Sanya is a nostalgic slice-of-life story set in post-Soviet ’90s Russia. It’s a short and warm point & click adventure about Sanya – a young boy who moves into a new apartment together with his family. We’re shown the day after Sanya arrives at his new home when he discovers a friendly dog that he adopts as his pet, makes friends with the kids around the block and embarks on small childhood adventures with them.

The game succeeds at conveying these childhood memories as the best time of Sanya’s life: when innocence and curiosity intertwine, when ghost stories become real adventures that you have to brave as a rite of passage, or when a simple bike trip turns into a race. A rather subtle education aspect is also present, as Sanya learns to lock the door behind him after leaving the apartment, or choosing between unpacking his toys, as his mother asked him to, or completely ignoring her request. Other times, the game will tug at your heart strings, as we see Sanya being left alone while his parents go to work, with his father being deeply absorbed into his job, thus being able to come home rather rarely.

Just like in classic point & click games, interacting with the items in the game world will either produce a flavor text or allow Sanya to pick up an object needed for a future puzzle. Additionally, a few interactions trigger some simple, yet fun minigames. There is one exception in which the minigame is extremely frustrating, namely a platformer sequence with the most horrendous controls ever encountered in the history of gaming. Not only are they unresponsive, but it’s also very difficult to control the character and stop its movement at the right moment to avoid various traps. One of the achievements will require you to explore all areas of this minigame and collect the star found at the end of each zone, which could take over an hour of repeatedly dying, despite the minigame being only a few screens long, just because the controls don’t respond to your input. This struggle-inducing sequence doesn’t fit in any way, in an otherwise a very casual and relaxing game and since there is no skip option, the only thing you can do is to endure it until you manage to traverse it. The frustration I had after beating it fully was almost enough to turn this review into a negative one. What saved it from that was the overall bright and cheerful atmosphere of the game, outside this particular bit.

The rest of the achievements are a mix of story-related ones and missable ones, the latter being awarded for performing some specific actions. There are also two pairs of mutually exclusive achievements, thus obtaining 100% completion will require you to start (not necessarily complete) a second playthrough. There is no chapter selection and no manual save feature. The game does save from time to time, yet this is not indicated in any way.

Sanya is a nice game (with the exception of the dreadful platformer minigame), but an extremely short one for the asking price of $14.99. It’s true that its art style is sweet and its simple story is calming and might even bring you a smile or two, but considering that one playthrough takes around 1.5 hours at a relaxed pace and that there is close to zero replayability (aside from obtaining those mutually exclusive achievements), I would advise waiting for a deep sale before diving in.

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