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Horse Master

by Tom McHenry profile

Surreal
2013

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Number of Reviews: 8
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Hunger Games meets Black Beauty on crystal meth, July 12, 2013
by Anya Johanna DeNiro (Minnesota)
I haven't written any reviews on IFDB but I feel compelled to with Horse Master: heartwrenching, sharply written and even though I'm not sure it is truly strategically rigorous, it FEELS that way (in that interestingly I was feeling shades of Cryptozookeeper). But the decisions you make for caring for your horse are seamlessly integrated into a setting that is scary and absurd. It's a world where (Spoiler - click to show)sacrificing your horse at the end is expected as the way to win, a decision which shocked me and yet felt utterly natural with the narration. In this sense the narration felt "unreliable"--surely there would have been an emotional bond? But, no. We see in a rush just how much the character has integrated the cruel violence of his world. Like any good science fiction, Horse Master takes common terms (like "horse") and reorients our perspectives on them.

In a way, this could be seen as a dark, postmodern take on the "pony book genre": books of a young person growing close with a special horse. "A perfect friendship with an idealized companion." But in Horse Master, through the interaction (and the implementation with Twine was incredibly solid), the player herself or himself rips away this sentimentality. Clicking through, the player is exposed to the desperation of the world of the Horse Master, deeper and deeper, until...well, you have to find out for yourself. Highly, highly recommended.