We’ve all had our share of bad days but Ivan, the main character of Breadcrumb Interactive’s new game Yaga, has had the kind of day that goes far beyond being bad. You see a foul creature named a Likho felt like having Ivan arm for lunch and that has left our blacksmith in need of hand (literally). This new action RPG has you helping Ivan through one case of bad luck after another and while it isn’t much fun for him it can be fun for you.
The whole world of Yaga is based on Slavic mythology. On top of losing his arm Ivan also has to take orders from the Tzar who is the ruler of the land. This Tzar has been cursed by a witch named Baba Yaga and because of it he presents Ivan with one near impossible task after another because well he basically hates him. You’ll also meet Ivan’s grandmother who will provide help to him but also wishes he would find a nice lass to marry and settle down with. The story and characters you meet in the world are all interesting and fun to talk to in my opinion. All of the characters have voice acting which also helps bring more personality to them and make them even more interesting. The game isn’t overly long as it took me around eight and a half hours to finish it. Even then though there are reasons to go back to it as there are different dialog choices you can make that will lead you to different endings. That’s so long as you can overlook some of the faults the game has and find yourself wanting to keep playing.
The world of Yaga is full of varied locales. Environments in the game range from snowy mountains, forests, and swamps and they are all randomly generated. Traversing this world isn’t very fun though and can feel like more of a chore due to the slow movement speed of Ivan. You’ll be covering a lot of ground in this game and it was frustrating to me to deal with the slow pace that Ivan moves at. In fact it can be faster to employ the dodge roll move that Ivan has but it’s kind of silly when you have to roll around the world to get where you need to go at any good rate of speed. As for what you’ll be doing in this world it will be a lot of different quests given to you by the characters in it. You’ll also fight plenty of enemies while moving about the locations.
Having good combat in an action RPG is important and sadly Yaga just doesn’t deliver on this front. Ivan has a hammer that can be swung at enemies and honestly it can get the job done for you through the whole game just by mashing it over and over. You can also throw and recall it just like a certain thunder god. You have access to a few other types of weapons too but I rarely used them because the game didn’t make me feel like I had to which is disappointing. Considering Ivan is a blacksmith you can also forge tons of different weapon combinations with the items you find in the world but again I didn’t really feel like I needed to. That all goes back to the regular hammer working well enough to get you through the whole game. Another reason you might not want to waste your time crafting certain items is because of Ivan’s bad luck that is actually a gameplay device.
You see you have a bad luck meter that will gradually fill up when you receive blessings or magic. Another thing that can raise it is making dialog choices that don’t fit your personality. Any time you talk with someone the kind of responses you give will assign you one of four different personality traits and when you make choices that don’t match it then up your bad luck goes. Once that meter is full Likho appears and takes armor, weapons, and gold from you. That means that something you just spent time crafting can then be gone in an instant and that just isn’t very fun. I can understand what the developer was going for a risk/reward system here but the whole bad luck mechanic just irritated me more than anything.
The Romanian soundtrack in the game is performed by a band called Subcarpati and I quite enjoyed their music. It can get a little repetitive at times but for the most part it was enjoyable. The hand-drawn art style of Yaga is nice to behold at times but you can also tell this was a game made for mobile devices originally. Animations are weird at times and the world is just lacking in detail in some areas. That isn’t to say that the game is ugly because it isn’t as you can tell from the screenshots here but rather it just isn’t as impressive as games with similar art styles. Trophy hunters out there will find 43 of them in Yaga including a Platinum. You’ll have to likely finish it more than once too as several of the trophies look like they come from different dialog choices and endings.
While the gameplay in this action RPG isn’t in top form and the whole bad luck thing is really annoying Yaga does have some redeeming qualities. The developer crafted a world that is brimming with Slavic mythology and filled it with varied and interesting characters. They were the highlight of this game to me and having them all voiced acted and done well at that just made it better. You don’t see that as much in an independent title so I really thank the developer for including it. If you can look past the gameplay problems you can easily get a couple different playthroughs in with this unlucky blacksmith.
*Yaga is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Well realized Slavic world that is full of varied and interesting characters
- Conversation choices change how the game ends and present replay value
- Very enjoyable soundtrack and great voice acting for the characters
- Bad luck meter is not fun at all
- Combat is too simple and doesn't encourage you to make use of your other options
- Slow movement speed makes exploring the world a chore