michaelenger's Year Walk (PC) review

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A creepy and unsettling experience

Year Walk can be summed up neatly in a single word: unsettling. It relies on a minimalistic interface and a unique art style to present a world where everything is a just little off. The game focuses more on exploration than strict puzzle solving and you're left to decipher what things mean for yourself without any clear indication on what to do.

The game is about a young man who undergoes a Swedish tradition known as a "year walk" where you isolate and starve yourself for a day and then wander through the woods in an attempt to see the future. This premise is then built upon by bringing in other Swedish folklore elements such as the huldra and the brook horse which manifest as visions and present puzzles for you to solve.

At its barest, Year Walk is a first-person point-and-click adventure game, but lumping it in with the likes of Myst and The 7th Guest does a disservice to how much the Swedish developers have been able to accomplish with so little. The graphics consists of combined drawings and 3D shapes and uses a very muted color scheme which suits the theme of being alone in the woods. Similarly, there are few sounds aside from your own footsteps crunching in the snow, something which makes it seem like the whole world is holding its breath while you wander about the wilderness.

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There are some jump scares in the game, but they are few and far between, only adding to the overall tension as you wander the frozen landscape. What is more striking is the general off-putting feeling of the entire experience. You're never told where to go and the puzzles are never explained and usually rely on their own esoteric rules. However, the game features a map and a very nicely balanced hint system, and through experimentation and paying attention to the hints scattered about the game you should never be stuck. It also has en encyclopaedia which explains the origins of the creatures you meet and will help you solve some of the puzzles.

Year Walk is a minimalistic game; more of an experience than a challenge. It puts you in the shoes of a person you don't know in a place you've never been and expects you to piece together the purpose as you go along. It shows how much can be accomplished with very little as long as you have a creative and cohesive aesthetic and aren't afraid to let the player figure it out for themselves. It is a frightening, fantastic and deeply unsettling game which lasts for about an hour, meaning that it can be completed in a single session. Highly recommended.

Other reviews for Year Walk (PC)

    Year Walk Review: The Road Less Traveled 0

    Year Walk’s fondness for folklore was not lost on me. Although said folklore stems from Swedish superstitions, I still recognized goat-headed Grims and water-loving Brook Horses. If those creatures sound foreign, you will not find them in fairy tales. Year Walk dips its mitts into the horror genre, delivering a narrative as perplexing as the puzzles players encounter.The game’s name is somewhat enigmatic, too. A year walk is akin to a vision quest that, if successful, grants people f...

    1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

    Year Walk 0

    Beautiful, eerie and weird horror game. Daniel, the protagonist enters this world of Swedish folklore, full with not so well-known creatures, who take childrens souls, leave strange clues, etc. The game itself is pretty short, but if you are interested you can read the Encyclopedia, and as the story continues the player gets pulled more and more into this dark world. The puzzles are fairly easy, but challangeing enough to keep up the interest, but not to draw the focus from the story and the wh...

    1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

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