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Foal play: a tiny look at Horse World Online

Horse World Online

Fun fact*: horses freak me out. I remember being a kid and a lot of my friends being really into horseriding and pony club stuff and I just didn’t get it. Horses were and are terrifyingly large and really odd-looking to me; a collection of muscle and bone I still struggle to make sense of or feel warmth towards. This Sunday’s episode of Planet Earth where mustangs bit and kicked at one another really did not help. I am, however, faring a bit better with Horse World Online [official site] – a browser game about owning, training and breeding horses.I’m still in the super early stages of the game and the horses I own are not exactly setting the equine world on fire, despite me naming them BEST HORSE and SECOND BEST HORSE. Currently I am waiting for the mare (BEST HORSE) to give birth to a foal (THIRD BEST HORSE) so I’m forcing BEST HORSE and SECOND BEST HORSE to go through rigorous training and competition entry rather than just letting them stand around in the starter paddock munching grass and, in the case of BEST HORSE, gestating THIRD BEST HORSE.

The game plays out across a number of menus, so it’s not like Secret of the Magic Crystals where you have QTEs and animation to contend with, it’s more of a numbers management project with horse framing. You do your tasks, train the horses to level up various attributes, clothe them in horse outfits (bridles and saddles and the like), submit them for competitions, breed them for fun and profit, and level up your own skills in order to own and train more horses.

There’s time-gating when it comes to your turns which is how the game keeps you coming back or encourages you to spend real-world money in order to reduce the time it takes for turns to generate. Without spending money you earn a new turn (i.e. a new day wherein your horse is fed and rested) every 20 minutes so it reminds me of how Fallen London used to work when I played it. Investigating further, if you end up spending a lot of time with the game and doing activities which earn you pony tokens (one of the in-game currencies) then you can actually upgrade your membership, which helps out on the turn regeneration front amongst other things by spending 500 of those a month.

There is a lot going on in Horse World Online so I’m just pottering about with the basics of training and competition entry at the moment and I’ll see where I end up. Right now my starter pasture feels enormous – to the point where BEST HORSE and SECOND BEST HORSE are rarely even within a couple of screens of one another as I pan around the field. I tried to make SECOND BEST HORSE a bit more alluring by putting a pink rug on him but it hasn’t really helped. Perhaps THIRD BEST HORSE will be the band-aid baby they need to fix their relationship.

Oh, and I’m genuinely sad I missed out on the Halloween event because that seemed to involve HORSE GHOST COSTUMES.

Horse World Online

*YMMV

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Philippa Warr

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