Are the Console Ports Worth Playing?

Born out of the ashes of a My Little Pony fan game that was hit with a cease and desist by Hasbro, Them’s Fightin’ Herds is a colorful fighting game that features various four-legged competitors that are looking to save their world from the dark specter of violent predators. The new console release is the latest milestone in what has been a long road for the game as it had many forms since 2012, bouncing between crowdfunding platforms and early access to reach the finish line. While the dedication of the developer was incredible enough to get Friendship is Magic Creative Director Lauren Faust involved to design its characters, the game’s solid fundamentals butt up against how incomplete it all still feels even after exiting early access on Steam over two years ago.

Them's Fightin' Herds Review: Lauren Faust Designs Bolster Hooved Fighter

Its roster, which only features seven characters, is one of the cleared examples of its unfinished state, but it’s not all bad since each offers plenty of depth and is a joy to learn. Mane6 has created quite possibly the most in-depth and helpful tutorials in the genre as it is catered toward the ins and outs of each character. From their special attacks to their unique battle systems (which range from a pony using actual magic to a lamb that can summon dogs to protect her), every aspect of combat is covered and these fighting mechanics are where the game shines.

Nearly every fighter is relatively tricky to master, but their nuances make them intriguing challenges to tackle. Seeing a character seem totally incomprehensible the first time you pick them to actually knowing how to use all their special abilities and deploy a strategy mid-fight is rewarding and thrilling for those who put in the time. Due to the complicated combatants, it winds up being quite the strategic fighter as matches often come down to who can enforce their game plan more effectively instead of solely being about having the fastest reactions and counterattacks. Although, the strategies are ultimately limited because of its small roster.

Them's Fightin' Herds Review: Lauren Faust Designs Bolster Hooved Fighter

While there are not a ton of offline modes — just arcade, versus, and practice — there is a surprisingly unique story mode that could’ve been a real draw and expanded its audience. Rather than being the standard fighting game story that either features visual novel chapters or cutscenes between one-on-one fights, it is a full-on top-down adventure. A lot of sections are similar to classic role-playing games as you’ll explore towns, talk to people, and accept quests. However, when you get into a battle with the shadowy predators that threaten the land, it then turns into a fighting game.

These beast fights are a blast as they’re very different from the battles against the other ungulates. There are flying hawks, lunging cobras, dangerous wolves, agile pumas, and giant bears that all require different strategies and you can face off against groups of enemies rather than just one opponent. These engaging and unique battles are extrapolated further in platforming sections, where you’ll take on foes while also navigating the environment. There are also boss fights that are a real thrill to figure out as they feature powerful predators (such as a giant cobra that rains down venom at the player) and unique battles against the other playable characters that use special skills.

Them's Fightin' Herds Review: Lauren Faust Designs Bolster Hooved Fighter

It’s all as great as it sounds. The mode is such a novelty within the fighting genre and a real bright spot in the overall package. It’s also got collectibles, hidden rooms, block puzzles, and a lot of optional dialogue that fleshes out the world, all of which make it an even more unique and compelling campaign.

This all continues through the first chapter until it comes to an abrupt end after two and a half hours when the protagonist, a calf named Arizona, loses a scripted battle. It then teases another chapter featuring a new character and perspective. However, the remaining chapters aren’t in the game yet. The rest are still in development and it’s hard to recommend at this point when there’s no satisfying end or guarantee that its massive potential will be fulfilled.

Them’s Fightin’ Herds has a fantastic foundation, but that foundation is unfinished. Launching with a scant seven characters would be easier to swallow if the promising story mode had more than one completed chapter. Those that don’t mind waiting for the campaign to wrap up — and purchasing a season pass to flesh out its roster — will at least have fun until they hit a skill ceiling, do everything they can, or get tired of playing against the same few characters online. The charm on display is undeniable but so is the unfinished quality that plagues the game in its current state.

SCORE: 7.5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our Them’s Fightin’ Herds review. Reviewed on version 1.001.000.

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