I’m fascinated by this open-world delivery game that sounds like Death Stranding on a horse in 13th-century Mongolia, with “unparalleled equine realism”

By admin May9,2024

Despite being hugely allergic to horses – my eyes once swelled up so severely at a local fair my wife had to guide me home – I continue to be absolutely spellbound by the animals. I’ve been rewatching The Lord of the Rings this week and I’ve been genuinely gripped by watching professionally trained horses galloping across the vistas of New Zealand, rearing up against tennis balls representing CGI orcs and charging down the incredibly steep slope next to Helm’s Deep. Not to mention my love of just riding endlessly in a direction on horseback in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (helped by Kassandra’s wonderful command of “Phobos!” to summon her mount).

My current horse fascination made for fortuitous timing when I came upon Windstorm: The Legend of Khiimori, an upcoming game headed into early access this September which I can only surmise as being a Death Stranding-like game about delivering things across vast, unforgiving terrain – except you’re on a horse rather than strapped to a baby.

Apparently The Legend of Khiimori is the latest in long-running series of Windstorm games about befriending horses, normally subtitled with names like “Start of a Great Friendship” and “An Unexpected Arrival”, which Steam tells me is based on a movie adaptation of a series of apparently best-selling books by the same name.

Whereas the previous games appear to have been set in relatively modern times, The Legend of Khiimori takes things back to 13th century Mongolia, where your horse rider character is a courier tasked with transporting things across an open-world wilderness.

The player character looks at buildings in their camp in Windstorm: The Legend of Khiimori
Image credit: Aesir Interactive

To do so, you’ll need to gather a stable of horses by breeding or taming wild horses, before caring for and training them to help you cross a series of biomes ranging from snowy mountains and wide open plans to sizzling deserts during what series developers Aesir Interactive consider “difficult” missions. Those missions will require you to plot out the best route before actually embarking on the ride, using your horses’ traits and attributes – strengthened by looking after them, of course – to canter your way across the terrain. Khiimori itself refers to a mythical wind horse deity, which sits at the centre of a mystery that drives the game’s story.

Between those missions you’ll have the chance to build up nomad camps by constructing yurts at which you can then rest and craft items, with the ability to pack up and move your camp to help you on your travels. That survival and hub-building element is new for the series as a whole. You’ll also be able to gain rep among Mongolia’s other inhabitants by completing various activities, from delivery to herding animals, unlocking extra aid for your journey.

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As you can tell, the focus here is really on the – ahem – horseplay, with an apparently simulationist feel to the riding and environmental hazards. The most tantalising bit of announcement hype-talking is that Aesir claims that the horse behaviour and animation is aiming for “unparalleled realism”, with the virtual mounts developed with the input and approval of equine experts if you’re a horse person after some reassurance they will indeed feel like horses. They’ll look a good bit like horses too, thanks to some shiny Unreal Engine 5 visuals for horse and landscape alike.

Windstorm: The Legend of Khiimori will hit Steam early access this September, with Aesir saying to expect a “very early stage” of development at first, before the team work on implementing additions and improvements based both on community feedback and a forthcoming roadmap. I’m pretty intrigued to at least check it out myself, being both a lover of riding aimlessly around on virtual horseback and having fallen deep into Death Stranding’s Zen-like literal walking simulator.

By admin

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