A Walk With YiaYia (Granny in Greek) is a game that a specific gaming audience will really treasure and that audience is the carer generation. If you’ve got a parent or grandparent that requires your families support to be cared for, you’ll find a lot of relatable ideas in this game. We don’t hear about the elderly in gaming, nor caring very often too and so this game feels quite unique on many levels.
You play as a grandchild who is talking YiaYia out for a walk around the block. She’s lost her confidence from a fall a few months back and is now mentally and almost physically housebound. After much cajoling you take a slow walk around the block for the games’ 90 minute runtime. During that you’ll have conversations about her life, your life choices, worries about the short and longer term future and ruminate on a life lived now becoming smaller and smaller. You can hold YiaYia’s hand throughout and walk together which was a lovely touch and whilst you’ll mainly be walking and reading there are a few flashback and vision moments that allow you some very light Simon Says puzzling and a bit of platforming as a plane or grasshopper. It’s a slow paced game but that’s the point and towards the end as you return home, you’ll feel like you know YiaYia better and understand her points of view much better.
I’ve been caring for my dad whose had a very slow and laboured recovery from colon cancer this year and so A Walk With YiaYia really hits home. Much of the last 8 months has been working with him to build up confidence and physical ability to take his life back again. Its something we still have a to and fro on weekly and its very difficult to hear someone talking about why they don’t want to carry on anymore – especially when they’ve got a chance and others aren’t so lucky. Whilst A Walk With YiaYia doesn’t veer quite into these murky depths in detail, there’s some subtle undertones of the story that I could absolutely relate with as this walk feels like a cliff edge of life reclamation or just giving up. Of course, the answers are always in the grey and I appreciate the way how the game deals with it. The majority of the story deals with flashbacks to key moments in YiaYia’s life that determines what she remembers and what she doesn’t. When you’ve lived a full life, its those moments that define you and she has no problem talking about these to give her a rest on her walk.
With simple monochrome graphics, easy controls and a simple to read story with minimal barriers to completion, there’s not much ‘gameplay’ here but you are controlling characters. It’s like a walking simulator crossed with a visual novel and considering the game is about walking I’m glad I controlled the characters on their journey. Its sentimental, emotional and definitely had me projecting my own experiences into the mix but that’s why it works so well. This won’t cause the pulse to race or interest gamers looking for action. YiaYia is for gamers looking for a reflective 90 minutes of storytelling that will make you think long afterwards.
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