I’m feeling curt today, so here it is: Year Walk is fantastic. There you go. You can go buy it now, and I can go back to playing it for a third time. Good day, sir.
Okay, so I’m hearing from some superiors that I shouldn’t give one line reviews just because I want to go back to year walking. Year walking, in case you’re not an expert in Swedish folklore, is the ancient tradition of venturing into the woods at the turn of the new year, hoping to catch a vision of the future. As the player, you enter the body of a lovelorn Swede (like you’ve always dreamed of) and journey through the dark woods searching for hope. Once midnight breaks, though, you find yourself caught up in a freaky threesome between sci-fi, mystery, and horror. Best of all, just when you think you’ve got this game figured out, it starts blurring the lines of reality, and makes you question where the game ends and the true mystery begins. Believe me, I want to gush all about what exactly I mean by those vague words, but I’m painstakingly biting my tongue here because Year Walk is an experience that should be fresh and unspoiled.
While searching for your fate in the supernatural woods, you’ll encounter a variety of puzzles, most of which can be solved by paying careful attention to clues in the environment. Gameplay is kept fluid, because the puzzles themselves aren’t too daunting, and there’s even a last-resort hint system, just in case (although I recommend you avoid it).
The game pulls off just the right tone of captivating creepiness. Combine the hauntingly beautiful art style with the eerie noises of midnight spirits and you get a big bag of nightmare eye candy. More than its occasional jump frights, Year Walk is a constant “I’m being watched” feeling that makes me uneasy but doesn’t scare me off completely. The game as a whole doesn’t cross the thin line into “piss myself” fear levels, though if you’re exceptionally bladder challenged you might want to play with the lights on.
Cooler than puzzles and scares, Year Walk is a cultural exploration of some of Sweden’s darker folklore. You can use the in-game encyclopedia to brush up on the spirits you’ll run across, my personal favorite being the stylish demon horse giving you eyes you from the river.
My only complaint? I wish there were more. I loved every minute of heart pounding, puzzle solving, mind-blow inducing minute of Year Walk, but I think I’m spoiled in wanting another few hours from a story that may best be served short and sweet. There’s a quality over quantity argument to be made here, but overall I believe Year Walk accomplishes a full, well-paced narrative appropriate for the $5.99 price tag.
[+Awesome story] [+Creepy vibe] [+Beautiful art] [+Great auditory experience] [+Makes me wish it was longer, even though it’s the perfect length] [+Based on folklore] [+Slenderhorse] [-A couple of confusing puzzle solutions]