There’s a turning point in Year Walk that will forever change your opinion of it. As the title suggests, you will certainly walk a lot. Forward and backward. Side to side. Whichever direction you choose, you will cover that ground more than once. I wouldn’t blame you if you initially think the game is tedious; however, you’ll gain a faint idea of what you’re doing once you reach the windmill, and you’ll see some fascinating, bizarre, and horrifying sights afterwards.
You have a lover who can’t be with you in the end, and she pleads you to calm down. She finds out about your plans to embark on your foolish year walk and begs you to reconsider. But midnight comes, and you decide to venture out into the wintery unknown. All of this, of course, is to see the future of your relationship.
Year Walk takes inspiration from old Swedish mythology. Men from Sweden would partake in a brutal ceremony that leaves them unhealthy. They have the chance to turn back at Midnight, but those who carry on are usually unsuccessful. These walkers must weigh the costs because they have the opportunity to see the future of their happiness, financial security, and even their relationships among many terrible possibilities. In order to gain such answers, one must simply start walking.
Year Walk is a first person adventure game, but it allows players limited mobility. You can move left and right all you want, but you can’t move forward or backward until you’re given an onscreen arrow. After all of that walking, you’ll start to notice things about the same environment. You’ll notice the many runes or the symbols on the trees; they usually point to something grander than the current situation. Eventually, something will click in your mind, and you’ll begin to see the solutions to each of the game’s mysteries—fitting for a ceremony that makes participants suffer in exchange for a glimpse of the future.
The iPhone version had unique, cognitively satisfying puzzles that required you to use your device in unexpected ways, and it never gave any hints. The iPhone version expected you to rotate the device, use the touchscreen in ways you didn’t think possible, and even download companion apps. It was a difficult game, although one simply needed to pay attention to the game’s environment to find the solutions.
The PC version, on the hand, cannot replicate the same interesting puzzles. It resorts to more traditional point-and-click puzzles, the most complicated requires holding down certain keys. The puzzles are still competently executed by modern point-and-click standards, and Simogo made sure to alter them in order to challenge fans of the original version. Seriously, even if you’re an experienced walker, you should check out the new features such as the encyclopedia, hint system, map and journal. If you use the hints, you’ll have a more leisurely walk than the original version had intended; however, you can choose to ignore it if you want a challenge.
Year Walk still retains the brilliant atmosphere and terrifying moments without adding any unnecessary changes. The soundtrack matches the origins of the Swedish folklore, but it balances it with the deathly silence, along with the chillingly abrupt noises, that permeates the horror genre. The limited mobility described earlier creates at first a picaresque countryside of Sweden during the winter; however, the developers eventually introduce slight changes such as night time, bloody footprints in the snow, and the appearance of bizarre, Tim Burtonesque creatures. These changes completely transform the same environment you’ll explore over and over again.
Fans of the original game won’t find new scares, but I managed to find them to be just as terrifying as the first time. And there’s no reason to change them. The slow build up between your first encounter with a creature exploits the tedium you feel while exploring the environment; it’s more equivalent to a sucker punch than a jump scare.
The story also remains untouched, and for good reason: it was executed flawlessly to begin with. Apart from the discussion with your lover, you’ll find zero dialogue in the game. You are free to look up the resources you have available, but I chose to consort the encyclopedia after the game—it’s your choice, really. But where the game stands out is its ending sequence. I don’t want to give anything away, but it requires you to do some research. It’s a unique approach to storytelling in video games, and I commend Simogo for its flawless execution. I still think about the game’s ending and mythology long after I’ve completed it.
Year Walk is slightly less risky this time around, as its participants now have access to a map and other resources. And while the puzzles aren’t as interesting as the mobile version, Simogo changed the puzzles just enough to challenge the fans. Some may complain about the new hint system, but now everyone will have a chance to experience Year Walk’s fantastic ending sequence.
This review is based on the digital copy of Year Walk for PC provided by Simogo Games.