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Year Walk Review
Review Score:

Year Walk, an atmospheric adventure experience from Simogo, is now available from the app store. More a visual story than a game, Year Walk provides plenty of chills, odd imagery, and mild freak-out moments to go with its head-scratching puzzles.

Year Walk Pros:

  • Artistic surrealist graphics depicting bleak environment
  • Soundtrack features howling winds and snow-crunching footfalls
  • Controls utilize mostly swiping and multi-input gestures
  • Nails the creepy, spooky vibe

Year Walk Cons:

  • Adventure is rather short
  • No information or help whatsoever
  • Little replay value

The back story tells of a mystical journey that people took in earlier times to learn of events of significance during the upcoming year. There are certain times that these walks can begin (typically on the eve of some well-known holiday) and specific preparations that one must undergo before venturing out (fasting and avoiding others are two such conditions which must be met). These walks often take on an otherworldly dimension, with walkers meeting strange beings and witnessing unexplainable phenomena as they press on. Year Walk intends to give gamers a similar experience, with headphones and limited lighting helping to immerse you in this environment. The imagery is fairly monochromatic, using a lot of grayscale within its snowy landscapes. The soundtrack features a lot of whipping winds and snow-crunching footfalls as you move about to further enhance the feeling of cold isolation. You are given no instruction as to what to do at any given time, forcing you to fumble your way through using trial-and-error. We spent our first moments swiping back-and-forth and tapping randomly without making any progress. Within the widescreen presentation’s black bars, you’ll note small arrows appearing every so often. Swiping in the direction of these arrows allows you to move to different areas and encounter new objects, buildings, and curious puzzles. Information gleaned in one location may be required to open a door or remove an obstacle in another. It’s very easy to get lost, especially given the lack of a map or other indicator. While the full journey may not be all that lengthy, the experience is quite unlike anything we’ve come across on iOS and well worth the time you put in.

The graphics have an artistic, surrealist vibe that we really enjoyed. From human-like figures with horse heads to creepy hanging dolls and more, you’re never sure what to expect next. The grayscale is punctuated at times by bits of color, such as pale blue streams or blood red puddles. There are a handful of intentionally scary moments that certainly sent a good jolt through us as we found ourselves drawn deeply into the adventure. The minimal sound effects work in concert with the uneasiness of the journey, never revealing too much but always keeping us firmly entrenched in the task at hand. Controls utilize a lot of swiping to move within this strange universe, and the occasional taps or multi-fingered inputs to solve puzzles. There are plenty of times that you’ll feel like you are wandering around with no clue what to do, which can be a little frustrating. However, since not knowing and struggling to make progress is an intrinsic part of the year walk itself, we applaud the design choice.

Replay value will vary, though the main reason to take the journey more than once is likely related to wanting to experience the visuals and creepy atmosphere again. There doesn’t appear to be side puzzles or any additional content that would differ upon replay. There are no scores, timers, achievements, leaderboards, or any of the trapping of traditional mobile games, just you and you wits to get you through to the end. A free companion app was released that gives you a little more backstory about the things you encounter along the way, and it’s recommend that you use both for the most robust experience. Year Walk is an intriguing offering, setting you back $3.99 and racking up a 4.5-Dimple score.

Year Walk Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2013-02-24T21:16:06+00:00 rating 4.5 out of 5

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