Year Walk Review: A Dark and Mesmerizing Trip Through the Woods
My walks are never very eventful. Nothing quite memorable happens, and it is just another day. The walk that I took in Year Walk was dark, and haunted with the ghosts of Swedish folklore. It took me on a trip through my imagination, and led me through an unexpected journey into the future. With innovative puzzles, a great soundtrack, and an amazing black and white art style, Year Walk was nothing I had expected and everything I wanted in a game.
Year Walk is a game entirely based upon Swedish folklore. On your way through the game, the characters that you meet are all based on different mythological creatures that you would find in Swedish mythology. The character designs were imaginative and a little disturbing, but it fit the overall atmosphere of the game. The primarily black and white art style helped to define the setting, showing the bleakness of the snow-covered forest filled with dead trees and emptiness. The environments are incredibly well drawn, and even the empty trees look beautiful. As beautiful as it is, it is still simple, yet is incredibly satisfying to look at, and resembles an old black and white film. I can say that this is one of my favorite games in terms of art style.
Along with the great art style that helped set up Year Walk is a great soundtrack. The music and the sounds of the forest help set the mood, and create a bit of tension when needed. The music is haunting and beautiful, and fits perfectly well with many of the sequences and puzzles. This a game that you NEED to have the sound on while playing, otherwise much of the game is lost. Even the crunching of the snow under your feet as you walk is satisfying, and the noises and music will help to lead you on as you wander through the forest. The ambiance and effect of the music that Year Walk uses is something that I wish many games would try to take advantage of, and helps set the bar for what a good soundtrack can do.
The gameplay in Year Walk is also top-notch. The game runs along the lines of a point and click adventure, as you wander what are essentially 2D environments. The puzzles are creative, but not entirely too difficult. While a few of the puzzles did cause me to sit and think, many of them are quite simple. A couple of the puzzles make good use of the keyboard when ported over from the touchscreen iOS, but they felt limited and made me wish that they would have incorporated the capabilities that would have come with the keyboard more. The PC version also includes a map and a hint system. I would recommend not using these, as they make Year Walk too easy, and they take out much of the exploration and surprise that comes without them. Despite this, the gameplay is enjoyable, and is still quite fun.
Though simple, Year Walk was incredibly effective. Though a little short (I beat Year Walk in one and a half sittings), the game does have good replay value. It is one of the best games that came out in 2013, and the port to PC was as enjoyable as the iOS version, was a good transition. I am sure that the game's rerelease this year will be one of the more enjoyable of the year for those who pick it up now that it is on PC. Year Walk does not disappoint, and I recommend it for any gamer looking for a quick fix.