The Apple editors have been on a side-scrolling platform kick the past few weeks. Two weeks ago, Cordy 2 won the honor of Editor’s Choice and last week, Rock Runner bounced into the spotlight in its debut week. So, it came as a bit of a surprise this week when Year Walk was awarded the Editor’s Choice title. Well, only a surprise until playing the game and actually experiencing the beauty and complexity it has to offer.
Whenever a game produces a unique and artistic theme, it always generates a lot of interest. Year Walk is full of beautifully rendered, dark and eerie images that draw the player in. However, looks are not everything and this app also has brains.
There are various puzzles to solve using images you discover throughout the environment. It is full of rich and complex riddles that are very difficult to find, and even more difficult to figure out.
The story is based on Swedish mythology and incorporates creatures like the Brook Horse and Mylings. Players enter the game from the point of view of a lovelorn individual who decides to go on a Year Walk, which is a treacherous trip that often leads to death. If the Walker makes it to the Church, he or she will see the future.
The story begins at the cabin. You are standing outside of it and must figure out where to go and what to do next. There are no instructions or tutorials to tell you how to move or what your goal is. You are isolated and alone, wandering in an unfamiliar place with no knowledge of how to get to where you want to go.
To get started, swipe from left to right. Eventually, you’ll see an arrow that either points forward or backward. Follow the arrows by swiping upward or downward. This is how you explore the forest.
You will often come across puzzles that you don’t even know are there. For example, there is a wooden doll hanging in a dark shack. You can tap and swipe on it and nothing will happen. It is only when you spin its head multiple times that something will happen.
It is highly recommended that you download the free companion app to help you understand the nuances of Year Walk a little better. There are also some useful hints hidden deep in the wording of the companion app that may help you if you get stuck.
This is somewhat of a horror story, but not like a monster attack or murder mystery. The bloody images are subtle and creep up on you with such nonchalance that you don’t even realize you are scared until you try to go to sleep.
This game is not for everyone. It unfolds very slowly. There is not one word of instruction. You can’t restart the game. There is no menu screen. When you start playing Year Walk, you are isolated and alone, just like you would be on a real one.
The dark beauty and uniquely complex puzzles make it clear that this game was meant to be Apple’s Editor’s Choice this week. It wouldn’t be surprising if it won Game of the Year for 2013.