Year Walk – the perfect way to spend a New Year's day?
After losing way too many hours to Cut the Rope a few years ago, I decided that modern games for mobile devices are all time sinks that only reward grinding and/or paying. But a few months ago I found myself in a not-so-exciting business hotel in Beijing with absolutely nothing to do for the evening. I figured that I have to keep up with whatever it is the kids are doing these days, right? So I entered “best iPad game of the year” into Google, not expecting much.
To my surprise the very first game I stumbled upon, Year Walk by Simogo, turned out to be one of the most compelling gaming experiences I’ve had since I was a kid.
It’s a very different adventure, centered around an ancient Nordic/pagan practice called the year walk (årsgång in Swedish). From the Year Walk Companion app:
Year walking was at its core a vision quest with the purpose to foresee the future. […] it seems to have been a widespread practice in Sweden until the beginning of the 19th century and in some rural areas as late as the beginning of the 20th century. A year walker could not partake of any food or drinks […], had to avoid other people […], and where not allowed to see a fire for the entire day. […] If the year walker followed these steps he would leave his dark room at the stroke of midnight—this would be his last chance to cancel the year walk. Once he ventured out there was no turning back.
Even though I’m a Swede I had never heard about this before, and I think few people have (though most Swedes will probably recognize at least some of the many mythological characters and phenomena that occur in the game).
I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks that mobile gaming is only about angry candy birds, or driving cars and shooting at stuff.
Some notes and tips if you decide to play it:
- I found it quite terrifying! (beware if you are playing with kids)
- Some parts are tricky, but it’s worth the effort. Give it time. Practice patience.
- Keep a pen and paper handy, and take notes and draw a lot (you will need to remember many details)
- Set aside a whole evening, cozy up in a nice armchair, dim the lights, and put on headphones (or turn up the volume, if you’re playing together with someone)
- Once you’ve made it through, make sure not to miss the follow-up story in the Companion app (you can only access the locked parts of the Companion after you’ve finished the game)
Happy year walking!