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Yaga

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Yaga Game Poster Image
Short, folksy fantasy tale with mild combat, player choice.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The story, based on Slavic mythology, suggests that we make our own luck through our decisions. Even if there are greater forces guiding us, we have the ability to either accept or work against their wishes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ivan is generally well meaning and courageous, and he doesn't let the loss of one of his arms get him down. Dialogue choices allow players to shape his personality to a degree, making him appear smarter or dimmer, naive or funny, or more or less helpful. When it comes to confrontation, he won't back down from a fight, but he also sometimes goes out of his way to settle things without a hammer.

Ease of Play

The controls for movement and attacking are straightforward. Enemies are surprisingly challenging, but go down easily enough once players learn their patterns. The trickiest thing may simply be figuring out how to follow clues provided by non-player characters to find objectives.

Violence

Players use medieval style weapons to hack and bludgeon enemies ranging from monsters to giant chickens. Foes flash red when struck, with occasional blood spatters that quickly disappear. The action's cartoonish and viewed from a raised perspective, which limits the impact of combat slightly.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Non-player characters are depicted drinking and drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Yaga is a downloadable action role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Apple Arcade, and Windows PCs. The game's based on Slavic folklore starring a one-armed blacksmith who's down on his luck. He fights a variety of creatures and villains using his hammer and a handful of other medieval-style weapons, whacking at enemies and occasionally causing them to bleed a bit. He's generally a pretty good, easy-going, well-meaning guy, but player choices in dialogue can make him seem more or less intelligent, funny, or helpful. Some of these choices also affect how situations play out, and whether or not he uses force or a clever response to resolve some problems. Parents should also be aware that a handful of characters are depicted both drinking and drunk.  

User Reviews

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What's it about?

Based on Slavic mythology, YAGA puts players in the role of Ivan, a blacksmith who has come under a spell of bad luck. First he loses an arm, then he's called before a king who, in an effort to thwart a witch's curse, sets Ivan up with a series of quests that are designed to make him fail. Despite these woes, Ivan is of remarkably good cheer. It helps that he has a pretty trusty hammer (among other weapons that he makes himself) that helps him get out of problems. He can also use other means -- such as magic items and clever responses in dialogue -- of overcoming obstacles and defeating monsters, but indulging these options may also increase his bad luck, which may eventually cost him his life, and -- potentially worse -- some of his hard-earned gear. The experience is more or less evenly balanced between chatting with non-player characters, exploring the small but colorful world, and fighting enemies, with occasional interludes spent using collected resources to craft new weapons and gear. The player's choices in dialogue, upgrades, and dealing with obstacles will alter both combat and how the story plays out.

Is it any good?

This game is at its best during its less action-packed moments. Yaga's story has plenty of novel twists and turns, from a witch that seems to be guiding Ivan's fate to using the concept of bad luck as a play mechanic that influences just about everything. It helps that the writing is often laugh-aloud funny, and that the surprisingly ample voice acting is top notch. Running into and talking to new characters is a treat rather than a burden, and seeing how Ivan deals with problems, from attempting to satisfy a king with unrelentingly unreasonable demands to dealing with his grandma, whose primary interest is ensuring Ivan finds a good wife, is rarely less than entertaining.

Other parts of the game aren't quite as satisfying, though. Combat, while simple and fun to start, eventually grows a little tedious. There's a nice selection of gear to choose from, but battles tend to boil down to attacking with your best weapon -- which usually means Ivan's hammer, which we can use as both bludgeon and as a thrown implement -- and rolling through hazards and out of the way of incoming attacks. And while the bad luck mechanic forces you to make some strategic decisions in how you choose to react to situations, in combat it tends to nudge you away from experimenting with potentially useful stuff, such as magic items, which cause Ivan's bad luck meter to fill. But happily the relatively short playtime means that these issues probably won't become too frustrating for most players, many of whom will likely choose to play safe the first time through and then be a bit bolder on their next campaign. Yaga may not come together as seamlessly as one would hope, but there's still plenty of enjoyable play here for anyone looking for a lightly humorous, choice-driven RPG (role-playing game) with a creative visual style and setting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Yaga affected by the options to solve problems without violence? Do you think pop culture tends to ignore non-violent solutions in favor of entertaining audiences with action and spectacle?

  • Is there a point in continuing to attempt to accomplish an objective even when everything indicates you will likely fail? Is there anything to be learned from experiencing failure?

Game details

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