When you find yourself standing in front of a house hoisted up by a pair of chicken legs, it may be time to rethink some of your life choices. In Yaga, a Slavic folklore inspired game by Breadcrumbs Interactive, that’s pretty much just the beginning of your journey. With devils, monsters and witches impeding your path, you may find that the toughest challenge of all might be, finding a wife?
In Yaga, you play as Ivan, a blacksmith that lost his hand to a hungry witch and who just happens to have some of the worst luck. The luck is actually due to a curse, one that exasperatingly leads you on quests given to you by an inconsiderate Tzar who just happened to displease the wrong witch. Ivan is a complex character, and his choices shape so much of the gameplay it’s actually impressive how many choices you will be given as you make your way through the world and your story unfolds. What’s important to take heed of, is that just about all of your choices have consequences, even if you may not realize what those consequences are right away.
Choices and consequences are not story features that are new to the action RPG genre, but in Yaga, these consequences can sometimes be seen immediately and have a direct effect on how your character acts. In one instance, I called out a Devil for impersonating the husband of one of the townspeople. In retaliation, the Devil cursed me, and from that point forward, I began to randomly drop coins as I continued on my not-so-merry way. When you make your way between zones, you are brought to a “fate crossroad” where the fates outline three possible choices, usually based on the day you start your adventure, and based on your choice it could fundamentally change your character, or your rewards.
The game play in Yaga is action oriented, but still simplistic. Gamers who are familiar with hack ‘n slash titles should be able to pick up the combat fairly easily. You essentially have two basic moves which are your bread and butter of combat. You can swing your blacksmith hammer at enemies, or you can throw it and have it boomerang back to you. As you progress through the story you will be able to pickup arm attachments that will aid you in getting through levels, and in some cases, they will aid you in combat. You also have health and stamina to worry about, though stamina acts as a barrier as well, so if you have full health and stamina and you get hit, only your stamina is affected until it runs out. Attacks will also decrease stamina, and dodge rolling stops your stamina from regenerating, so making the right choices in a fight can make the difference between winning a battle, or ending up at the mercy of the fates.
Being a cursed blacksmith has its ups and downs, and one of the major downfalls is that Ivan has a curse meter that fills depending on his choices and the enemies he encounters. When the curse meter reaches full, something bad will happen, such as Ivans weapon will break. Few punishments are as bad as having your best weapon break mid-battle. Luckily, one of the great things about being a blacksmith, is that you can craft new weapons and equipment whenever you need them. I found it important to keep several weapons in my inventory in case my curse meter was high and I was at risk of breaking one. With prayers to dieties, encounters with monsters, and some good ol’ shopping, you’ll be able to obtain special ore and ingredients to imbue Ivan with new powers. Each zone you load into outside of the town is procedurally generated, and is seeded with different encounters. This is important to note as at one point I started a mission, but had to quit, when I returned to the crossroad, everything was different, including the enemies I faced. This does keep game play fresh, and tricked me into thinking I had the upper hand, knowing what was coming, I mistakenly thought I could plan my fate a little better, but that was not the case.
Yaga is a surprising folklore inspired adventure. The old-world superstitions are fun to be a part of, the choice system leave a lot of opportunities to replay the game, and the procedurally generated zones will keep players on their toes even if the combat isn’t particularly complex. For an indie title, Yaga has put together an impressive offering that is worth the risk of a curse or two.
Final Score: 8.0
- Well detailed choice system for great replay value
- Interesting world and characters
- Great voice acting and soundtrack
- Gameplay is okay, but not great
- Some direction assistance would be helpful for quests