Otome is a bit of an oddball genre, encompassing romance games that feature the concept of a reverse harem. Generally in Otome, a female protagonist is charmed by multiple men, who fulfill the roles of romantic archetypes. While the heavy-handed tropes of the genre might be daunting to first-time-players, parody titles such as Hatoful Boyfriend have proven that Otome’s melodrama can be accessible to newcomers if a little humor is introduced. Now, five years after Hatoful Boyfriend first landed on PC, My Horse Prince by Usaya has arrived on iOS, fusing the romance of Otome with basic clicker mechanics to create a whole new world of romantic confusion.
However, in My Horse Prince, there is only one lover up for grabs. Are you ready to fall in love?
Yuuma the horse is one of the most hilarious and bewildering characters I’ve ever encountered in a video game, romancing the player with sweet talk and increasingly erratic acts of love, all while strutting about in his equine form. The female protagonist of My Horse Prince forges a bond of love with Yuuma throughout the course of the game, but almost as if to mimic the player’s experience, she spends her time in a confounded dream-state, confused and frustrated by her inability to separate delusion from reality. All the while, it’s unclear as to whether or not their love is meant to be, or if it’s simply a horrifying mistake.
The game’s art style is typical for an Otome game, with the main characters drawn in manga-style, and tertiary characters scrawled as hasty doodles. The animation is chuckle-worthy and smooth, and cutscenes are particularly well-drawn. Unfortunately, My Horse Prince’s gameplay is painfully simple, amounting to an exercise in repetition and patience. After speaking kind words to Yuuma to build up his stamina, the player then clicks on items to build up the love meter at the top of the screen. To recharge the dialogue option, an ad must be watched, after which the process can be repeated. Once the love meter is full, a cutscene plays, and the next chapter begins. However, the heart of My Horse Prince isn’t found in its gameplay, but instead in the bizarre story, detailed cutscenes and hilariously self-aware writing. Every moment of grinding was worth it, just to find out what sort of hijinks Yuuma might get up to next, and what sort of insane plot points might ensue.
Cringe-inducing, hilarious, and utterly unique, My Horse Prince is a must-play, especially as it’s free to download. Though its core gameplay is weak, the screwball storyline and zany animations tie the whole experience together into the most delightfully confusing game I’ve played all year.