Sweden seems to have more video games per capita than any country except perhaps Japan. Its ten million residents have at various times produced Minecraft, Mirror’s Edge, and the Battlefield series, to name but three very popular games.
But sometimes it’s the smaller, less well-known games that deserve the attention more. In this case, I’m referring to Year Walk, a quite chilling adventure game set in a Swedish forest that ticks most of the boxes for a European indie adventure game. It’s got bleak graphics, themes of horror running throughout, a beautiful but minimal soundtrack and a unique approach to gameplay.
Year Walk brings a lot of mythology to the table, and at first it can be a little confusing in the story department. While it makes sense quickly enough, the initial impression is rather disturbing and throws up some unpleasant feelings for the player.
Gameplay involves a large number of puzzles, often of the ‘remember the password’ type but some others too. It’s rather basic, although for a cheap, originally mobile game that’s perhaps to be expected.
The real appeal is in the presentation. Year Walk really looks like a pop-up book, although one you’d never give to your child for fear of scarring them. The white, snow-covered landscapes are travelled through as layered 2D planes, clearly designed for tablet rather than PC use but with a charming quality about them.
The main problem with it is that it’s not overly clear what to do. Giving the player freedom to explore is one thing, but much of the play time for the game is aimless wandering around and occasionally getting lost (although an easily accessible map does help with this.
Although it’s a year old by this point, it’s really quite an interesting exploration of well-worn concepts. Best to get the tablet version if you can, although this review is for the PC version. 80%