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Year Walk Review: A Pilgrimage into Fear

Fear is a Blanket, Keep Warm

Year Walk is the puzzler/story-board title from Swedish developer, Simogo. Set in rural Sweden, you play as the protagonist who has elected to commence a spiritual rite called the “Year Walk” which yields opportunity for extreme danger and ultimate enlightenment. During the custom, a “year walker” is left in complete isolation to navigate the elements and confront the supernatural world in order to gain this crucial knowledge. Where some games tend to be completely linear, YW holds strong to its atmospheric nature and lends itself to foreshadowing and literary inference to push the boundaries of what mobile games can accomplish.


Let’s Play in the Snow

Simogo takes a very modest mechanic of swipe movement (up, down, left, right) and makes it elegant through purposeful interactions with the environment. Moving through the construct of Year Walk has the player learning the map’s chutes and boundaries. However, the elegance comes to the forefront in making boundaries only “screen deep” and challenging your willingness to push the perceived limits of the touch mechanics. If I told you anymore it would simply spoil the plot, and frankly, the fun of discovery.

The game is fueled by the journey into the shadowy woods. Puzzles, in visual and audio forms, create exhausting yet fulfilling conquest that reveal more about the mysteries awaiting the “year walker”. Strange sirens, inverted centaurs, and other apparitions have specific needs to be fulfilled through unique riddles and brainteasers that encourage you writing down notes. There are few games, mobile or console, that make you use real world mediums to remember puzzle solutions without instructing you to do so (brilliant).


It is All Around

As previously stated Year Walk is completely atmospheric and haunting. The audio depiction of footsteps and ambient effects/music makes every attempt at completing the game as eerie and chilling as the first. Each slushy movement in the winter snow, the hollow winds blowing, and the voices that may or may not be heard, keep you looking over your shoulder to confirm no one is watching you from “the great beyond”. Playing YW alone in the dark is definitely for the brave. My experience with the game audio was with headphones and I would suggest anyone who plays the title use them (or not) in order to have that fully immersive experience. 

Visually, there are few apps that I have enjoyed more. The art style feels as obscure as the source material. It brings you into a foreign land safely and leaves to wander without a sense of familiarity which ultimately gives the void its life. Each apparition is quirky and scary which creates the sense of dread and eminent trouble that may be present or just another figment of the player’s imagination. All of the animation seems to be done with precision and purpose.

Every Walker Needs a Companion

A completely secondary, and optional app, is the Year Walk Companion. Within the notes are detailed, if not warnings, of what you will encounter: The Huldra, The Brook Horse, The Myling, The Night Raven, and The Church Grim. Each section describes the aforementioned specters, their motivations and curses, and why each will lead you to your grave or to your redemption. If you were to start the main title without any of the preliminary info divulged in the Companion, you can complete the quest and leave satisfied; but with many more questions. Conversely, reading the Companion completely will leave you with fewer questions but much more applause to the developer and more importantly, gratification with your time spent.



Again, I WILL NOT SPOIL THIS GAME. This is a difficult review because the details are essentially where the fun happens. Replay value is low but because games are more about enjoying the experience presented and the satisfaction you're left with once it is over, I judged YW accordingly. Go play, enjoy, and let me know on twitter what you thought of the game and if you used the Companion or not.



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