Calling Year Walk a horror game may be a tad misleading for most. You’re not shooting monsters or running away from monsters or being eaten by monsters when you fail to shoot them or run away from them. You’re just going for a midnight stroll through a haunted Scandanavian forest on New Year’s Eve, in order to get a glimpse into the future, because ghosts or something. What else would you be doing during the countdown?
While it sounds like regular video game wallop, year walking was a legit practice in the 19th century. Well, so the story goes. Basically, Swedish folk would fast for 24 hours in a dark room, then walk through the local woods and towards the village church, so they could see what the next 12 months had in store for them. During their walks these people would often encounter supernatural beings; some brought them harm, while others brought good fortune.
Developer Simogo has you interact with this unnerving point-and-click in very interesting ways – a pen and paper is a must if you want to make it to mass – but the use of old Swedish tradition is what’s really compelling. Admittedly, it might be my own ignorance, but I knew nothing of Årsgång (the Swedish word for the folk tradition). When I’d finished the game I was Googling non-stop to learn more. Growing up in Ireland you hear countless old stories, like Fionn mac Cumhaill accidentally having a taste of the Salmon of Knowledge and Sétanta blasting his sliotar down the throat of Culann’s hound, so it’s a joy to learn about folklore from other countries.
As good as Year Walk is, I’m still waiting for a developer to make a game about The Children of Lir. Untitled Goose Game was quite popular, so I don’t see why a video game about a man’s second wife turning his four children into swans out of jealousy wouldn’t work.