Year Walk Review
Originally published for the iOS by Simogo, Year Walk got a release for PC in March. The game is heavily influenced by the old Swedish tradition Årsgång which means year walk. This “tradition” has not been in open practice for a couple of generations at least. It consisted of starvation of the body and mind of natural senses for a full day during certain events. When the clock struck midnight, the person would leave and go to the church encountering many obstacles on the way. Once completed, the person would supposedly see their future.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the game was the art style. It had a very charming yet creepy aesthetic to it. It is very simple, but very telling. It looks almost like everything was cut out of coloured paper and placed onto the scene, and it was very pleasing to the eye. It added to the atmosphere which was itself very unsettling and well thought out.
At its core, Year Walk is a puzzle game and quite a difficult one too. The puzzles themselves are extremely well done. Everything is given to you right from the get-go. You are then left to piece everything together. The puzzles seem quite difficult but are actually quite simple once you figure out what needs to be done, although some can be quite difficult to complete. For example, one puzzle uses sounds but it can be quite difficult to figure out what is being asked through simple notes. There is a hint system, but I never used it and so I cannot comment on its usefulness. It requires you to remember, so I would suggest having a pen and paper on hand to write things down rather than trying to remember them.
The story elements are surprisingly the strongest part of this game because each puzzle tells its own story. Everything in this game is symbolic and it shows that the developers put a lot of time into this game, despite it being originally made for iOS. It gives the game a new layer that not many games have and it makes it feel very special. Some of the places the story goes are extremely dark and quite upsetting. Yet it touches these topics with so much maturity that it really feels genuine. It does have some horror elements in it and made me feel very uncomfortable at times. The characters are so fleshed out and rounded, despite rarely ever seeing any of them. I felt actual guilt while playing this game, genuine guilt.
It left an empty feeling in my gut when it ended and I wanted more, but after some time I feel that the game would have been ruined if it were any longer. It is still quite short. There is a lot of walking to extend the length of the game, which is a dirty trick but it is forgivable because the environments are so engaging. There is also a lot of reading, but it is so worth it to read everything. I did not regret reading a single word in this game.
The simplicity of this game makes it easy to suggest anyone buy this. Even non-gamers will find this something they could get into, especially if you like to read. For $5.99 it makes it even easier to call it a must-have in anybody’s library. If it had not been released on iOS a full year before its PC release, I would not be surprised to see it in the Indie Game of the Year category.