Solo developer Trent Garlipp decided to make me cry on a Tuesday. His upcoming game, A Walk With Yiayia is a deeply personal story centering around one short stroll with the protagonist and his grandmother. Garlipp advised me that the game would take about an hour to finish, and that I should play through it all on one sitting. He was right on both counts. I rolled credits at the 60 minute mark, and the experience would have suffered if I had needed to walk away. But he didn’t warn me to prepare to tackle deep and relatable issues in my own life and relationships. So, consider this your warning.
The title aptly describes A Walk With Yiayia’s scope. Anyone hoping for an action-packed thrill ride will be disappointed, but the gameplay is surprisingly varied. While walking through the neighborhood with my Greek matriarch — who only refers to me as engonós, or grandson — I soar through the clouds as a plane, cut through troubled waters as a boat, play a thoughtful tune on the piano, and jump through the forest as a cricket.
Each of these sequences connects back to a heartfelt theme that comes up during the afternoon’s amble. The conversation between the pair swings between work insecurity in both generations, wildly different childhood memories, and emotionally painful rejections.
The backdrop to all these moments is the reality that Yiayia is growing old. Though it’s evident we don’t have a incredibly close relationship — she vaguely remembers a college I graduated from years ago — I arrive at the house to watch over my aging relative so my mom can take the night off. Learning that she hasn’t gone outside since a doctor appointment weeks ago, I suggest the day’s activity. A walk is a scary prospect for my grandma, as she recently took a serious tumble and her medicine makes her unsteady. However, we are soon out in the neighborhood.
The world outside is aesthetically irresistible. Chunky, nostalgic pixels make up the walkways, houses, and characters around the block. While swaying grass and flowing rivers take a strikingly contrasting 3D form. Everything is pulled together with a black and white color scheme, making it all feel like a memory rather than something happening here and now.
A Walk With Yiayia comes out November 3 on PC. And while that day will see a lot of other launches, I urge you to not miss out on this title.
I recommend this game to:
- Narrative-driven game fans
- Anyone with an hour to spare
- People ready for a game-as-therapy session
- Those who want to support a solo dev
- Players looking for non-violent experiences
- Those looking to get into a pensive mood
- Fans of chef’s kiss, black-and-white visuals
- People who want to stop and smell the roses
- Anyone that misses their grandma