- Platform: iOS
- Developer: Simogo
- Publisher: Simogo
- Release Date: February 21, 2013
- Price: $3.99
- Official: Year Walk
“Walk into the forest, find the truth”
Its always great to see developers break out into new genre’s or styles, especially when the result is something wholly unique or special. Simogo have released three games on the iOS platform: Kosmo Spin, Bumpy Road, and Beat Sneak Bandit. Each of those releases had a whimsical style and simplistic but fun gameplay, Year Walk is unlike any of Simogo’s past work. With a story shrouded in mystery, puzzles that require out of the box thinking, and the sense of ever present dread, Year Walk is anything but whimsical and fun.
Set within a quiet and unsettling forest in Sweden, Year Walk forces players to trek through deep snow and past numerous obstacles towards an unpredictable goal, all set in motion by an all too brief conflict. Everything is questionable within Year Walk and everything is blanketed with a thick layer of unease. These woods are foreboding and it is easy to suspect an unknown horror to be lurking over the next bend.
This games biggest strength is its secrecy, what is it you are experiencing? What hides under the sliver of reality being presented to you? The goal of unraveling this thread will see you moving from location to location overcoming puzzles of all shapes and sizes, from deciphering a puzzle box to putting to rest years old mysteries surrounding deaths. Something wicked is at work within the forests of Sweden and it is up to you to get to the bottom of it all.
The team at Simogo have taken great care to make Year Walk immersive and unobtrusive. There are no menus within the game nor are there any straight forward directions, it is entirely up to the player to decipher the meanings of clues and to find the correct way in which to interact with the environments they are presented. Controls are never an issue with Year Walk, only your intelligence. Here’s a free hint, take notes.
Increasing the unease is the excellent sound design from composure Daniel Olsen. Olsen’s work escalates the feeling of the surreal, tying in perfectly with the stories reliance on Swedish Folklore. Complementing the music are the games sound effects, from the crunch of snow to the creaking of an abandoned windmill, its all solid here as well. Visually the game takes on the look of a minimalistic storybook, one that continues the trend of looking proper on the outside, but hiding something dirty underneath.
Year Walk only took me about an hour or two to finish the “core” game, but even at the end, Year Walk still holds one final secret. To truly appreciate and complete this journey you must download the Companion app on the App Store. The content is free for all and is, on the surface, just an application to further delve into the games rich folklore influences, but, just as in the games setting, the app itself hides its own secrets just under the surface. I will not spoil anything, but this final piece to Year Walks puzzle made everything click into place and brought this game up from a solid title into something special.
Initially my time with Year Walk was a good one, but slightly underwhelming. The puzzles were clever diversions and the presentation was a fun mix of the eerie with storybook, but something was still missing. While I was enjoying myself I was still slightly confused as to why so many were praising this game. Things were solid across the board but nothing was really standing out, it was puzzling to me. It wasn’t until the final act of the story, when the game itself broke out of its box, that I gained a sense of appreciation for the work the folks at Simogo put in. With so many games falling apart in the final stretch, it is refreshing to see one that takes the time needed to establish a sense of place, and then sprints forward to a rewarding conclusion. For those interested in a puzzle adventure that appreciates your intelligence and curiosity, Year Walk is a trip worth investing in, and if you do, make sure you complete the entire story. –Chuck
- + Clever puzzles
- + Great atmosphere
- + Soundtrack impresses
- – May start slow for some
- – Quite short