Year Walk Review

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[Contributed]

Time travel is a tricky subject, and it can be pretty hard to present a plausible exploration of how it might be achieved, and how it could affect the rest of the world. There have been many games that tried to present their own twist to the tired old time travel trope, from all the way back in 1980 with Time Traveler on the Apple II to, of course, the ever-popular Bioshock: Infinite. Time travel is an incredibly complex and nuanced concept, and it often entails more plotholes and more than the average level of suspension of disbelief for a game to successfully implement it as a primary device within the storyline.

This is, perhaps, the first achievement that Year Walk accomplishes. Year Walk is a mobile game developed for the iOS and played best on the iPad, with a disturbing story that unravels beautifully with rich graphics and an even more immersive and haunting soundtrack. Although not the first of its kind to use time travel in its story, Year Walk presents the idea to the player by melding it with Swedish lore. Because of this, players immediately give a bit more leeway to the game, and this allows developers to add in fantastical elements without seeming over-the-top.

Although available on PC and Mac via Steam, it’s the iOS version of the game that truly shines. Gaming Realms, creators of mobile gaming portal Spin Genie, says that games now account for more than 50% of global smartphone usage, and that user installed bases for tablets and phones have exceeded those of desktop computers and laptops. This usually means that many games are forced onto the mobile platform, as developers see it as the next frontier in game development. Unfortunately, these games then suffer from a variety of problems – most commonly: crippling controls, and a sorry lack of immersive elements.

Year Walk changed the game entirely, showing just what games on mobile platforms could do. Intuitive controls require the full use of multi-touch screens, with some puzzles requiring that you hold an item down with one finger while you navigate the area with your free hand. It’s also not uncommon to find yourself having to flip your device around to solve a puzzle – elements that are clearly lacking from the PC version of the game, for obvious reasons.

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The game also comes with its own Companion App (a game that has elements of time travel, and has a “Companion”… where have we heard this before?), which presents the player with information on Swedish lore. At first, you would think that this being called a “Companion” app, it would be an optional download, but as you progress through the game and reach its final stages, you’ll realize that the Companion is more important than it’s been played out to be.

This presents one of the few problems with the game: it’s easy to get stuck wandering back and forth in the map trying to figure out what to do next, only to realize that the Companion app held the answers. In the same way, it can be annoying to switch back and forth from the game and the Companion app as you try to read up on the elements you see in the game.

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And when we say read up, we mean read up. Spoilers aside, you will be reading some rather lengthy blocks of text as you struggle to tie up loose ends and further unravel the mystery surrounding your Year Walk. It can be quite tedious, but without reading these bits of information, the game would be a fairly short adventure, and for $3.99, it might seem a bit pricey. It’s definitely not a game for people who want to rush through and destroy beautifully-rendered 3D environments. It’s more of a quiet, reflective piece that thrives on getting you to think.

This being said, Year Walk is a superior game – perhaps one of the best on the iOS platform. It shows just what the mobile platform is capable of, while creating a plausible, immersive experience for the user.

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[*This is a contributed post, and does not represent the thoughts or opinions of Epic Brew.]

About the author:

Arthur Ball is a computer science graduate who is also a keen sportsman. When not playing online games he enjoys nothing more than playing amateur football at the weekend for his local team.

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