It’s always interesting to see a game that is inspired by a certain mythology, especially if it is not a very popular mythology, and Slavic mythology is not so popular as Greek or Egyptian. The fact is that not a lot of people are familiar with Slavic mythology. Some of the super popular games, such as The Witcher franchise, tried to introduce this mythology to a larger audience.
Now, a small indie studio named Breadcrumbs Interactive takes that risky step with its new game, Yaga, which is not only based on Slavic mythology but is also set in the environment typical for Slavic countries, and NPCs and main characters have traits also typical for people from those countries.
Yaga tells the story of Ivan, an old blacksmith with really bad luck. He lost one hand because he thought that there is no such thing as bad luck, and since then, everything goes wrong for him. Even though his grandma constantly encourages him, and pushes him to find a wife, Ivan simply doesn’t know where he belongs, where he’s going and where he wants to be. Because of that, he’s looking for challenges in order to prove everyone his worth. And of course, to show that there is no such thing as “luck”, that everything is a result of hard work.
Unfortunately, Yaga is a part of Slavic mythology, and she makes obstacles for any person who wants to have luck, so in this mythology, “luck” does exist. The problem is that Ivan simply doesn’t get this, he simply doesn’t believe.
Yaga, disguised as a homeless person, decides to visit the king in order to ask for some bread, but the king being the way kings usually are, throws her out. That’s when Ivan gets his purpose. As predicted by Yaga, the king’s rule will end precisely thanks to a blacksmith with incredibly bad luck, and that’s the exact description of Ivan. The king spends days, weeks, and months in search for this incredibly unlucky man in order to banish him from the kingdom, and he finally finds him.
The best solution, or that’s what the king thinks, is to give Ivan an impossible task that will get him out of the country, where he will get lost, and, in the best possible scenario for the king, die. However, Ivan is stubborn because, as told in the beginning, he doesn’t believe in his bad luck. This task is the beginning of Ivan’s adventure.
Yaga is an isometric hack & slash title with small RPG elements in character development. What is very interesting is that it is set in a time when Slavic Mythology ruled in a certain unknown country. Everything reminds of Slavic villages, culture, stubborn people and music that has the tune of modern day creations.
Everything works great, looks beautiful and sounds good. Every step of the way, whether you hear Ivan's overconfident voice or communicate with a peasant, there is a smile on your face. Each dialogue rhymes with the previous one, and all of it is accompanied by old Slavic music of flutes, laments and so on. The game sounds awesome and it plays brilliantly.
During your adventure with Ivan, you’ll be able to help the people you encounter, even though they have a lot better luck than you. With each completed task, you’ll get something that will help you with your mission.
The great design of those side-tasks is reflected in the fact that some of them are connected, so if you accomplish them all, you will get better and bigger awards. Even though it all may look disconnected, everything is well thought out and connected, and that’s why each completed task gives you some personal satisfaction.
As time passes, Ivan is going to get things that will help him be better at fighting bandits and monsters from Slavic mythology. His missing hand will be compensated with a great weapon, similar to that from Sekiro. With this, you increase your agility and speed in fights, which you will need in the later parts of the game.
Since Ivan is a blacksmith, he’ll get across raw materials, and he can use them to make better weapons and tools for himself, which will come in handy. Of course, there are combinations you would never have thought of that will give great results, and that’s what makes this game unique among the abundance of uninspiring Indie games.
Yaga is an Indie game, but it is one of those that are really well done, and it has a precise target and story. It doesn’t try to be something it is not, but it relies on this peculiar mythology with incredible myths. In combination with easy and flexible gameplay, this is one of those games that you should definitely try out, and when you do that, you will probably spend a few hours in completing it. I played it on Nintendo Switch, and I give it 8/10.