by Badger Nimahson
Yaga is a brand new Slavic inspired, procedural generated, action RPG from Breadcrumbs Interactive. While all that sounds ambitious Yaga doesn’t land too far away from getting it right.
In Yaga you take on the role of Ivan. An extremely unlucky blacksmith who loses is arm in a confrontation with a witch whilst out in the woods one day. Ivans bad luck continues until the Tsar sends him on an impossible quest to find strength beyond measure or be exiled form the village forever.
Picking up and playing Ivan is incredibly easy. Left stick for walking, a button press to attack, one to roll, one to use items. Incredibly simple yet effective. This doesn’t mean Ivan is simple though. Oh no.
The majority of your time will be spent in the procedural generated woods. Vibrant, colourful and populated with all sorts of crazy beasts and even crazier people.
The woodlands part of the game plays like a rogue-lite dungeon crawler and is immense fun. Battle is hectic or managed depending completely on your play style. Personally I roll around like a mad man and throw my hammer like i am a Slavic reincarnation of Thor himself.
It soon becomes apparent that your basic weapons won’t fair you too well for too long and crafting is at the heart of this wonderful indie title. One handed or not you are a blacksmith after all.
Crafting again is simple to implement and experimenting with differing items to see what brand new devastating hammers and tools you can create is indeed fun it somehow feels a little basic.
Basic is a theme that runs throughout most of Yaga to be fair. The levelling system gives you perks but due to not having a skill tree it is incredibly difficult to plan a character build to your play style.
You have four character traits ( Righteous, Selfish, Aggressive and Foolish) but how they affect your character and game is never really explained. Same for the three aspects to your character (Body, Mind, Fate) again never really explained and therefore understood.
The biggest (and my favourite) game mechanic to be mindful of is bad luck. As established right from the intro Ivan is incredibly unlucky. So unlucky that hitting enemies can increase his bad luck. Talking to NPC’s and quest givers can even increase bad luck! Ivan really struggles to catch a break. So much so that when your bad luck meter tops out you can end up with anything from losing money to your weapons being destroyed.
This can turn a decent run into a disastrous one, especially when you just crafted a shiny new hammer that stuns and explodes enemies and now it is gone.
Graphically Yaga is an absolute joy. The artwork is striking and colourful. Yet in places such as the village it is desolate and poverty stricken whilst maintaining a sort of comic book/ graphic novel feel.
Complimenting the artwork is a wonderful and sometimes haunting soundtrack. Honestly I am not normally one for game soundtracks but have actually found myself listening to the soundtrack for Yaga while at my desk. Switching from hip hop beats to Romanian folk music it is truly unique.
Yaga is a brilliant example of indie game making at it’s finest. Ambitious, complex and unique. It sets out to achieve so much and actually gets quite close to achieving all of its goals.
I love how nearly every piece of writing in the game rhymes. I love the way you select your modifiers by choosing which answer the witches give Baba Yaga.
The artwork, game play and soundtrack are all spot on. Each play through is entirely different and dependant on your play style giving a great amount of replayability.
My biggest problem with Yaga is the lack of explanation in levelling. i real feel like it was tacked on as an after thought. Same with character traits.
Yaga is a brilliant indie title and could easily become a classic. A little bit more explanation in some areas and it would be perfect.
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