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The Game Effect Editorial

You Should Play Year Walk

A spooky, quirky iOS game worth checking out

By Daniel Jones on 2/28/2013
I'm not a huge fan of old-school Myst -style adventure games. It's a genre that came to prominence at a time in my life when I couldn't tolerate any game that didn't let me stomp, shoot or race something. Though Myst and its sequels and spin-offs were beautiful games that I always wanted to like, I just didn't have the patience. .

I must be getting old, because I find myself seeking out these types of games now that the genre has seen a resurgence on mobile platforms. The finest of these that I have played is an unsettling black and white hand-drawn adventure called Year Walk.

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Developer Simogo has previously worked on kid-friendly iOS games like Beat Sneak Bandit, a stealthy rhythm game that until now, I'd never heard of. However, Year Walk is a completely different beast altogether. The game puts players in the shoes of a character embarking on a year walk -- a sort of spiritual journey. The back story of the game is extensive enough to warrant downloading the free companion app; a compilation of stories and real-world Swedish lore the game is based on.

Unlike the static screens of other genre contemporaries, players in Year Walk are free to move from left to right and back and forth at certain designated intersections. You start in a snowy wood outside a humble cabin, while occasionally encountering witches, apparitions and other entities that may or may not actually exist.

The black and white aesthetic is nothing new but it adds to the atmosphere and general uneasiness of the whole game. You will see some things that may not seem spooky, but Year Walk's visuals firmly plant root in your mind and take over your psyche. The feeling of isolation is suffocatingly palpable and immerses the player in the role of the game's character. It's a game about leaving the comforts of home and facing your deepest fears alone. That a spiritual journey simulator would be so comfortably at home on an iPad, is an irony that doesn't seem to be lost on Year Walk's creators. In fact, it seems like that's exactly the sort of message they might be sending.

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Like the story, the puzzles are obtuse beyond belief and maddeningly frustrating. Backtracking is a constant necessity and taking notes is a must. Seriously, keep a pen and paper handy. It's all standard adventure game stuff, and doesn't sound all that great in print, but in practice, this is one of the most captivating iOS games I've ever played. The sense of satisfaction gained from finally solving one of those obtuse puzzles combines with the breathtaking sense of discovery to make this a game well worth playing. I haven't finished Year Walk and I don't know how long that will take, so these are simply my impressions. For what its worth, this is a game I highly recommend to anyone who appreciates artistic indie titles and has a fair amount of patience.
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KrazyTaco1 on March 06, 2013
I think very well produced and designed mobile phone games have a very big niche, too bad there are not as many as I would like.
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