Year Walk is a dark, eerie, short game based on the old and mostly forgotten Swedish tradition Årsgång. Mainly performed on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Årsgång allowed, if successful, a glimpse into the future, more precisely into the following year. The one performing the ritual had to follow specific instructions which varied regionally, but most of the variations had certain elements in common.
As ‘Yearwalker‘ one was supposed to lock oneself up into a dark room, without light, food, drink or communication to others for an entire day. At the stroke of midnight one would leave the solitude and head for the local church. On the way one would encounter certain figures from Nordic folklore, such as the Huldra or the Brook-Horse. If one managed to reach the church, a look through the window would reveal the future.
Simon Flesser and Magnus “Gordon” Gardebäck from Simogo teamed up with writer Jonas Tarestad, who already wrote a film script about Årsgång. Together they turned the script into a game instead of a film, which may be short (I spent about 3h for the entire play through), but very atmospheric and touching. And probably longer as the movie would have been.
You play as a guy named Daniel Svensson, who’s on his way to meet with his love Stina. The meeting doesn’t work out as he planned and he decides to to the Year Walk in order to glimpse into their future. Stina warns him, but – like men are – he doesn’t listen. Okay, I have to admit that if he had listen to her, there would be no game, so I guess we can look past it. This time. 😉
The game is wonderfully and artfully eerie. You have to walk through the forest and encounter four creatures of Nordic folklore in order to get the key to the grounds where the church is. While there is suspense and some scary parts the game has only two scare jumps and those are well implemented (and not blunt as to cover the fact that a horror game is actually boring as hell… but that’s another topic). Beautiful graphics and an amazing soundtrack makes something special out of a rainy and cold afternoon. And you learn something about Swedish folklore, which was actually one reason I bought the game.
On a last note… the normal price for Year Walk is €6. You have to decide for yourself if a 3h game with very few replaying potential is worth it or not. I really enjoyed it and I definitely paid more for movie tickets in the past for bad movies. But if you’re thinking ‘Nah… €6 for 3h is way too much’ keep your eyes open for sales.
How about you? Have you heard about Year Walk before? Do you have more information about the tradition than can be found on the internet (most of which is linked to the game)? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.
Until then… Merry Christmas! ☃