- Developer - Simogo
- Publisher - Simogo
- Platform - iOS
- Device tested - iPhone 4
- Price - £2.49
The iPhone is a surprisingly effective platform for scary games. Slender Rising, Shade and, to some extent, Plague Inc. have all set us shivering so far, but none so much as Year Walk, a terrifying touch sensitive adventure game from Simogo.
Drawing inspiration from Guillermo Del Toro and David Lynch horror movies, Year Walk has you playing a lone young man strolling through a forest in search of some mystical key thing. But not all is as it seems. With its flickering screen effects, ethereal movement and cast of surreal creatures, Year Walk is a dark, haunting fairytale which hums with tensions and is packed with jump scares.
You walk around the forest by sliding your finger left or right, up and down on the iPhone screen and solve puzzles by tapping various laid out MacGuffins. These make up the bulk of Year Walk and, as a general rule, are absolutely mindboggling.
An early puzzle sees you find a blood covered old doll in a shed. The game doesn't prompt you, but the solution is to reach out to the screen and swipe until you've spun her head all the way around. Once that's done, she launches into a jerky kind of dance and if you don't note down exactly where she points her arms, you won't be able to open a locked door (inconveniently disguised as a tree) later on.
Occasionally frustrating stuff, but the absolute weirdness of these set-ups is what keeps Year Walk scary, well, that and the visual design. It looks like some tired old reel of film dragged out of a nineteenth century nickelodeon, all crackling screen tears and ragged sound.
And that's just when you're walking around; when you actually come face to face with one of the game's many nightmarish creatures, Year Walk ups the fear factor to 11, loosening your bladder with well-timed jump scares and, if you have headphones on, ear splitting noise. Without wanting to spoil anything that ghost woman in the graveyard is not what she seems...
Scary, challenging and superbly animated, the only downside of Year Walk is its meandering free roam structure. The puzzles are hard enough when you find them, but doing that even can be a challenge. The lack of direction is certainly deliberate and adds to the lost, wandering quality that the game is shooting for. But it can also get quite boring: When you've spent 20 minutes sliding from screen to screen, you can't help but feel a little deadened with boredom and no amount of big frights can jolt you out of that.
Regardless, this is an original, stark and frightening videogame that couldn't exist on anything but the touchscreen interface offered by smartphones and tablets. Available now for £2.49, Year Walk is a must download.
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