Yaga is an motion RPG steeped in Slavic folklore that tells the story of Ivan, an unfortunate one-armed blacksmith who turns into by accident embroiled in a supernatural beef and finally ends up on the journey of his lifetime. You see the Baba Yaga, that mysterious outdated lady who dwells deep within the forest in a home constructed on hen legs, has positioned a curse on the evil Tzar, convincing him he should rid his land of Ivan – he cannot kill him, lest his empire turns to sand – and so the Tzar sends the blacksmith on a sequence of seemingly unattainable missions with the intention to be rid of him. Sadly for the Tzar, Ivan’s mom – who actually simply desires to see him quiet down and discover a spouse – has a solution for all the pieces and helps her son obtain the unattainable time after time.
It is an entertaining arrange, backed up by some wonderful voice-acting, and Yaga’s roots in Slavic mythology, its splendidly curious solid of human characters, menagerie of twisted creatures and thumping Romanian people/dance soundtrack give the sport a particular character that manages to raise proceedings within the face of some fairly common fight, pedestrian stage design and a handful of mechanics based mostly across the selections you make throughout your playthrough that do not work in addition to they need to do.
Selection, you see, is Yaga’s central hook. The alternatives you make as Ivan at each level in your journey have an effect on the end result of his story and outline his character. There are 4 personalities to imagine right here: righteous, aggressive, egocentric and silly. As soon as you’ve got outlined your self in one in every of these inflexible classes, any responses you give in dialog with NPCs – or actions you’re taking as you make your approach by the world – which do not occur to suit your designated character will elevate your dangerous luck. Unhealthy luck is visualised as a purple bar on the prime of the display which may also be raised by equipping a talisman, accepting blessings from monks or benefiting from the magic of native sorcerers. As soon as your dangerous luck tops out you may be set upon by an evil spirit who’ll rob you of some gadgets and, often, no matter weapon you’ve got at present received geared up.
In idea, this mechanic is sound; nonetheless, in follow, it is complicated, unattainable to keep away from and does not even actually have that a lot of an precise impression, because it seems. Irrespective of how onerous we tried to keep away from elevating our dangerous luck by making selections that conformed to our character, refusing to put on charms and avoiding monks, we nonetheless discovered the sport would make selections that might power our dangerous luck gauge to rise. Maybe some priest or different NPC we might helped would mechanically bestow a blessing or miracle upon us, or we might eat some magic bread to heal our wounds after battle and that might kick it up a bit. Ultimately, it did not matter, as merely unequipping weapons we did not wish to lose when our dangerous luck maxed out stopped them from being misplaced to us, so the destructive impression was negligible. It is a disgrace that this attention-grabbing concept wasn’t explored and applied correctly, because it might have added actual weight to selections you make in your journey.
Alongside this badly-designed mechanic, different destructive facets start to build up within the type of some fairly old style and primary core gameplay and exploration. Fight in Yaga is unspectacular within the excessive. You may have a hammer for smashing enemies which you can too throw – with none actual accuracy – and you may roll round and hook-shot out of the way in which, however and that is actually about it. Ivan’s blacksmith skills let you make numerous variations of your hammer to combine issues up a bit – you may craft one lined in hearth or spikes, or one which slows down time when it connects with creatures – however total, the fight stays the identical from begin to end. A talisman or appeal may allow you to roll additional or dish out (or take in) extra harm, however the circulation of issues stays disappointingly samey and enemies will both be fired at you in easy-to-beat teams or insurmountable hordes; there is not any actual rhythm, aptitude or tactical thought behind how engagements play out.
This aspect of the sport is additional hampered by very simplistic stage design. When you’re exterior of the small hub village space, you are funnelled alongside procedurally-generated branching paths which wind by forests, fields and different generic areas, sometimes discovering your self locked down as gangs of enemies materialise; beat them up and the boundaries are eliminated and also you proceed in your merry approach. It is all very pedestrian and is just saved by the entertaining conversations you might have with the assorted kooky NPCs you may meet in your travels. Certainly, the writing and totally voice-acted script are an actual saving grace right here.
A single playthrough of Yaga will take you within the area of round six hours, which is fairly quick, however it is a recreation which is designed particularly to be performed by a number of occasions with the intention to see the assorted outcomes to Ivan’s story that end result from making totally different selections as you play. It’s very to the credit score of the writing and voice-acting that, within the face of the gorgeous underwhelming gameplay, we did discover ourselves eager to complete the story and return for a second serving to to see how a lot modified after we took a distinct strategy.
There’s an important sense of humour to proceedings right here too, which, when mixed with the delightfully stylised graphics and that borderline creepy, Brothers Grimm-lite folktale ambiance, make this a recreation that is simply enjoyable to sit down by, no matter its numerous shortcomings. The solid of yokels you meet as you consistently defy the desires of the evil Tzar will cost you with all method of ridiculous duties, whether or not or not it’s discovering some corn for an enormous hen so it strikes out of your approach, doing errands for a farmer so he’ll provide you with his sweaty headband or rescuing a speaking goat – who’s truly a priest – from his captor. There is a refreshingly unique vibe to Yaga that is nicely well worth the value of admission, as long as you are keen to forgive its gameplay shortcomings.
Yaga has luggage of character and advantages drastically from being steeped in fantastically atmospheric Slavic folklore. It is well-written, options plenty of excellently-delivered dialogue and has a fantastically kooky sense of humour, all of which helps to hold it alongside despite its bland stage design and run-of-the-mill fight. The alternatives you make as you play by Ivan’s journey do truly have an effect on proceedings sufficient that the entire thing warrants multiple playthrough and, if you may make peace with that fairly nonsensical dangerous luck mechanic and uninspiring gameplay, you may discover a enjoyable little journey right here that includes a solid of characters who’re nicely price spending a while with.