Year Walk review

After the wistful whimsy of Bumpy Road and the cheery rhythms of Beat Sneak Bandit, this is quite a departure for Swedish studio Simogo: Year Walk is a dark-hearted firstperson adventure that represents a leap into the unknown for both player and developer. It’s a daring move that pays off handsomely in an iOS game like nothing else you’ve seen on the format to date.

It’s a horror novella in game form, and as such is best savoured in the small hours, with headphones inserted and volume turned up. It strikes – and holds – that fine balance between anticipation and trepidation, as you cautiously step through a snowy forest, without ever knowing your destination.

Storytelling takes precedence over systems, but the environmental puzzles are intelligently handled, while navigation is equally smart. Simple swipes take you through a three-dimensional environment layered in 2D planes, scenery folding into view as if you’re exploring a pop-up book: a papercraft fairytale that only gets more disturbing the deeper you venture into the woods.

As you’d expect from the studio behind Beat Sneak Bandit, sound plays a critical role: a blend of evocative effects and sparse themes do much to build a menacing atmosphere, and it’s this restraint that gives its infrequent shocks greater power. A free companion app adds texture to the game’s mythical elements to further unsettle, its role becoming more crucial still in a dazzling, head-spinning endgame. This is a brave and truly original work, and if this is what happens when Simogo explores its dark side, it should do so more often.

9