Reviews from

in the past

An extremely unique experience, frustrating at times but very rewarding by the end and as a whole.

Svarog's Dream has a similar open world and leveling system to the Elder Scrolls, with a sort of slower Diablo-style combat system. There are a lot of rough edges -- it's an ambitious project made by a small team -- but there's plenty on offer here to make up for it.

The gameplay is decent. Combat plays out as a much slower aRPG, with a fairly limited number of skills available at a time, and a bit janky balance. It's no Grim Dawn, but it's fun enough. By default, the game is semi-permadeath -- you play as a soul inhabiting a body, and should you die, the soul can move to a new body. Some things are reset and others are maintained, though I managed to survive the full game, so I don't actually know the details. Exploration was quite enjoyable, especially once I started finding necklaces that allowed me to shapeshift into different animals. There's plenty of unique locations off the beaten path, with quests, loot, and everything you'd hope to find. For a game that's happy to let you run into monsters several times your level, the exploration can be surprisingly meditative, with non-violent wildlife, fields of flowers, and a serene soundtrack. Certainly creates an interesting contrast from moment to moment.

While the dialogue and characterization can be clumsy at times, the overall narrative is quite compelling. You become an essential piece in a conflict between gods, which is somewhat of an allegory about the Christianization of Slavic religion. Well, that's my take, at least, albeit a fairly natural one. The game is quite thoughtful, but generally invokes the Socratic method when questions of meaning arise, so it's up to the player to decide what they take away from things. That can frequently be a frustrating approach, but it's well done here, and the events themselves are generally concrete, so I never felt unmoored from the story. That room for interpretation coupled with a surprising amount of play agency throughout, and especially at the end, led to me feeling a lot of ownership over my character's story, in a way that few other games have a achieved.

I went down a rather dark path on my playthrough, and I'm honestly curious how other options would play out. That said, I didn't enjoy the gameplay quite enough to want to do another run, at least not any time too soon. I think I made it through the game a bit quicker than average at about 15 hours, but that was about the right length for me. All in all, though, Svarog's Dream is a unique and thoughtful experience, well worth giving a look.