CliffHorse Analysis Part 1: Cliffs


Welcome to my Clifhorse analysis series. Throughout February, once a week I will be posting analysis to a specific piece of the game Cliffhorse. This week I will be talking about cliffs featured in Cliffhorse. What do they mean? Why are they here? These are the types of questions I will be asking today.

What does it mean to have content in a video game? Most people will claim that content is what a player can interact with. Cliffhorse features both a ball and the ground along with cliffs to interact with. But I believe there is more to content than just interaction. As I have talked about before, games can exist as more than just a piece of entertainment, there are many games out there that represent bigger things and are greater than the sum of their parts. The cliffs in Cliffhorse are just like this. It should not come as a surprise that the entirety of the game Cliffhorse is a metaphor for existentialism. Each of its pieces represents a different piece of existence that humanity is looking for. The horse represent man and its individualism, the ball represents the rest of society, and the landscape and the cliffs represent the world in which we live in.


Humanity has consistently found hurdles to overcome in their lives. These bumps in the landscape are exactly what the cliffs in this game represent. The horse the player controls is completely free to explore the landscape at any pace or in any direction he or she chooses. This is completely similar to human society. An individual can choose to explore the world or pursue nearly any career he or she chooses. However, humanity will often choose a path that is most exciting to them and will likely involve large hurdles. Upon showing Cliffhorse to many of my friends and peers, I have seen many different ways of playing this game but all do nearly the same thing. They will consistently challenge the physics of the game world, climbing up hills and searching for the highest vantage point. Cliffhorse does not force any of its players to do these things yet just like life people always seek adventure and won’t stop until they reach the highest level they can perceive.

Similarly, many players will experiment finding how they can increase their speed by running down steep cliffs. This represents bad choices in life. Although seemingly fun tiny choices like this can destroy all of one’s hard work. Simply gliding down one cliff, an action that takes seconds, can instantaneously destroy minutes of hard work. This parallels with dishonest and unsafe choices in real life. The landscape in Cliffhorse is very intentional in its dangerous but also in its subtleties.

Like life, the landscape of Cliffhorse is inconsistent. It is steep and chaotic at points but also calm and flat in other places. The world crafting in this game is very intentional and each piece can be interpreted in a different way. Each part of the landscape in this game means something and that is perhaps why Cliffhorse is such a good game.

Thank you very much for reading.

By: James Murphy




Comments are closed.