Yaga launched yesterday to surprisingly little fanfare. The game is available across PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and I’m ashamed to admit that until now I hadn’t heard of it. The game is a charming action roleplaying title, and it’s got a few twists on the genre that sound like they’ll have players far more engrossed than many others out there, particularly those chasing the cheap thrills of huge Dark Souls bosses. Have a look at the launch trailer for the game below, and read on for some more information about it.
The story in Yaga is one of the aspects that makes it pretty unique. Ivan, the protagonist, is a one-handed blacksmith with some of the worst luck in the world. Players will find Ivan caught between trying to complete some impossible tasks for the Tzar, avoiding a witch who wants nothing more than to manipulate him, and his grandmother who wants to see him married. The world is steeped in Slavic folklore, and just from looking at the trailer you can see how beautiful both the world and the enemies in this game are.
A core part of Yaga, and what makes it unique, is that player choices will affect the way they progress. We’re told that through roleplaying we can build a reputation with the locals, and that will unlock secrets, open up new trading options, or give Ivan some game-changing curses or blessings. I can’t wait to see how these blessings and curses work in the game, and I’m sure that they’re handed out depending on the choices players make, and whether those choices are to the benefit or detriment of the locals.
Pagan beliefs and superstitions are a core part of Yaga. Hidden secrets will be unlocked by paying attention to Pagan lore, and House Spirits, which I can only assume are the giant treehouse monsters we see in the trailer, will side with Ivan if he abides to Pagan beliefs. It’s also said that in order to avoid the curses of the unclean beings of the land, we need to think about Pagan superstitions as well, which I can see leading players into some mad situations just to avoid a simple health debuff. The lore even extends to the games soundtrack, which features the underground folklore band Subcarpati.
Keeping with this same theme, players will be combining artifacts and talismans that will change Ivan’s abilities, and drastically alter the gameplay of the current area. I really love this sort of player-altering system based on in-gam items, because it forces you to choose between key powers that might make or break the next area or boss.
Players will face crossroads between levels that will determine the difficulty of the next one, as well as influence the level generation of the next area as well. I can see there being a mechanics that will cause someone a problem just to provide an advantage to players, if they choose a certain way at the crossroads. I can also see this mechanic being used to influence the loot in the next area, which is something I love fighting with myself about in games.
As a blacksmith, Ivan can craft and upgrade a number of weapons and tools that players can use to defeat enemies, or help them along their way through each area. The fact that players will be crafting these suggests that the world will be part of showing players which items they can craft and when, creating a form of progression that will end with the most powerful items.
You can find out more about Yaga on the game’s official website here.