Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Review: Star Stable

A new craze is sweeping the nation, especially amongst tween girls - and their mums!  Star Stable is a brilliant, and incredibly real-feeling, virtual horse game in which you can explore the beautiful island of Jorvik on the back of your very own horse.  Combining every girl's favourite, horse-riding, and a healthy dose of adventure, players all over the world are enjoying exploring this incredible 3D world on horseback.

In fact, some commentators suggest that a large proportion of players are older girls and women looking for a fun recreational game, and the elements of adventure, horse-riding, and exploration, appeal to a wide cross-section of the female population.  The game evolved from single player games about a girl and a horse, so all of the rider characters in Star Stable are female.  To be honest, it's quite a relief to see fully-clothed female characters in a virtual game!

Each player has to take care of their own horse, whilst also participating in competitions and races, and embarking on epic quests.  The gist of the game's story is that the stables are going to be torn down by greedy corporate business, and the player's job is to stop the corporation.  In order to do this she gains experience through a series of quests which help to unlock new chapters as the story progresses.  Star Stable is a world that never stops growing and offers the first true multi-player online experience for players that love horses, mysteries, adventure and making new friends.  The game is free to register, in-game chat is moderated, and no third party content is advertised, so parents should have no security concerns with the game.

The game has a very pretty style and it certainly appeals to the target audience.  Lara played the lower levels with me for a while and loved it.  What would you expect from a My Little Pony-mad five year old?!  It was easy to play and the design of the horses is outstanding, they are very realistic and move beautifully.  Lara loved the horse names too, with a list of prefixes and suffixes which combine to make such fabulous monikers as Cinnamoncloud, Thunderborn, Springrain, and Lara's choice, Midnightflower.  This could become seriously addictive!

Don't worry if your child becomes engrossed in the game though, as they'll also be learning from a number of educational elements, such as problem solving in the challenges; caring for their horse; managing their own virtual currency of 'Star Coins', and lots of great literacy.  The Star Stable story is now 248,000 words long and gets bigger every week, encouraging lots of authentic practice in reading for purpose, and engagement with fiction.  Participants will also be able to practice their social skills by chatting with friends, and taking part in player-created riding clubs.

We loved the pretty style of the game, the ease of use (perfect for a pair of non-gamers!), and how fun it is.  The quests are perfect for Lara's age group or older and are very easy to follow.  We didn't get very far into this virtual world, and as new content is added each week I think it would take a very long time to exhaust the game.  The first few layers are free to use, but for a small fee players can unlock the upper levels and receive Star Rider membership.  This will also provide a weekly Star Coin allowance, delivered every Saturday morning, which can be used to buy horse food, decorations, clothing, etc.

This game is really fun, and I can definitely see how it would appeal as a relaxing hobby for a range of age groups.  Give it a try today.

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