Reviews - Updated on April 8, 2022

Baba Yaga more and more often flies in her mortar beyond the borders of our Slavic world and becomes a common joy. There was an addition about Yaga to Rise of the Tomb Raider, Keanu Reeves, an orphan from Belarus, received the nickname Baba Yaga in John Wick. And recently, a game has appeared where we, in the role of Ivan the Fool, under singsong folklore in Russian, fight with water and goblin, run away from the evil Lich, look for rejuvenating apples for the father-tsar, communicate with the same grandmother in a hut on chicken legs and periodically pray to altar to Svarog or Perun. But it was not made by the former authors of Golden Mountains or Prince, but by the modest Romanian studio Breadcrumbs Interactive, which previously specialized exclusively in mobile content. On the other hand, Slavic mythology is quite close to the Romanians, and they avoided the pernicious influence of the old Russian RPGs for obvious reasons. Therefore, apparently, Yaga turned out to be an excellent game.

Go there, I don’t know where, bring something, I don’t know what

So, in Yaga we play as a blacksmith named Ivan, but whether he will be a fool or a righteous man, greedy or evil – it depends solely on our actions. At the very beginning, we can say for sure that we are simply Ivan the loser, and even one-armed – after meeting with Likh, he runs around with a stump.

It is this, the most unfortunate Ivan, according to the old prediction, that can bring trouble to the father-king. Therefore, he decided to get rid of our blacksmith in the old royal way, namely by sending him to carry out seemingly impossible tasks. Either bring a golden apple to gain a heroic strength, then find an elixir of youth, then go to distant lands and find a wife, and one that is more beautiful than the sun (and she turns out to be Marya Morevna, known from fairy tales).

The titular Baba Yaga and her witch friends help Ivan to make the impossible possible. But, of course, not for nothing. First you need to find gifts for her, and after finding a golden apple, for example, she will ask you to give it to her, and slip a fake one to the king. How to proceed, we decide for ourselves. In case of refusal, Yaga will not devour our hero and will continue to help, but will obviously hold a grudge. No wonder the game has multiple endings…

Good luck, loser!

Non-linearity is present in everything. In general, Yaga is an action / RPG with roguelike elements, so each new visit to a location where we have already been defeated takes place a little differently than before. That is, the basic story events will be the same there, but the side random encounters and the architecture of the map itself will change.Yaga game review

You can pray, make offerings, purify or even attack the pagan gods (more precisely, their statues), but you never really know how it will turn out.

And there are many events. Then one midday ghost will ask to kill her same dead sister, and she will tell a completely different story and ask, on the contrary, to unite them and find a suitable body for this. Then we will meet a frightened child who stole a necklace from a witch and is now numb due to a curse. Then the parents will ask to save their children, who were locked in the church by an overly righteous priest who does not believe in pagan rites. Or we’ll catch a pike ready to grant one wish.

Often in such cases, choosing what to do, Ivan the loser, ironically, must rely on luck. But besides, in the story, and in side quests, and in random events, we constantly choose replicas that, conditionally, correspond to aggression, stupidity, greed or righteousness. And thanks to this, the outcome can also be different – either immediately rush into a fight, or try to settle the matter peacefully, or make a good deal. In this way, you can choose who to beat, or, conversely, avoid battles – even with some bosses.

Create your Ivanushka!

Depending on which replicas in these four coordinate systems we choose more often, the character of the protagonist gradually develops. As I said, he can be the classic Ivan the Fool, Ivan the Virtuous, Ivan the Greedy Ivan, or Ivan the Evil. And this is not just a title – it opens up different branches of talents that can be selected upon reaching a new level and passing through important locations. Greedy has access to skills that allow, for example, to heal with every penny collected or to inflict more damage, the more money we have in our pockets. But the virtuous Vanka will be offered a choice of perks with names like “My flesh is pure!” (+1 Constitution) or “Help me and I’ll help you!” (15% discount at merchants).

Moreover, if yesterday you were Ivan the Greedy, and now, thanks to other answers, you have become Ivan the Fool or some other, then past skills will remain with you. Thus, it is possible to develop quite flexibly and form a truly unique Ivanushka.

We also influence the outcome of upcoming story missions, our own or enemy characteristics, and the fact that we choose what day and what time of day to go on a mission. On Saturdays, after each fight, Ivan heals for free, at night the enemies are weaker, and so on.

Yaga game review

The characters often speak in verse – it turned out cool and atmospheric, although Alexander Sergeevich is far away.

Why do we need a blacksmith? Needed!

The performance of our Ivan also has a strong influence on the equipment, which is given special attention in Yaga. First, weapons. Our blacksmith carries an anvil with him and very often he can create a new hammer for himself using different types of ores and metals. And those give different effects that allow you to repel enemies, scare them, freeze them, temporarily lure them to their side, cause bleeding, deal more damage to some specific types of opponents, restore some of their health with each hit, and so on.

In addition to the main one, there is also an additional weapon (more precisely, gadgets), which we attach with a prosthesis to Ivan’s cult – well, almost like Nero from Devil May Cry 5. This is a grappling hook, which, in addition to long-range attacks, allows you to quickly move over long distances, in including those inaccessible in the usual way, and a sickle, which not only mows down several enemies around at once, but also allows you to cut a passage to a chest hidden in the thickets. There is also a shovel – with its help we can dig up important objects, and even covertly move underground. True, who needs stealth here is not very clear.

In the forge, items are allowed to be disassembled into ingredients, and if you improve the anvil using the collected materials, you can increase the chances of getting useful bonuses when crafting (including from pagan gods) or saving important artifacts when disassembling items. No less diverse and useful effects are given by talismans – the same fake (or real) golden apple or golden egg from a famous chicken.

By the way, there is one very fabulous way to get something valuable: when moving between locations, you can chat with a raven, feed him bread and ask him to bring a useful item. True, this (and not only this) can cost not only bread or pennies, but also body parts of killed enemies and monsters. Yes, Ivanushka is not at all squeamish here …

Yaga game review

We fight in different climatic conditions.

Famously they are us, however …

The problem is that Ivan is something we have a loser. Therefore, no matter who he is – a fool, a greedy man or a righteous man, no matter what he puts on, Famously pursues him constantly.

It happens like this. By choosing lines in conversations that affect the character of the hero, using magical items (and these are almost all consumables), receiving blessings, and even, it seems, simply beating enemies with our overly magically pumped weapons, we increase the level of bad luck (Bad Luck). And when the indicator reaches the desired level, Likho will appear out of thin air after some time and, right in the battle, will break our beloved, recently created hammer that smashes everyone with lightning, or steal the very talisman, thanks to which we restored health with each blow. Therefore, you should always carry and craft spare hammers with you and try not to throw away, sell or offer talismans as a gift to the gods.

Yes, with a high level of bad luck, we get more experience, but this is a weak replacement for some very cool weapon or artifact. Therefore, in many cases, we have to choose neutral answers that do not affect our luck in any way, and use consumables as little as possible.

Yaga game review

As in the third “The Witcher”, here you can find several grandmother-hedgehogs of an unpleasant appearance at once.

The deceptive lightness of being

It really invigorates and complicates the game, which before that could seem too easy. In fact, she always acts on the principle of “lull vigilance, and then hit with a butt on the head.” That is, here you are going through the location, scattering everyone, quickly rolling, flashing enemies behind their backs with the help of a grappling hook, smashing everyone with valiant blows of a hammer or sickle, retreating in time to strike from afar. And then a couple of running attacks from simple boars or some kind of ogres – and now you need to urgently retreat, there is a healing bread, which is equated to a deficit here, and thereby increase the level of bad luck.

There are also evil bosses – a bear with a balalaika, a water one and others. Not all of them cause serious problems, but some (Likho, for example) will definitely make your evening stop being languid and become nervous.

After dying once, we will be allowed to resurrect with half health or use a special item to summon the same bear with a balalaika. If this does not help, we will respawn in a safe place, having lost and broken some of the equipment.

Dodges and ranged attacks often come in handy in dangerous situations.

***

In all this, including in humor, irony and drinking men with red noses, one can feel the very Slavic flavor for which many people love The Witcher series. The level in Yaga, of course, is different – it’s still a Romanian indie, not a Polish AAA, but in general everything is done surprisingly well. Drawn and voiced – too. And what kind of music is there – a very cool mix of singsong Slavic (with obvious shades of Russian) folklore, electronics and even rap. The only pity is that the melodies are often repeated. The gameplay does not bother you, even if Likho offends you once again, making you feel like a real loser. I would like to finally find this one-eyed creature and explain everything with the help of a sickle and a hammer. In general, a colorful and very sincere game turned out – Russian connoisseurs of the genre simply do not have the right to miss it.

Pros: intriguing story inspired by Russian folk tales; colorful setting based on Slavic mythology; many tasks, as well as random meetings, where we are free to do differently; unusual role-playing system; vigorous fights; the unique concept of Lich, which pursues the unfortunate hero; useful craft; an abundance of objects with different properties; excellent musical accompaniment.

Cons: in battles, it is not always convenient to control the character and move around; the balance of difficulty is not always evenly distributed.

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