promise that you did not just read a fanfiction. This is the lore of the game, and that’s about as deep as the story goes. The characters find themselves in odd scenarios that turn into rounds of mini-games which share the exact same mechanics. The game itself plays out like an animated storybook broken up into chapters. Each chapter introduces a situation in which the horse needs to perform in order to progress. Through the course of the mini-game all you need to do is tap whatever object drops onto the screen to force the horse to perform an action. Each tap costs energy which can be replenished if you talk to him. You can chat with the horse three times every half hour or so. You’ll have three options with which to answer his statement with. An excellent answer will replenish 30% of his energy, a good answer will give you 15% of his energy back, and a bad answer will remove 15% of his energy. Don’t worry, if you choose a bad answer a pop up will appear giving you the option to re-do the conversation if you watch an ad.
Each task takes a few hours to complete, so it’s best to spend a minute tapping the screen and conversing with your equine dreamboat and come back to it when you go on your fifteen minute break at work. Eventually, the task is done and the chapter concludes with a graphic and a little more dialogue between characters.
There’s not much else to it.
The artwork is impressive, I have to admit, and for a mobile game the animations aren’t bad. They’re quirky and silly, but there was effort put into it. The music isn’t too hard on the ears, though it’s nothing to hum to on your way to work either. Overall, a lot of work went into what’s essentially a joke wrapped up in a mobile game- but it gets old pretty quickly.
There’s no diversity in gameplay. Every level changes situations, props, and lines of dialogue but the mechanics are identical. The conversations loop, so it’s not too hard to remember what answers will give the horse prince the most energy. The story is worth a few chuckles, but it’s more fun to watch videos with the scenarios than to waste time on the mini game in-between. I may have enjoyed this quirky game a little more if there were different mini-games to play. I would have died to play a twisted version of Robot Unicorn Attack featuring the horse prince or even a version of Flappy Bird, but it was the same song out of a different album every time. If you’re morbidly curious, My Horse Prince is pretty harmless, but over all the audience for this game is pretty small and I can’t say I would play it again.
Now excuse me. I need to re-think life choices.
The Bottom Line
This game knows its a joke. It doesn't take itself seriously and neither should you. It's not something that bullies you into making micro-purchases (minus turning off ads...) and it's not something that sucks the life out of your battery. My Horse Prince is not for everyone, but appeals to folks with an obscure sense of humor or deep self loathing. There are certainly worse things to kill time with...I think.