“Year Walk” (Simogo, 2013) is one of those games that completely passed me by on its release. When a friend recommended it to me early this year, I assumed it to be relatively new, and only later did I discover just how late I was to the party. It’s precisely because I only recently discovered “Year Walk” that I’ve chosen to write about it, as I’m sure there are many people who, just like me, entirely missed this fantastic game.
If I had to narrow this game down to a few common genres, I would call it a puzzle-based horror game. But, that doesn’t do the game much justice. Really, it’s an exploratory, puzzle-based adventure into dark (and sometimes horrifying) Swedish folklore. The gameplay involves walking through a snowy landscape and solving puzzles. What drives the action, though, is the folkloric foundation of the game. The player’s character has embarked on a mysterious occult ritual known as a “year walk,” which involves, among other things, carrying out a solitary night walk on New Year’s Eve in order to earn mystical knowledge of the future. The player sets out on this journey with two accessible items: a map and an encyclopedia, both of which are essential to the game experience. The map guides the player and makes note of particular landmarks useful in puzzle solving, and the encyclopedia provides information about the key forces in the game, including a folklore professor, a bloodsucking forest goddess and a monster in the form of a horse that drowns its victims, to name a few.
All of the game’s mythological figures seem to be, at least in part, rooted in genuine Swedish folklore. The real origins of these figures, when combined with the gorgeous and imaginative art style, give the game a very mystical quality. The eerie but beautiful atmosphere and clever writing work together to create a haunting atmosphere that serves to remind us why so much horror fiction originates from folklore and myth. I highly recommend this game to any players interested in the origins of horror, in game narrative, or in interesting visual style. As of now, the game can be picked up for between $4 and $6 on iOS (that’s right, this is a mobile game) and Steam (both PC and Mac).
Brown is a member of the class of 2015.