Yaga is a charming action-RPG take on Slavic folklore


It beat hundreds of games to win the Nordic Discovery Contest

Mythology, folklore, and video games go so well together. If I didn’t already hold that opinion, then Yaga, an upcoming action-RPG drawing from Slavic culture and stories, would’ve shown me the light.

In Yaga, you play a blacksmith caught between the competing desires of the greedy Tzar and Baba Yaga. You’ll fight creatures, help villagers, and make your way through an “adaptive” narrative.

The team at Breadcrumbs Interactive cited a few notable sources of inspiration, and having played Yaga at Nordic Game 2018 (where the project ended up winning the Nordic Discovery Contest), I think the results showed. The preview build was polished, engaging, and left me intrigued.

The developers looked to Bastion for smooth combat, Binding of Isaac for replayability and secrets, Guacamelee for how it respected culture, and 80 Days for its meaningful-choice-driven gameplay.

I didn’t get to dig too deep into different gear or mess around with crafting new tools, but I had grand old time using a grapple to pull monsters in and follow up with a few swings. There’s a snappy dodge roll — always the first thing I want to know about in action-RPGs — and it feels great here.

During certain moments, you’ll be able to choose how you want a quest to unfold and the system works wonderfully with the folklore backdrop. The trailer does a good job capturing how this feels in-game.

Crossroads are a sacred and magical place in Slavic folklore, where all places and directions meet, and all time fades away. In Yaga, they enable the players to have a direct impact on the game. Each crossroads allows players to make a choice about the next chapters in the story: about what the character does (seek the help of a witch, or face the villain directly), where he does it (traverse a lush forest or a putrid swamp), or how he wants to do it (difficult shortcut or relaxed journey).

While the game is story-driven, it also employs roguelike elements. Here’s how Breadcrumbs puts it: “The level generator selects a balanced mix of roleplaying and combat encounters from a large library of quests and special rooms (merchants, secrets, shrines). These are then laid out following rules based on type of region, dramatic flow, encouraging exploration, and specific narrative goals for that level.”

I only just scratched the surface of Yaga, but I’m curious to see how the character and story progression hold up in a full playthrough where choices are more meaningful than the gut-reaction picks I made in a demo build. It’s hard to get a clear, expansive view of a game like this in the span of just 15 minutes, but I did see enough to know we can expect good things. You can track its ongoing development here.