It's been months since I first played Year Walk on iOS and I still think about it regularly. The Steam version of this game is as beautifully made as the original, and the changed puzzles feel at home on the PC. The atmosphere is greatly enhanced in this version of the game, providing a creepier mood than the iOS version - so much so that surprises I knew were coming still got jolts out of me. The story behind this game is so intriguing and mysterious that I wish there was more information about it online; Year Walk is an amazing introduction into Scandinavian folklore that everyone should play.
110 people found this review helpful 5 people found this review funny
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 1, 2014
Year Walk is one of those rare bits of media that lingers in your mind long after you've finished it. It makes you feel like a part of you is missing after you've finished it and, like a junkie, you become desperate for more. Don't let the "ending" fool you. There's more. Find the Journal. Open the box. It's not too late.
Recommended To: Established fans of the genre; Novelty seekers; Puzzle game aficionados; Casual gamers
Year Walk is one of those abstract games that more closely resembles a piece of art than a video game. The gameplay is extremely minimal, while the true soul of the game lies in its ambiance, art direction, and core concept. This is the type of game which won’t appeal to everyone. For those who appreciate the occasional artsy game with minimal gameplay, then you will probably find Year Walk interesting, relaxing, and enjoyable. If you are looking to play a traditional video game, you shouldn’t be looking here.
The gameplay is roughly 3 parts “walking-simulator” and 1 part puzzle game. Navigating the area is your primary “challenge,” with the addition of a few puzzles you will have to solve. The answers to these puzzles can be a bit obscure, but there is a competent hint system if you want to avoid being stuck for too long and just want to enjoy the zen of the game.
The core concept of the game is also quite interesting. Year Walk is based on the Swedish folklore of Årsgång, which I had never heard of before playing this, and which I found to be interesting. After learning a bit about it, I was able to see that the developers did an outstanding job bringing the idea to life in video game form, even despite its inherently simplistic design.
The art direction, soundscape, and overall ambiance of the game make for a mysterious atmosphere which is very well aligned with the core concept. Admittedly, the graphics are quite simple; but the simple graphics fit the simple game.
Short, interesting, and atmospheric: Year Walk makes for a fun little experience that is well-produced and should be easily enjoyed by anyone who truly appreciates the genre.
103 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 1, 2014
Descending through Year Walk is liking having an ice cube put down the back of your shirt, then being pushed into the Artic Ocean. It's chilling and unnerving in a way that messes with your head, transcending its own existence into something that feels tangible; too close for comfort and so well crafted it causes you to second guess your own instincts that this is nothing but fantasy. As I sat staring at "The End" plastered across my screen, I could still feel my quickened pulse as I tried to shake the feeling of being on edge, something no piece of entertainment in any medium has managed in what feels like a very long time.
Year walking is a practice (largely found in Sweden) in which a ritual is performed by the walker through which they are given a glimpse through time at what the future holds. However, it comes at a grave cost, and there is no guarantee the walker will even make it through alive.
Walking through a forest at midnight, snow blanketing the ground around you, you come face to face with the horrors that befall those that dare to year walk: The Watchers, twisted and greedy spirits, who demand their sacrifice for showing you what is to come. The deeper you get, the more vile and disturbing these encounters become, before you finally enter the church and see your fate.
This is when the game first ends, but it also marks the point at which the game truly begins. Up to this point you've been bustled along through this story with little in the way of explanation or reason. It's artistically brilliant and frightening to be sure, but all the same largely disconnected and without any real purpose, meant to alarm but ultimately lacking any substance. It's not then until you begin to walk again and the curtain is pulled away that the pieces fall into place and the true meaning behind your circumstances become clear. Terrifyingly so.
Year Walk is a master at what it tries to be. It lets nothing on and leaves you wandering in the dark for a good while, which only makes it more unnerving when it finally lays its cards on the table. The expert use of Swedish folklore ties its world and ours together as it attempts to break the forth wall as it weaves together fantasy and psychological horror into a brief but immensely compelling narrative. If you've gotten this far you've likely realized I've said a lot of nothing in all these words, and that's entirely intentional, as to say what makes Year Walk so brilliant would be to completely ruin it the experience. No, this is one walk that you have to take for yourself, though I promise you won't regret it.
You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal[kritiqal.com].
Personally I have no clue about swedish folklore or mythology and grabbed the title simply because it looked kind of unique: setting and visuals seemed to be fresh and interesting and I expected a nice little title that I can play on my tablet and relax along the way. (Okay, did I seriously miss the "Horror“ tag on the storepage?)
Oh man was I wrong.
However, I have to say that I regret nothing - the game’s fantastic but for scary people probably not the best thing to play at 1 a.m.. __________________________________________
The story of the game is mysterious, kind of creepy and mature. At the beginning you are greeted with a short introduction and some small dialogue before starting your 'Year Walk' in attempt to unravel the mysteries of the future.
On your journey you will encounter several beings of swedish folklore, creepy places and many puzzles and secrets. The game is a mixture of 2D- and 3D-Textures, you play in first person view, travelling from left to right through different parts of the forest, but at some spots you are able to go up or down to change the location.
The forest consists of different areas and you will need to backtrack a lot (or you make notes along the way) to find the solution to some riddles and gadgets. These puzzles are quite interesting but nothing new or unique in the genre, especially for people that already played lots of adventures.
Luckily there is a map and some hints to make your journey easier from time to time and there’s also some kind of information section that will tell you something about the history behind Year Walking, the folklore and the mysterious appearances. It was surprisingly interesting to read all the available information, especially due to the fresh setting that was not already used a hundred times in different games and stories. There’s also a very mysterious journal that requires a username and a password for access and stays a complete secret until you have finished the game at least once.
The visuals and the interesting design of 'Year Walk' are definitely the strongest part of the game, but in combination with an interesting story and the great soundtrack (albeit there’s not that much music, mostly in intense situations) the game's able to create a fantastic amosphere. Out there in a dark forest inhabitated by strange beings that are neither entirely good nor bad there’s a lot of potential for sending chills down your spine. __________________________________________
Unfortunately the games‘ lenght is from my point of view also the games' biggest downside: your first run will take approximately between two or three hours and as soon as you understand the puzzles and know how to solve them without searching for clues you will be able finish the game quite fast. There’s an achievement that wants you to finish the game in less than 20 minutes and in the end it’s not that particularly hard to get.
Another thing that I would like to mention here are the jumpscares – I simply don’t like them as an element to 'inflict' horror, they feel a bit... cheap. From my point of view the game has a strong atmosphere by itself and does not really need these „SURPRISE: spooky face riiiiiiight in front of the screen‘-moments to scare you. Luckily there are only a few of them.
The last negative point would be the implementation of touchscreen controls. At first I thought that the touchscreen of my Surface Tablet would be enough to play the game (because the game itself was ported from iOS to PC) but unfortunately you need a keyboard to move (and to solve one puzzle). __________________________________________
In the end I can say that the game surprised me a lot and the positive qualities of 'Year Walk‘ outweigh the short length by far. Sure, the games‘ charm is mostly created by the interesting visuals and the fresh setting but it succeeds nonetheless in building up a dense and mysterious atmosphere. There are some sparse horror elements – e.g. unexpected jump scares - but overall it’s the fear of what may happen and what lies at the end of your walk that will give you some chills, the story within the story.
It's definitely an interesting little horror-adventure that may entertain you for two up to three hours. Luckily there's some replayability due to a secret ending. In the end I would rate the game 8 out of 10 points and especially during sales it’s a great little title to grab. __________________________________________
This endorsement approved by The Reviewers' Union, providing better standards for reviews and reviewers.
69 people found this review helpful 175 people found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 18, 2015
Note: This is a horror game
I did not know this was a horror game at first. I was suprised. It shows in my underwear.
+ Great story + Awesome grapics
- The game takes place in Sweden and I live in Sweden. Some of these creatures I heard about in bedtime stories when I was young, but this game shed a new light. can't go out anymore. Please send supplies as I am unable to get my daily oatmeal.
First off, there are two things I must mention: one, I have had absolutely zero experience with the iOS version of Year Walk; this review is based 100% on the PC version currently available on Steam. Two, I almost exclusively dislike "puzzle games." I find them annoying and tedious. That being said, I found Year Walk to be a mesmerizing and enjoyable little game.
In terms of its gameplay, Year Walk doesn't break the mold - there's nothing revolutionary to be found here. The puzzles are relatively simple and only required me to doodle a few things down on a scratch pad to help me solve the majority of them. They're not overly difficult. And if you do find yourself stuck, there's a Hint system in-game that's actually useful. The controls for the PC work well overall, and I had no problems or confusion in how to do anything. So, as a port from a touch based device, this aspect is done fine.
So, then what makes this an excellent game? As I said, the puzzles presented in the game are not challenging. In fact, as I finished this game I came to the realization I had been tricked. This game wasn't about the puzzles at all. It was about the experience; the visuals, the music, the story, and the atmosphere it all creates. The puzzles are just a way to move you along. Year Walk is ultimately all about the experience. And it's definitely quite the experience. It's visually striking - the art style is unique and hauntingly beautiful, and the music fits perfectly in with it. Together they enhance a weird, dark, and rather sad story.
In the end, Year Walk feels fleshed out and solid. It creates a unique atmosphere that's hard to compare and even harder to forget. Despite not liking puzzles games, I really found myself engrossed in the world that Year Walk so successfully creates.
Addendum (3/19/2014) - After playing through the game completely, twice, and also messing around with extras and some achievements, I feel that I have to make note that this is a short game, and more importantly one that lacks replayability. I'd still recommend the game, it's just something to bear in mind when making a purchase.
Year Walk can essentially be described as a classic adventure game played in first peson. You move around the forest as you go on your 'Year Walk' and slowly piece together the puzzles and obscure story. It won the iOS GOTY award last year from many publications and I can easily see why it deserves the accolades.
Year Walk is heavily based on Finnish Swedish folklore and has an amazing art style. You will run into all kinds of creepy demons throughout your adventure. The game does have a few jump scares, but, overall, is more unsettling than scary. I would mention that I found the atmosphere quite breathtaking. The mood is set by the oppressive musical backdrop that never distracts as you crunch your way through the snow of the forest.
The puzzles are where I really dove into the game. I assembled a full piece of paper covered with drawings, notes, and clues over the course of my travels. There is an in-game map, encyclopedia, and hint system to help you through the game and learn about the Swedish background.
The game is quite short, your first play through should take you about forty five minutes to an hour and a half depending on how quickly things click for you. Multiple play through are encouraged and, in fact, half of the story and the true ending are hidden away in subsequent play. The method of unlocking that ending and reading through the story is quite the ride.
It is unfortunate as the game has been looked over on Steam entirely. Possibly due to the stream of trash that has been coming down as part of Valve's policies lately. I hope that it gets some more attention going forward as it is a great title.
Year Walk is one of those games that can stick with you for longer than usually. Between the tragic story, dark world and haunting atmosphere it's a very unique experience. With gameplay and other technicalities pushed aside, there's nothing to distract you from immersing yourself in the game. And when you think you're finished, in a very self-referential twist the game reveals another layer of itself to complete the story. Striking and distinct audiovisual side perfectly complements the setting and folklore elements, making the game just as beautiful as it is grim and unnerving. Some criticize it for being quite short. While this is true, it doesn't have to be seen as something negative - the game is polished to the point of being virtually perfect, with no unnecessary content to better capture the essence of its meaning. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. It left me astounded and reflective. I have a feeling I'll be thinking about it for quite a while.
It's a not too difficult a game to play, but there are some challenges; I found that the hardest thing to do was orient myself and figure out the clues for where to go. It's definitely easier to play the second time around. Some geniunely creepy moments, beautiful art, and in interesting story/Swedish mythology make this game worth the purchase.