By Tom McHenry.
Playable at: http://noncanon.com/HorseMaster.html
As the game itself states: you have trained your whole life for this moment: you will be a Horse Master. And so your journey starts, through buying a horse and training it and, yes, even naming it.
The game starts out light-hearted, but things quickly turn dark. The PC’s commentary swings between mad hope and sheer depression. At one point, I was unsure whether I should actually hope for the best for the PC, or whether it would all come to nought.
It’s an emotionally taxing and compelling game. (SPOILERS BELOW)
It conveys the desperate, wild hope of once unattainable success, which was enhanced by not letting the PC know the horse’s stats. There are painful descriptions and details- a loose tooth; having to scavenge food- and below it all, a haunting lesson on success. What price would you pay? What would you sacrifice?
The power of this game is in that despite everything seeming to lead up to the Horse Master Championships- even though, in a simple world, that would be the ultimate reward for the PC’s sacrifice and pain so far- the eventual outcome of the Championships is not the final reward. The PC’s response to what would seem to be a ‘successful’ ending gives cause for thought: at what price success? What are our dreams, and will we really be happy achieving them?
An excellent, dark, brooding game.