Snow Horse is a joke. Everything about the game from its core concept of a snowboarding horse through to the ridiculously bad gameplay mechanics are designed to make you laugh, cringe and yell in frustration.
Snow Horse’s absurd concept is a brilliant marketing technique by developer Kinifi Games. I have seen coverage from almost all major gaming outlets. Most articles seem to have praised only the concept, which was surely enough for some. It certainly drew my attention. Snow Horse falls into this relatively new category of indie games that are purposefully bad but also appealing through their absurdity. Goat Simulator is one that comes to mind, but it managed to keep me interested for hours through its large environments and vast number of challenges. The problem with Snow Horse is the gimmick wears off real quick.
You’re a snowboarding horse that flips and grinds its way down slopes, aiming for high scores. You don’t need to worry about navigating, Snow Horse is on rails. This is a good thing, at least for the iOS version, as managing direction and tricks at the same time would have been awful on the touchscreen. A thumb stick on the left side of the screen controls flip tricks. Hold it down in any direction to spin that way, and then struggle to return to the upright position before landing. The controls are touchy. I often avoided flip tricks altogether because it’s too hard to land them. A direction pad on the right side of the screen controls the board/horse tricks. Pressing left or right will do a horse kick, down a tail wag and so forth. From my experience, it’s not possible to fail these.
The only goal of Snow Horse is the high scores. A career mode is teased in the trailer, although it’s not included in the iOS version. More slopes are promised as DLC so maybe the career mode will follow. There are currently three slopes, two are downhill courses lined with ramps and rails, while the third is a giant slalom. There’s not much variety between the slopes and it’s odd that the giant slalom is the only one of three levels that features a score multiplier. Snow Horse can be frustrating because each time you crash, the game resets and spawns you back at the beginning to start all over again.
There are tonnes of customisation options available. I count eleven hats, nine board graphics and nine tail colours to choose from. One real stand-out feature of the game is the soundtrack. It’s quality electronic music that I enjoyed and it surprised the hell out of me when you compare it to the quality of the gameplay.
I have only sampled the iOS version of Snow Horse. It would be interesting to play it on PC and see if a controller changes the experience. Snow Horse is hard to recommend. Kinifi Games state “this game isn’t to be taken seriously. That it exists is a joke itself.” I’m completely fine with that. The problem is it’s not a very funny joke. You will have a laugh or two, and for that brief moment, Snow Horse Shreds!
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane