Horse Club Adventures 2: Hazelwood Stories, published by Wild River Games, is a single-player casual adventure sim and the second in the Horse Club Adventure series.
Available across all consoles as well as PC, I had a play through of the game on my Nintendo Switch Lite.
Prepare to meet the neigh-bours!
If you are looking for a casual, easy-going game to play, then this may just be it. Saddle up and come and see what I made of Horse Club Adventures 2: Hazelwood Stories!
Set in autumn, in a village called Lakeside, the aim of the game is to meet up with friends, go riding and take part in quests!
At the very beginning, you get to create your own character, customising not only yourself but also your horse. You can change the colour and markings as well as choose a mane/tail type. Your horse is your best friend and you must remember to look after it! You can bond with your horse by feeding it apples which aids stamina and allows you to gallop for longer.
Once you are ready to learn more about Lakeside, you begin to take on various quests and challenges from the characters that you meet along your exploration. Moving around is mainly on horseback and uses the analogue sticks as well as the buttons to interact with the horse as well as the world.
There are main daily quests, as well as a whole host of side quests to keep you busy. Each day you are set a number of quests that you must complete in order to progress onto the next day. There is no clock, therefore you can meander around as you see fit. Examples of main quests range from simple ones such as investigating the world, to learning dressage techniques and taking your horse jumping in an arena. By completing quests you are rewarded by unlocking items of clothing and other customisations for both yourself and your horse. The storyline is tied to the quests and challenge by challenge you learn new riding techniques as well as interact with new villagers. For example, the photo series contest that runs in a newspaper begins on day one and finishes on day ten when the results are announced. Can you win?
The map is fairly large and you can scroll it around on the main screen. You can drop waypoints so that they appear on your compass to ensure that you are riding in the correct direction to your next event/quest/challenge. I always find this helpful in a game such as this.
When talking to villagers you can at times choose what you would like to say back. Your response can influence the gameplay in that you may not want to take part in something right at that moment and come back to it later on.
Mini quests crop up all over the map with some taking longer than others to achieve. The longest one we found was to find all 50 of the golden horseshoes across the extensive map. Another example is to help a gent find buried treasure while there is also some balloon-popping fun to be had as well! One annoying feature was that should you miss something along a race, such as a checkpoint or fail a jump, you cannot restart the game stage there and then. There is no way to call up a menu and back out. Instead, you have to continue, knowing that you will not achieve the full complement of medals and then do it all over again.
When you get to day 10, the conclusion to the main story, you are then asked to deliver items and messages to the villagers across the map. By doing this you are then reminded about any open side quests that are outstanding. This was a great way to get the player to interact around the map and see what there is still left to do.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics are clear and bright. The ground animation shows where the horse has been, such as prints on dirt, although oddly the horse hooves show on tarmac as well! Although it never rains, as you go higher up the mountain it starts to snow. The autumn season is very colourful with lots of flowers and green trees as far as the eye can see. The horse movements are smooth although your horse will shudder on the screen if you get too close to an AI due to a clash between the objects.
The narrative is fully voiced, minus the name you have called yourself, however, this is fairly normal for these types of games. The music is happy and uplifting as well as calming. It does change throughout the game, giving it that country feeling on occasion. It can become repetitive, similar to The Sims, but thankfully you can turn the music down.
Horse Club Adventures 2: Hazelwood Stories is set across 10 days of main quests which can take around 6 hours to complete. After that it is a case of mopping up the side quests and then that is the game done and dusted.
In my opinion, Horse Club Adventures 2: Hazelwood Stories is perfect for children age 6 and up as it is not fast paced. It does require some patience however everything you do is quite childly simple. The game can be slightly glitchy, as mentioned earlier but another example I came across was that when asked to ride together should you get ahead of the other riders and turn in the direction that you are supposed to, they will not follow. Instead, you need to go to the back of the pack as you must be led by them.
Horse Club Adventure 2: Hazelwood Stories is a fairly short game and there is not a lot to do once it is complete. I therefore award it a Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.