Monday, May 28, 2012

Horse Haven: For Every Little Kid Who Never Got A Horse

When I was a little girl, every shooting star and birthday candle and wishlist to Santa contained the same request: a horse. Despite living in town, I still wanted a horse of my very own to ride and brush and love. It's probably no surprise that I never got that horse, and it's probably a good thing I didn't. I don't have the money or time for a horse, and while I still enjoy riding, I'd rather visit a public stables and pay for a ride rather than be responsible for my own horse.

Recently, I was introduced to the Facebook game Horse Haven, where you can keep and care for your own virtual horses. Horse Haven is a game where you are the sole inheritor of your uncle's run-down ranch. You start with a single foal and a lot of weeds and broken buildings, and quickly begin turning the mess into a successful ranch by feeding and caring for your horse, growing treats for your horse, and training your horse to enter competitions.

You can also buy more horses and develop a full working ranch, complete with breeding stables to produce more foals, training pens, and a stable full of horses of all colors and types. Once your horses are trained, they can visit other towns to compete for trophies and awards.

As you level up and get more awards, you can visit new places.

One unique feature of this game is that by playing with your digital horses you can help Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue, a real-life non-profit horse rescue center in Pennsylvania. Certain items you can buy for your farm provide direct donations to the charity, ensuring that you're giving back while indulging in your imaginary ranch.

So what do I think of it? Horse Haven is a fun resource management game. You have to balance training your horses with building up your farm and clearing away debris. There is a limited amount of energy to do each task, and you can quickly run out of energy, leaving you to either buy more energy or wait until you can build up more energy again.

This is my ranch and two horses. It's a work in progress. 

Raising and caring for the horses is a lot of fun. My daughters saw me playing and suddenly it was a group game - they like helping me pick out what to add next to the ranch and never fail to tell me when I have energy again to attend to my horses. If you have friends who play the game as well, you can visit their ranches and help them out with chores to gain rewards for yourself. You can also send game gifts to your friends and put out requests for items you need.

The downsides to the game are that it can take a long time to get up enough energy and horse bucks to get very far in the game. If you're willing to spend real money, you can get there faster, but without spending real money you have to be dedicated to advance quickly. Also, you get a lot further in the game if you have friends playing as well. There is a computer generated character who serves as your friend if you don't have any Facebook friends playing with you, but real friends are almost needed to get you all of the items you need.

The game's theme is cute and perfect for anyone who ever wanted a horse as a kid. The graphics are bright and kid-friendly and the mini-quests are interesting and help in building your ranch. I also like that some in-game purchases will also result in donations to the Angel Acres horse rescue center.

So if you like Facebook games and still remember closing your eyes tight and wishing for a horse on the first star every evening, give Horse Haven a try. Even if you can't have your own horse, these horses won't complain if you ignore them for a day and you're still helping other horses through the game.

Full disclosure: Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own. #UbiChamps

No comments: