Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Review PC
key review info
- Game: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Some would say that X-COM is the father of the turn-based strategy genre, mostly because every new game that tackles the same genre is influenced by Take-Two's cult franchise. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is no exception, although it would be totally unfair to say that it's an X-COM ripoff.
Mutant Year Zero is quite unique, not just because it masterfully blends turn-based strategy and real-time stealth elements, but also because of the setting and characters. Many of you probably didn't know (I for sure didn't) that the game is based on the Mutant Year Zero tabletop RPG featuring half human half animal mutants, psionics and other weird forms of life.
In this particular case, the folks at The Bearded Ladies chose to depict a post-apocalyptic Scandinavia (if you're living there, you'll most certainly recognize some locations). Although it's quite light on the story and lore, Mutant Year Zero delivers a surprisingly solid experience from the beginning to the end.
The game definitely encourages experimentation since you can't approach every fight the same way. Mutant Year Zero can be an easy game, but only if you find the right strategy for every encounter, and that's what makes it interesting.
Mutant Year Zero is set in a post-apocalyptic world, a few hundred year after the humanity destroyed itself. The Ark is humanity's last safe haven in world that's been ravaged by a nuclear war and a deadly pandemic, now roaming with ghouls.
You'll be guiding a team of three stalkers, the only people capable to venture outside The Ark and scavenge for resources and knowledge, throughout a world in ruins that's ruthless with those who come unprepared.
Due to the global nuclear war, everyone was touched by mutations, hence your initial team will comprise a boar and a duck, Bormin and Dux. You've been asked by The Ark's leader to find Hammond, the only person who know how to fix things at the base. Apparently, after finding some evidence, he's taken a team of stalkers to find a fabled place called Eden where people untouched by the plague still live.
You'll pick up new stalkers along the way, each with their own story, but the main storyline is linear no matter what decisions you take the few times you're facing a choice. Under any other circumstances, I would say the story is forgettable for the most part, but in this case, it's what drives you to the end of the game.
Mutant Year Zero is a turn-based strategy game with real-time exploration mode. Basically, you can roam freely on a map as long as you're not engaged in combat. The main takeaway is that you can scout ahead with one of your stalkers and see what enemies you'll have to confront and their positioning or patrol routes. To make your fights easier, it's absolutely mandatory that you take down stragglers using your silent guns.
Just like in X-COM, cover and overwatch are two very important gameplay elements that you should be aware of during combat, but hit chance is an entirely different matter. In Mutant Year Zero, hit chance is calculated by percentages of 25, which means that you won't be able to miss if you have a 100% hit chance.
To spice it up even more, each of your stalkers are able to gain various mutations to help them in battle. You can unlock these mutations using ability points that you gain when you level up. There are three types of mutations that you can unlock – passive, minor and major, but you can only have one of each equipped at any time.
Also, in order to “recharge” them, you have to kill a certain number of enemies, which means that your stalkers may be able to use them more than once in a single fight. But there are a lot more elements that you need to be aware of before engaging in combat.
For example, the weapons present in the game be modded for longer range or more damage. In later stages of the game, you won't be able to take out an enemy in a single round using your silent weapons only, so you'll have to resort to longer range weapons. However, in order to do that, you'll have to position some of your stalker so that their weapons won't be heard by more than one or two enemies.
Of course, you can switch your equipped mutations and your weapons (each stalker can have two weapons equipped) in-between battles to fit your chosen strategy. Depending on the level of difficulty you're playing on, your stalkers will fully heal up once an encounter is over or just half heal. On the hardest difficulty, your stalkers won't heal at all, so you'll have to use the medkits that you find throughout the game or buy them from the vendor in The Ark.
While venturing into the Zone, you'll pick app scraps, the in-game currency that you'll use to buy consumables like medkits or grenades, new weapons, and even mods. And then there's artifacts that will allow you to unlock various bonuses for your stalkers, like more damage added to their weapons or more powerful grenades.
Until you discover all the tricks and the best strategy for each type of enemy Mutant Year Zero is a trial and error process, which makes it even more rewarding when you find a viable solution to a scenario.
- Interesting post-apocalyptic setting
- Charming characters
- Solid combat system
- Great voice acting
- No replay value
- Few technical issues
- Party limited to three stalkers
Even though it draws inspiration from X-COM, Mutant Year Zero felt quite unique to me. The mix of real-time exploration and turn-based strategy elements, as well as the tactical decisions concerning each stalker's loadout, makes Mutant Year Zero one of the best games in the genre launched this year.
The solid combat system, interesting setting and great voice acting, merge into an appealing formula that the alchemists at The Bearded Ladies unexpectedly discovered while experimenting with various concoctions.