NaturalMotion, best known for its Euphoria engine (GTAIV, Red Dead Redemption) and its own titles like football game Backbreaker, has recently released something a little tamer.
It's called My Horse. In which you look after a horse. Think of it as Nintendogs, only with... well, horses. Oh, and microtransactions.
The first thing you notice is that, as you'd expect from these guys (it's developed by MunkyFun but uses NaturalMotion's tech), it looks gorgeous. It's easily one of the best-looking games on the iPhone. The textures on the retina display look crystal clear, and the animation -- building upon NaturalMotion's experience with lifelike representation -- could well be the best you've ever seen. For a horse. In a video game.
Once you've stroked a few noses and mixed a few buckets of feed together, though, you see this game for what it really is: grinding for pony lovers.
Everything you do in this game is grinding. Want to compete? No, you need to feed your horse first. You'll need to shovel out their stables and practice, too. Only the practice isn't gameplay, it's just an icon with a cooldown timer. The only times you actually play this game are when you're competing, and even that is restricted to tapping a meter at the right time to make a horse perform a trick.
The rest of your time is spent waiting, tapping your horse, clicking on icons and waiting some more. Unless you want to pay real money for faster feeding sessions and better gear, of course, but for the purposes of this playthrough (and my own sanity) I chose not to pay a cent, as the game is free to download.
If you love horses and the endless grind of pet management games like this, you'll probably dig it. Which says as much about you as it does this game. For everyone else, well... it looks pretty. If you're tired of showing off your iPhone 4's retina display with Epic Citadel (or want to show off to a 14-year-old girl), then the game's pretty graphics are about all that's left to recommend.
My Horse [Apple App Store]