Year Walk

Year Walk made it onto my wishlist after a bunch of people recommended it as a super creepy and atmospheric puzzle game.  The general consensus was that it was too short, but still worth your time and money regardless.  Then it came on sale during the Halloween sales and I nabbed it.
tl;dr: Year Walk is a short and super creepy atmospheric puzzle game that is pretty short (~2 hours, unless you suck at puzzles and/or are unobservant) but still worth your time and money.  In fact it’s still worth your money at full price, because at ~6 bucks and 2 hours of playtime, I’d say 3 bucks an hour is worth the experience.  That’s how much I liked it.

The premise is… difficult to describe.  You’re not really given much background before you’re dumped into it.  The term “Year Walk” is based on a Swedish tradition that probably would be largely unheard of if it weren’t for this game.  All my information about it comes from this game and Wikipedia, and for all I know the creators of this game put it on Wikipedia, because this is the internet.  But basically, once a year (“Year walk” can also be translated as “Annual walk”) they’d go without food and water while locked in a dark room to deprive their senses, then leave at midnight to walk through the dark woods to the church to do battle with supernatural beings in the hopes of seeing the future.  The game follows that fairly closely, with a couple of other significant threads woven in that give the whole time-warping aspect a bit more substance.

You’re given NO guidance whatsoever, and honestly, I thought that was the most awesome part.  You meet up with someone at the beginning who’s all “You’re going on a Year Walk?  Don’t you know that’s dangerous?” and then you head out into the woods at night and wander aimlessly until everything gets fucked up.  I sent a series of emails to my friend while playing it which was basically just “This game is pretty cool and creepy. You should get it.”  “Wow.  What the fuck.”  “What the fuck.”  “What the FUCK!”  “Seriously you should probably get this.”

I will say you need a pad of paper nearby when you play, and there’s something a bit refreshing about that.  It’s been a while since puzzle games have respected their players enough to just leave them to their own devices, although some sort of in-game notetaking function would have been nice. There’s an in-game encyclopedia that includes the lore behind the legends and traditions.  You need to read it.  A lot of the game and guidance is concealed within the information that’s there, so don’t dismiss it as flavour.  A knock on the game is that sometimes it would seem like you should have all the information to solve something and you could dick around for ages trying to figure it out, when really there was another step first.  In fact, here’s a hint: When you first find the key, the next step is NOT to open the cemetery gate where the key very very obviously fits.  When the key vanishes after you find it it’s not because you collected it, it’s because it went somewhere else.  That was not obvious at all.

The other thing I will say is don’t cheat.  It’s really simple to look up all the solutions to everything on the internet, but the game is only two hours long man.  If you’re not going to get a pad of paper out and do it the old fashioned way you’ll probably be left wondering what the point was, because you missed the point.  Year Walk is a super creepy atmospheric game that respects its players to dig around and figure shit out, and the puzzles aren’t so hard that you need to Google them.  Check it out.