It's almost impossible to describe the experience of playing Year Walk. It's a little bit like The Room, with its enigmatic puzzles that exist for their own sake. There's a hint of Riven in the way you explore the world, and it's hard not to make comparisons to Tengami, the upcoming angular papercraft world that unfolds around you.
Set in 19th century Sweden, the game is a surreal journey through a bleak forest full of bizarre creatures and peculiar puzzles. Navigation is handled by swiping upwards or downwards whenever arrows glow at the top or bottom of the screen, indicating a route of exploration. The world elegantly zooms back and forth as you navigate between areas, and the game encourages you to explore every nook and cranny in order to discover the clues that help unravel the secrets of this mysterious world.
In a hut, you'll need to wind up the head of a sinister doll until it performs a little dance, pointing out the tapping order of a pair of hooting owls you discovered earlier in your exploration. A surreal horse-headed man appears within a lake, summoning forth absent spirits that you'll need to hunt down through further exploration. Towards the end of the game, you'll need to manipulate the geometric heart of a demonic creature in order to make progress towards the conclusion that comes all too early.
But even once you think you've completed Year Walk, it's not quite ready to let you go. A companion app that accompanies the game goes into painstaking detail behind the lore of this game, and a section of the guide can only be unlocked by decoding the information that's contained within. Only by solving this meta-puzzle will you be able to head back into the gaming app and unlock the true ending of the game - found, in typical Year Walk fashion, within the locked box you discovered at the very beginning of your journey
So Year Walk is much more than a single riddle, wrapped in a single, mysterious enigma. It's an intricately blended experience of puzzles and exploration, with seemingly forgotten clues returning to the surface later on. That those puzzles often unravel in a somewhat illogical order is the only real complaint we have about the game - it's more of a journey through a developer's imagination than a traditional game, and it's a relatively brief experience too.
But if word-guessing games, physics puzzles, and match-three titles have you at your wits' end with the App Store then Year Walk is an essential purchase, even at the relatively steep price of $3.99. Mobile gaming needs to break away from the well-trodden path if it's ever to evolve, and Year Walk represents a bold step in the right direction.
What's Hot:A superbly atmospheric and original title that represents a giant leap for mobile and tablet gaming.
What's Not:It's all over too soon, and the puzzles sometimes lack a logical bite.