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Taking a break from the bubbly and colorful tones of Beat Sneak Bandit and Bumpy Road, Simogo's latest iOS game veers off into much darker territory, offering a completely different yet equally rewarding experience. While it starts off innocently enough, Year Walk quickly spirals out into an enthralling puzzle adventure steeped in haunting imagery and supernatural mystery. It keeps you guessing at every turn, but locks you in its grasp with smart challenges and heavy atmosphere. The best part is that your detective work doesn't stop once the end credits roll.
Culled from the depths of Swedish folklore, year walking is a form of vision quest designed to let you grasp a glimpse of the future. Traditionally, the ancient practice would also put you in the path of dangerous spirits who would help or hinder your journey. Year Walk weaves its bizarre tale around these supernatural themes, meshing them with a grim story that unfolds in unsettling ways as you push further into the adventure.
Navigating the snowy woodlands around your quiet cabin begins peacefully. Your footsteps make an audible crunch in the snow, as you slide your fingers to scroll the scenery left and right. Pathways forward and backward reveal themselves as you scan the quiet forest, and pulling your way through the maze-like nature landscape reveals new areas to pore over. Of course, wandering around the beautiful forest is only half of the experience.
Your trek soon takes an eerie turn, as encounters with strange creatures challenge you to study your surroundings and piece together the clues needed to progress further into the mystery. The puzzles are intuitive, giving you just enough clues to let you figure things out on your own with a little tinkering. You might find yourself turning your iOS device in unusual ways and experimenting with different kinds of touches to produce many "aha" moments. It's immensely satisfying when you finally overcome a particularly tricky hurdle.
Beyond its gripping atmosphere, chilling tale, and clever puzzles, Year Walk is also interesting because it pairs with a free, separate companion app (Year Walk Companion) that offers some historical commentary to shine an interesting light on your quest. When you feel stumped, it's worth flipping through Companion to search for helpful clues. As intense as the main adventure is, there's more to uncover beyond the endgame, and the companion app is a crucial piece of this puzzle. It's in these after-moments where the most fascinating discoveries tied to Year Walk's experience unfold. Without giving anything away, it's absolutely worth sticking around to follow where the clues lead.
The bottom line. Year Walk is smart, thrilling, and absolutely stunningly crafted. It'll throw you for a loop, leaving you transfixed to the screen until you shake out all of its dark secrets.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later
Stunning atmosphere. Deep gameplay that continues beyond the main adventure. Truly thought-provoking.
Main adventure feels short, despite extra mileage provided by the free companion app.