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Games Of February 2013: Year Walk

The strange woods of this Swedish game demand a return trip.

By John Teti • March 20, 2013

I grew up in rural New Hampshire, so maybe I’m a sucker for games where you walk through the woods by yourself. I championed the cryptic, fragmentary reality of Datura last year. Now here I am singing the praises of Year Walk. It, too, is strange, although its strangeness is rooted in Swedish folklore rather than Datura’s drug-induced nightmares. And like Datura, Year Walk invites players to make a return trip. Be sure to download the (free) companion app if you end up grabbing the game from the App Store.

There was some debate at Gameological H.Q. over whether I was correct to refer to the center of a Butterfinger as “peanut butter.” I stand by my word choice for lack of a better term, but it’s not a cut-and-dry issue. Let me know where you stand. The Year Walk segment also led us to toss around the question of whether we’d take a walk that let us see the future of our lives. My answer is yes, if I were able to change my actions based on what I saw. Gameological sister and videographer Jenna Teti says that she wouldn’t want to see her whole life, but she might take a walk that let her see a year into the future. What’s your answer? I know this isn’t as important as the peanut butter thing, but still.

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  • caspiancomic

    Idea: The Reverse Digest. Every month, John Teti and guests have an in-depth tête-à-tête about new and noteworthy snacks, and frame the conversations with little introductory blurbs about bizarre novelty videogames adhering to a semi-relevant theme. I think this idea’s got legs.

    • HobbesMkii

       So, like, they have to talk about some new cake while playing a game? That sounds like a recipe for a lot of dead air.

      • caspiancomic

         No, no, like, in the first two minutes they play a game and commiserate about its awfulness, then Teti lays up a perfect segue into a much more in-depth ten minute conversation about this month’s newest confectioneries.

    • Effigy_Power

      I thought you meant they wouldn’t be talking about games and pulling food out of their mouths. Which would have been weird.

      • PaganPoet

        That sounds like a great final project for an undergrad film student, though.

        • Fixda Fernback

          Or, alternatively, a music video! (See my above reply to Eff)

      • Fixda Fernback

        Video substance is relevant. Video music is fucking awesome.

        http://youtu.be/8yrlw8FuJko

        • Effigy_Power

          Hey, I was right. It is weird.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        On the first episode of “TSEGID EHT,” they will discuss that gum you like. The one that’s coming back in style.

  • PaganPoet

    This game looks really, really cool, and I’m very sad it’s iPad-exclusive. I love the melancholy presentation, the pop-up book art style, the mythology, the premise. It just goes to show that I tend to love Swedish things in general (Robyn, Pingu, Alexander Skarsgaard, etc.)

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Yeah, if Pingu were Swedish, his little beak trumpet would go: “Dee-deep-dee!” instead of “Doot-dee-doo!”

    • fieldafar

      This article (along with the “Fight Club” one) has reminded me of Swedish electronic band Slagsmålsklubben. Thanks, Gameological Society!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y54ABqSOScQ

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Ghost Walk is stunning.  I’ve seen stills, but it’s something else entirely in motion.  To me it kind of evokes  The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a 1926 German film utilizing only thin character cut-outs in a Wayang-style presentation. 
       This has more depth than simple silhouettes, but the filter of flickering light to evoke a hand-crank projector and the Victorian dress does reinforce that Cabinet of Dr. Caligari German Expressionism era of film.
       As for myself, I do not want to see my future.  Even the modest successes of my life feel as ephemeral and delicate as a soap bubble, and in a way, similar to how Orpheus’ doubts caused him to look back on Eurydice and in doing so, lost her forever, I fear any undue scrutiny will cause my good fortune to dissipate.  Because I’m a fatalist.  And a goon.
       
       But speaking of candy, the worst is the big Kit Kat.  That bar had the best chocolate-to-crunch ratio of any candy bar ever made.  They were the best.
       Then one day the labels began exclaiming, “Now with more crunch!”  As if they are honestly trying to present their cost-saving recipe fuck-uppery as a boon and not the destruction of something beautiful it so obviously is.

    • PaganPoet

      That film looks fascinating, thanks for the link. What is the technique there? Stop motion and shadow puppets/dolls?

      Kate Bush had a music video last year in a similar style, but in hers appears to be in real time.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        It’s stop-motion silhouette puppets. It’s pretty great. It’s also the earliest feature-length animated film that you can still watch today, so it’s a terribly important bit of animation history. Which makes it notable that its creator, Lotte Reineger, was a woman.

        She also invented the first multi-plane animation camera (something Walt Disney often laid claim to doing, because he was a self-mythologizing, self-promoting douchenozzle with no qualms about throwing animation history under the bus to promote the Disney brand) for some of the more complex sequences in the film.

        • Fluka

          Prince Achmed is completely amazing.  I got to help put together a screening with live musical accompaniment when I was an undergraduate, and it was definitely one of my top five cinema-going experiences.

          (Man, between this and the Walkabout Reference, this Digest is bringing back tons of wonderful/awkward film society memories…)

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        @Fluka:disqus 
        To bring it back to games, this talented silhouette animator guy I knew back in undergrad, who loved Prince Achmed, made this silly “Herbert West: De-Animator” zombie shooting game that was entirely done in silhouette-style, and with which SOOOOOO many people in the labs wasted SOOOOO many hours ranking up high scores. There are lots of subtle touches – each zombie has a different weakness (and some tactics make certain zombies stronger – like shooting out the legs of one variety turns it into a fast, hard-to-hit crawler), and there are special tricks to taking them down more quickly (like shooting them as they climb out of the ground).

        • Fluka

          Oh that is just all kinds of cool.  I am bookmarking this for later, for when my boss is not spending the day camped out in my office….

  • http://twitter.com/TheBryanJZX90 TheBryanJZX90

    “So, Year Walk, it’s kind of like a walkabout, did you ever see that movie?”
    “Uh, no, but I did see that episode of Lost.”

    We also would have accepted:
    “Uh, no, but I did see that episode of Gargoyles.”

    • Fixda Fernback

      Also:

      “Uh, no, but it is one of my favorite tracks from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album ‘One Hot Minute.’”

  • Captain Internet

    Hang on, I’m not sure I understand this- it’s a game about mythology, but not also about stabbing things and searching for powerful artefacts?

  • Drew Toal

    Not peanut butter.

    • Cloks

      woah there Hitler

    • snazzlenuts

      I agree.  I would classify it as a peanut butter toffee, if anything.

      • Fluka

        Peanut butterscotch.

    • Effigy_Power

      A Digest divided against itself can not stand, my friends. Stop the fighting.

    • Roswulf

       Not remotely peanut butter, which is defined by texture as well as peanut content. By Teti’s crazy person definition, we should be referring to peanut brittle as peanut butter. Just utter madness.

  • missmoxie

    HEY!! Is that my squirrel card tacked up in the background?!!

    • SteveHeisler

      If this is who I think it is, then yes. You shall receive it soon!!

  • Steve McCoy

    1. Peanut butter

    2. Based on the majority of stories where people see their future, I don’t think I’d want to, because they never can change it.

  • OrangeLazarus

    Whoa people from rural New Hampshire can start their own pop culture websites? What am I doing with my life? 

  • Effigy_Power

    Looking into the future is a bit of a double-edged sword.
    First of all, if you can see the future but don’t have the power to change anything, Cassandra-style, then no, thanks.
    If however you do have the power to change something, it’ll probably consume you to do so. We all have bad things ahead of us, that’s pretty much inevitable, and unless you’re Buddha or Top Cat, it’ll probably bother you.
    Nah, I prefer to go through life as informed as I can without messing with space and time thank you very much.

    Now, if we are talking to go back in time in order to avoid social faux pas in 6th grade or something, sign me up.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I would have to bring together a rag-tag team of top scientists, rogue engineers and mercenaries to go back in time to fix all my 6th grade social faux pas.
         It would be akin to extracting the flour from bread.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      I’ve often wished I could go back in time and impart my wisdom on my ten-year-old self. But my ten-year-old self would probably just dismiss me as an assassin sent to stop me from achieving my inevitable glory. (I was a pretty megalomaniacal kid.)

    • His_Space_Holiness

      In a way, all modern video games are about time travel, since the save function gives the player the nearly inexhaustible ability to travel back and forth between points in the past and future, altering actions and experimenting with different outcomes, with a permanent, unchanging present that can be returned to without penalty. That’s the way I’d like to time travel in real life, if such a thing were possible: to dip in and out of my own history, changing this or that decision to see what would happen, while knowing that in the likely event that I screw up, I can always return to where I started and try again. By design, it’s a very friendly and comforting take on the concept, as it literally encourages play.

      Edit: On the flip side, however, in real life it would have the negative side effect of discouraging commitment: if you could freely undo any decisions, would you ever stop questioning those decisions and accept the consequences?

      • Effigy_Power

        I’d still take it. A quicksave slot would have come in handy a few days ago when I accidentally washed my gf’s Samsung Galaxy S2 in the washing machine.
        She was not happy.

        • djsubversive

          Did you make it up to her? And by that, I obviously mean: is her phone dry and functional again?

        • Effigy_Power

          @djsubversive:disqus If by that you mean I bought her a new LG Optimus L9, then yes. It totally worked out. -_-

        • djsubversive

           @Effigy_Power:disqus oh, the industrial-strength drying-solution or whatever it was didn’t work? That’s too bad, but I’m sure she’s happy with a new phone, too. :)

      • Destroy Him My Robots

        I guess that depends on how much replay value your life has. I’m not gonna do the last two years all over again just to collect more receipts to get an achievement for tax deductions.

  • LeGrandSigh

    I grew up in rural New Hampshire too, Teti!  Shire solidarity!