In ‘Year Walk’ as a bodiless soul you traverse through a depressing winter depiction of Sweden. Looking for your one and only you are thrust into a horror world built on elements of swedish folklore. Through a dreary forest/farm town you are armed with maps, encyclopedias and other bits of information to aid you in your journey.
Overall Game Commentary:
Year walk was both beautiful and horrific. And yet all at the same time, I didn’t have much fun playing it. I should say I have never formally played a walking sim game (other than slender man maybe) so I was not entirely sure what to expect. I found myself entirely creeped out in the world I found myself in. And yet at the same time, it all felt rather light, and almost like a children’s book I might have flipped through. I will break down this feeling a bit more in a second, as the game’s mechanics obviously quite informed the emotions and feelings stirred by game play.
Mechanics and Associated Commentary:
This walking sim takes place in the first person. Fortunately maneuvering isn’t a matter of using controls or an artificial joystick, rather it is simply about flipping from side to side and tapping to move forward. This sort of simple movement worked very well on a mobile device, and I found myself feeling as though there were ‘lanes’ I was moving through. This helped me remember where I was going, where I had just come from and what I had just seen. It was this sort of flipping through the pages feeling that gave me children’s book vibes as I went through it.
Next, there is the dialogue with other characters. In the very beginning the narrative introduces you to a lady you’re seemingly in love with but destined not to be with. She talks to you using the mechanisms of silent film: black screen with just subtitles in between scenes. This worked alright, but became confusing when I couldn’t tell if some of the subtitles were things I was saying or she was.
Another key mechanic is the map system. Having the maps really makes it simple to understand where I was and where I could go. This, along with the navigation flow definitely worked well.
Throughout the game there are various puzzles that must be completed based on environmental observations of strange patterns throughout. These were sort of engaging but after a bit, I can’t say they were always very captivating and I wasn’t honestly sure at first how to deal with them.
While the presentation was light and enjoyable, I did realize that in order to complete some of the puzzles I would actually need to do some serious note taking. I can’t say I was the biggest fan of this as I wasn’t fully prepared for that sort of action, but it was an interesting experience off the screen.
The interjected horror scenes/experiences however I found very enjoyable and much more interesting to stumble upon. It felt really well crafted and well engineered. I was very impressed with these bits. Artistically it also had a nice bit of trippiness that would lure you in, only to get you with a jump scare.
I think a lot of my improvements that I noted would steer this game away from its target indie crowd and more towards a normie like myself. So in that way I don’t imagine the developers would care much for my thoughts. But personally I felt like the basis of the story was exciting enough that if I had just been able to get to the action a bit more quickly, or known what I was looking for more often as I observed things, I would have had more fun. Obviously the point of a walking sim isn’t to have your hand held throughout, so maybe I’m missing the mark. But hey, it was kinda scary so a little hand holding isn’t too bad 🙂