Critical Play: Mysteries – Year Walk

Name of Game: Year Walk

Creator: Simogo AB

Platform: iOS, Windows, OS X, Steam, Wii U

Target Audience: 12+

Formal Elements:

Year Walk gameplay is individual vs game, where the player explores a map in search of clues. There are a set number of actions – the player moves by ‘swiping’ up or down on the screen to move about the map, can explore left or right at a station, and also interact with challenges. Challenges give clues that help for future challenges – for example, a doll’s movement gave hints for what sequence to use later in the game.

Year Walk follows an embedded narrative, wherein the player follows a pre-determined story, and details how to proceed are distributed over time. The game is contained within the boundary of the phone app and map (which expands as the game progresses). The game gives no instructions, leaving it to the player to find their way. This makes the objectives initially unclear, with the player discovering how to proceed over the course of the game.

Intended Fun:

Year Walk incorporates Discovery, Fantasy, and Narrative types of fun. Discovery was brought about by the nature of the gameplay – the player explores the map to accomplish tasks and progress. Fantasy was brought about by the visuals (ominous, cold), which transports the player to a new world. Narrative is accomplished through the progression of gameplay, with a story unfolding over the course of the game.


I found it extremely difficult getting started with the game. It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to figure out how to move (by swiping up and down where allowed), and also to explore the map before I found a clue. As the game progressed, I became more acquainted with the map and controls, but still felt rather lost, which is probably a desired sensation by the game designers. I didn’t know what exactly would be needed in the future and what hints/clues/objects were important, only realizing that in retrospect. A moment of success for me was when I correlated the doll’s movements to the progression which I needed to hit the owls, unlocking a new part of the map. If I were to improve Year Walk, I would incorporate some journal wherein players could record notes/have pre-recorded notes when they find some hint. I believe this would help the narrative type of fun by allowing the player to focus more on the story and gameplay and remain immersed within the game, rather than having to take their focus off the game (like I did) to write down clues outside of their phone.

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