This morning I sat at my desk, hoping for a normal day. A day free of paranoid fan theories about character death, delving into the twisted canon of Mortal Kombat or being forced to play horrible sex games on my phone. As I dreamed a futile dream of writing normal articles about #VideoGames, my silent reverie was broken by my editor placing a single sheet of paper on my desk.
That was all it said. I tried to ask for more information, but he simply shook his head silently and jabbed at the paper, refusing to explain further. With a heavy sigh, I picked up the piece of paper, noted the unusual choice of Papyrus font and got to work.
'My Riding Stables: Life With Horses', A Brutal Classic Of Italian Neo-Realism
Like The Bicycle Thief before it, My Riding Stables: Life With Horses is a commentary on the short and brutish lives of the working class in post-war capitalism. Although in this case, the working class means horses and #Horse trainers.
You begin as a hopeful young horse breeder. With a head full of dreams, inspired by the promise of social mobility and a heart full of determination to make a new, horse-based living for you and your family, the future seems bright. These dreams will be short-lived my friend.
The crushing reality of foal-rearing will almost certainly leave you destitute. Without money, you're unable to do anything for your young horses except brush their hair and watch them slowly starve to death as they suffer from the myriad of diseases they've contracted due to a lack of medical care.
Should you make it past this stage, you are given the brief glimpse of a carrot: the opportunity to open your own horse massage parlor. Fantasies of digging your strong, skilled fingers into the taut muscles of a powerful colt may flit through your mind, but don't let yourself be seduced. These horse owners care less for their horses than they do for you, and demand you complete your task in less than 60 seconds. How could any horse, let alone any man, cope with the stress of this life with so little time to relax?
As the horse is dragged, struggling and whinnying, back to the race tracks to run again and again until it is little more than fodder for the glue factory, you look down at your hands. You have worked for so many years to develop your skills in horse massage, and for what? For a lie my friend, for a lie.
My Riding Stables: Life With Horses gets 4 horseshoes out of 5. It perfectly encapsulates the misery of horse-based late-capitalist economy, but loses one point because I can't braid my pony's mane.
A Slave To The Inhuman Whims Of 'A Virtual Horse'
Penniless and miserable, you wander into the woods of cyberspace, searching for a suitable strong branch to which you could tie a noose. Just as you finish googling how to tie a hangman's not, you hear the transcendentally beautiful sound of hoofbeats approaching.
A horse breaks through the clearing, but not just any horse. It flickers with a strange, eerie light. Occasionally a one or a zero floats by, like a numerical ghost. It is no mortal horse, it is A Virtual Horse.
The horse leads you to his lair, where you are greeted by his horrible goblin of a servant, known as 'the game helper'. This awful creature of flannel and denim guides you through the process of horse creation, where you can remake this digital equine to your mad whims, as long as you enter a terrible bargain known as the EULA.
Out of approximately 8,000 or so different breeds to choose from, you choose the Canadian Cutting Horse, on the grounds that your horse needs skill with a sword to survive the harsh world. Classic Champagne seems like a perfect choice of color. It'll match what you'll be drinking once the two of you trample the bourgeoisie beneath his bladed hooves. The horse has already chosen his name—he is BLOOD FOUNTAIN, after his favorite thing to see, and he redubs you DESTROYER.
Soon, the terrible goblin servant is teaching you the tricks of the trade. Though you already knew full-well how to care for a horse, you dare not contradict him, lest he curse you with his goblin magics or make you touch his weird mustache. The first act is to sate BLOOD FOUNTAIN's ravenous hunger.
Things seem off to a good start. BLOOD FOUNTAIN is fed and watered, and you allow yourself to imagine the two of you wreaking bloody revenge against the uncaring horse owners who'd driven you into poverty. But you soon learn the error of my ways.
Your third task is to fill BLOOD FOUNTAIN's happiness bar. Each time he is brushed or petted, he recovers 1% of his happiness bar—each brushing or petting takes approximately 30 seconds. Every few minutes, BLOOD FOUNTAIN loses a chunk of happiness. You are trapped in a Sisyphean task. BLOOD FOUNTAIN will never be happy, and neither will you. This EULA has been signed in blood, you are damned forever.
I give A Virtual Horse 10 horseshoes out of 5, he won't allow me to award him any less.
The Curse Of 'Pony World 3'
I cannot tell you how you escaped the clutches of A Virtual Horse. It is a tale too terrible for the average mind to comprehend. Months after entering your indentured servitude, you stumble home to your hovel, bloodied and weary, only to find another terrible twist of fate has befallen you.
Sitting on the table is a VHS. It is unlabeled, except for a strip of masking tape. Scrawled on it in a dark red substance, possibly blood, are the words Pony World 3.
Your hands shaking in fear, you push the VHS into the slot of your #Steam account/VCR player. Terrible images flash across the screen: Twisted, off-brand uncanny copies of My Little Pony characters, hundred dollar slices of pizza, weirdly implied horse sex. As the awful show rolls to a close, you see a Steam message pop-up.
You have fallen prey to the curse of Pony World 3. The only way to escape your friends and family finding your horribly twisted corpse is to play through this nightmare of a game and pass the curse on. Pray it isn't someone you love.
I will let this negative review replace my normal horseshoe based scoring system, since it seems appropriate.