a portfolio of videogame writings
Wandering through the wintery Swedish forests of Year Walk is an eerily disquieting experience. Snow drifts silently across your view as you make your way down paths lined with ominously suggestive carvings and monuments; the screen flickers and speckles like dusty old celluloid being passed through a rusty projector. The only audible sounds are that of the natural – the underfoot crunch of snow, the gentle trickle of a nearby stream, and occasionally, the unnerving drones of the wholly unnatural.
Based on the 19th century Swedish folklore of årsgång – an ominous prophetic vision quest intended to reveal fortunes for the year ahead – Year Walk is a horror game with a brooding ambience so thick that it envelopes like few other iOS titles. But whilst it brandishes its teeth every now and then with a few well timed jump scares, it’s the suggested horrors that give it such an effective atmosphere, much like the unsettlingly tense early Silent Hill’s.
Year Walk is the antithesis of the socially connected, bite-sized distance runners and cutesy puzzlers that saturate mobile gaming, and a dark-hearted change of direction from the whimsical titles Malmö based developer Simogo made its name with. From prologue to conclusion it demands to be played in a solitary late night sitting with a pair of headphones in a dimly lit room. Scratch away at its brooding exterior, however, and you’ll find the same elegance of design that made Beat Sneak Banditand Bumpy Road such joys to play.