Don’t let the silly punny name fool you, Them’s Fightin’ Herds is a real blast.
Out now on consoles, this horse brawler is part fighter and part 2D RPG adventure? Yeah, it’s a real hybrid.
And it surprisingly works well as the game’s story unfolds, traversing through towns, mountains and museums on a quest to find the Prophet’s Key. An item that horsey protagonist, Arizona, is continually told is a legend and myth.
Undeterred, though, Arizona pushes onward with blessing from mam and dad horse and trots through a pixel art overworld that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Pokémon game. You’ll talk to other horsies along the way, seeking shelter and fulfilling deeds. But you’ll also need to pull off treacherous jumps and sometimes get into fights.
Instead of turn-based battles, now you’ve got random dungeon fuelled encounters with the likes of wolves and bears in multi-round one on one battles. These are quick fire sessions, similar to a Guilty Gear but you’re only a few combos and special moves away from a win.
There’s occasional boss battles to worry about as well. The first, for instance, has you fighting an enlarged anaconda across a series of lanes, one where you’re dodging tail whips and bites, one where you’re fighting adds and poison spit, and the third where you finally get your battle.
The game’s flow is really smart and it offers a unique, refreshing take on both genres, especially since you’re pitting a roster of fighting ponies against one another.
That is, sadly, one problem with the game. The roster is slight with only seven characters, though they are all extremely varied with cool movesets and special attacks.
Seeing Lauren Faust’s incredible art fully animated and in action is something to behold. This is a seamless, fluid fighter that dazzles with every strike and shot.
It’s steady, stable, fast-paced and has an art style to match. And even from a fighting perspective, while it’s not at the level of complexity of a Streetfighter, this is a surprisingly robust and well-mechanically designed experience that will surprise more often than not.
I did have some difficulty with blocking and pulling off some of the dashes and mini jumps with the double flicks of the analog or D-Pad, and this did have a bearing in some battle conditions or mini sections.
But it all comes together very well and the game is rounded out nicely with various modes with local, online and arcade, alongside the compelling campaign.
This one definitely caught me by surprise.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds is one of the best surprise packages I’ve played this year. It’s a tight-fighting package, with an absolutely stunning art style and a decent range of modes. The roster is a bit too slight and there are some controller frustrations and rough difficulty spikes, but this is a smart genre hybrid that may just become your fighting mane.
+ Gorgeous art
+ Entertaining campaign that crosses genres
+ Tight fighting core
– Block and Movement frustrations
– Very slender roster
– Some rough difficulty spikes
Them’s Fightin’ Herds is now available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch
Played on Xbox Series X
Code Kindly Provided by Modus Games