Last year, in February, Swedish video game developer Simogo released Year Walk on iOS. This year, the game was released on the PC, available to download on Steam, and so, I finally got to have a go at this game that I’ve heard so much about. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
The game is based on the old Swedish ritual of årsgång (year walking) which the game describes thusly: “In the old days, man tried to catch a glimpse of the future in the strangest of ways. They locked themselves in dark rooms, not partaking of food and drink. At the stroke of midnight, they ventured out into the night through the dark woods where strange creatures roamed. To see if they would be wealthy. To see if they would be happy. To see if they would live. To see if they would be loved.”
The game pretty much details the tradition well. It was an ancient custom that would, supposedly, allow the hiker – or ‘year walker’ – to see 12 months into the future. But not only does this opening tell us about årsgång, it also describes what the game’s about.
You play as a young man who partakes in årsgång, and so, at the stroke of midnight, we venture out into the night, and into the dark woods where strange creatures roam. And when I say strange creatures, I mean strange creatures. The creatures – based on Scandinavian folklore – are brilliantly designed, and add to the surreal horror of the game. They include the Brook Horse – otherwise known as the Bäckahästen or bækhesten – a pale horse that would live in rivers and lakes, and lure people to their deaths by getting them to ride on its back and then drowning them.
And then there’s the Huldra, or skogsrå, a seductress who would lure men into caves so they couldn’t find their way out (which actually happens in the game), or into forests to suck the life out of them. She’s not too dissimilar to mermaids or the Sirens from Odyssey.
Like I said, the creatures are all very well designed, and remind me to a degree of some of the creatures seen in another Swedish horror, the movie Häxan.
All the information about the creatures met in the game, as well as year walking itself, can be found in the game’s encyclopedia. If you were playing this on the iOS, the encyclopedia is available as an app, but with the PC version (which is the one I’m reviewing), it’s handily placed in the top right hand corner. Along with the encyclopedia is the journal, which is inaccessible to begin with, but is vital if you are to uncover the full story and unlock the true ending.
The game is an adventure/horror game, and the creatures we meet are in the way of completing the game, and to defeat them (or at least get past them) the player must solve puzzles. Some of the puzzles are really straight forward, some are a little more complicated, and some can be figured out on your own in a matter of time.
Of course the PC version differs slightly to the iOS version. In the iOS version you move your finger across the screen to move from left to right, and go forwards and backwards, while on the PC version I used the WASD keys. And some of the puzzles are different too. Some on the iOS version require you to press two items at once, using two fingers, which of course you can’t do on the PC as you’re using the mouse. So if you need a walkthrough, be sure to get the right one, although, if you do ever get stuck, there’s a handy ‘hint’ button for you to click.
The soundtrack is really good too, and adds to the surreal nature of the game, creating an eerie atmosphere. The soundtrack is provided by Daniel Olsén, with one song by Jonathan Eng, and is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Loudr and Amazon, and is really worth checking out.
Our rating: (5 / 5)