The cult success of 2013’s Year Walk proved that there was room amongst mobile gaming’s casual, throwaway titles for something a little edgier and more thought-provoking. However, any feelings that the iPhone was perhaps not the ideal platform for this creeping Swedish horror are somewhat vindicated by this updated port to home computers.
The difference is akin to watching an in-flight movie then re-watching it on a home cinema. Year Walk’s beautifully brittle art deserves the bigger screen, it’s brooding sound design longs for speakers beyond the capabilities of a smart phone, whilst its control system benefits enormously with the flit from smudgy finger movement to a more elegant mouse and keyboard configuration.
Based on an in-game Swedish folklore ritual involving mild starvation, hallucination and time travel, Year Walk stands as a singular beast right from the outset. Played out with the clever use of juncture filled 2D planes to give the illusion of depth, Simogo’s breakthrough game asks players to solve a series of abstract and sometimes grim puzzles all played out to a rather sombre, curious narrative.
As an iPhone title, Year Walk drew praise for its clever use of the platform, even leading players to ‘app-hop’ for the full experience. Obviously this has led to some concessions here, but Simogo have still utilised the new format with conviction, leading to some altered puzzles and new locations for veteran players to enjoy. A subtle hint system and some tough achievements are ephemeral enough but the inclusion of a map is perhaps the key new ingredient, saving endless, aimless trundles across the confusing snowy landscape.
It’s rare for a title like Year Walk to make the leap from handheld to big screen, with most other games opting for the opposite route in order to wring a few more pennies from a known property. Yet one minute into the game itself will tell you that there’s nothing conventional about Year Walk and this grand step up to a loftier platform is entirely befitting a game of this calibre.