My Horse Prince sees a young girl leave her past-romantic disasters in the city and head out to the opportunistic country side. Hoping to find love she instead finds a horse with a human face. But something isn’t quite right here.
I never had time for horses. But I do have time for people. So when My Horse Prince allowed me to work on improving my relationship with horses by adding a human head to the mix, I was all hands. But by the end of My Horse Prince, you see, I was all hooves.
The game starts with a young girl (who I named hilariously ‘Jack’) leaving home. She has experienced to much heartbreak in her life and so ventures to the countryside in search of new love. Little was she, or anyone for that matter, expecting her to stumble upon Yuuma; the human faced charming talking horse.
As a straight-forward explanation to this ludicrous situation Jack was born in the year of the horse which means only she can see Yuuma’s beautiful human face. The game recognises it’s own silliness and I, like Jack, was also not being fooled by Yumma’s devilish handsomeness. However when I first saw him trot gracefully into view I couldn’t help but notice how soft his hair looked in the wind.
My Horse Prince at it’s core is a dating simulator built around low immersion gameplay mechanics. To complete a chapter the player is filling a meter to 100%. They do this by tapping randomly appearing actions that scatter around the screen. An action scores points and contributes to the overall love meter. It helps that Yumma is a really hard worker. He runs on treadmills, eat carrots, and chops spring onions at home. All the sorts of tasks that I wouldn’t mind having a horse around the house to carry out for me. I wonder if I could fit a horse in my home. Maybe if I knock down the wall into my living room Yumma could fit?
The last meter to monitor is Yumma’s energy. If it gets too low Yuuma will only extract a few points from his actions. Yumma’s energy can be topped up by either leaving the game for a while allowing his energy to refill, or by having direct conversation with Yumma. These conversations can happen every half hour and wrong answers can actually do damage to Yumma’s energy. I enjoyed talking to Yuuma. I was starting to feel that this human-faced horse was really starting to understand me. As we bonded over whether to go to the cinema or to the park I felt every wrong answer drawing Yuuma further away from me. I panged in my heart each time.
At it’s core the game is pretty simple; it’s essentially a meter-filling game. The usual hallmarks of free to play games are present here. For example the player can watch adverts to skip waiting around if they want. They can also buy special ‘speed-up’ items to decrease the waiting times. But with Yumma involved these cheap mechanics are forgotten and the game dives deep into your soul like a high-diving anvil. Yumma gets within your core. He sets up a nest. And he transcends you to a new plane. A plane where human-faced horses are free to wander with their horse-faced horse contemporaries with out prejudice from prying eyes.
My Horse Prince is split over ten chapters. As the game progresses the gameplay never really changes. Only the setting. But the story does develop further. Yumma pushes forward on Jack. Flirtatious banter becomes deep connections. Electricity fires and before long the passion is practically seeping out of my mobile devices headphone jack.
When I finally completed the game I found myself as wanderer, alone, unable to comprehend what I had experience. I headed to the shore line and stared out to sea. In the cool salty air I could hear Yumma’s voice whispering to me. The splashing tide began to sound like a horse galloping. As the sun descended on both me and the earth I had to stop and think; did I complete My Horse Prince, or did My Horse Prince complete me.