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YAGA  £11.39  VERSUS EVIL Publisher  BREADCRUMBS Developer  YAGA Video

 

20 years ago my wife, son and I were in an horrific car crash. We were rather broken up but we all got out alive. "Wow!" say people looking at the photo of the smashed car, "you were lucky!" IVAN the Blacksmith is cursed with this kind of extremely bad luck. Even when he is lucky it isn't the type of luck most folk would desire. Like the time he dodged the huge axe swung at his head, it missed his neck but took off his arm - lucky?

 

YAGA is a highly amusing black comedy of Slavic origin. There is almost non-stop action that continues as Ivan takes on one mission after another, often to complete one on his way to completing another - you know the type; do this, find that and I will tell you where the hidden item or next location is etc. No one will help you without you first appeasing them in some way. For example, Grandma wants some stronger sewing needles. As a Blacksmith you can make them, but first you need to find the necessary enchanted iron. Grandma also wants you to find a wife, and is never remiss at taking the opportunity to tell you this, in fact she works it into the conversation everytime you talk with her.

 

Mainly side-scrolling, but with some freedom of movement, Ivan sets out to find/achieve whatever is on his 'to-do' list. He can chop his way through spiny barriers using his Blacksmith's hammer, or jump and roll over lower spiky vines using his natural ability. This hammer can also be thrown at enemies (it goes farther the longer you hold down the button) as it automatically hits and returns to him, or it can be used to strike down hard, dissipating adversaries as they are hit - only a few of them drop anything that can be regarded as loot.

 

The controls for the game are not 100% instinctive. WASD will move Ivan, E will allow him to interact and M will bring up a minimap - very useful as you can move Ivan on this map, making it easy to guide him next to the Village or his campsite.

A main instinctive key, 'I' doesn't bring up the inventory as expected. It took me trying almost every key to find the character sheet and his backpack and then it was only by luck, at least in my game, because the game and my Viking 2 keyboard don't seem too keen on each other - I often have to press the required Key several times for it to react onscreen. This is frustrating but it is probably the fault of my PC and setup not the game.

 

Ivan is taken to meet the Tzar and is ordered to come back only when he has 'Strength Beyond Measure' for the Tzar. Ivan is told he should speak with the wisest of Witches, Baba Yaga, to understand what the Tzar wants. He is told to ask Baba Yaga for the location of the 'Magic Apple'. Of course he has to find Baba Yaga before he can ask her anything.

She lets it be known that she will meet Ivan if he can bring her a 'Wormy Bone' and some 'Poor Man's Sweat' so off he goes again on a quest to find things that will lead him to someone (or something) that will give him another clue towards his main mission.

 

Overall this is a fun game. It is filled with colourful characters, excellent graphics, smooth animations, good voice acting and (for me at least) a mostly awful soundtrack of Romanian hip-hop - it's not awfully played or produced or recorded, I just ain't a fan of hip-hop, Romanian or otherwise (personal opinion only).

Ivan's actions have consequences throughout the game. Where he goes and what he does influences his reputation, the road his story takes, the possible ending of this tale and his Blacksmith's skills. He carries an automatic anvil with him so he can forge new weapons and items wherever he is. Before I realsied this I ran back to the Village and Ivan's hut to forge a new Hammer. This was annoying, having to leave where I was to run all the way back, but of course had I realised about his pocket anvil ......

There are times when the use of magic is available to Ivan, and it can be a very valuable asset, however magic comes with quite a high price; it affects Ivan's luck factor as each time magic is used Ivan's Bad Luck is strengthened.

Classic adventure with deadly foes, disarming (pun intended) combat, puzzles that often have more than one way of being solved, and multiple endings which mean that this can be played over again with similar encounters arriving at different points and with different solutions. Each time you play you will find many different places and ways to explore your options and customise Ivan's character, but never fear. his Grandma always wants him to find a wife!

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015