Review – Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden hit shelves on Tuesday, bringing a pen and paper RPG (roleplaying game) to PC, PS4, and Xbox One as a tactical strategy game with some notable twists.
The first – and most notable – of the twists is the roster, comprised initially of talking duck/man and boar/man mutants named Dux and Bormin, respectively. There’s no character creator to give you a built-in attachment to the characters like XCOM uses, instead the development team at The Bearded Ladies use pre-made characters that you’ll genuinely become attached to. Dux and Bormin play off each other with on-the-fly dialog constantly, provided you keep them both alive, and that continues as more party members are added along the way.
The second twist is the gameplay’s seamless means of combining real-time exploration and stealth with turn-based combat. Players explore the post-apocalyptic overworld at full-speed, running around with a flashlight on to highlight the scrap metal, gun parts, and other goodies that can be collected, but when enemies are near tapping a button switches over to flashlight-off stealth mode which allows players to position their characters prior to initiating combat. Depending on how many party members are involved and how many enemies are in the area, gamers can be called on to set up everything from complex ambushes to simple firing lines that end combat in a single turn – but be careful not to be seen prior to executing the ambush or it can all fall apart in seconds.
With skill trees to unlock and a wealth of loot to acquire and upgrade with attachments and other enhancements, Mutant Year Zero has a lot of depth to explore. Some characters, like Bormin, are combat focused and the center of attention. Dux, on the other hand, I outfitted as my sniper – using his unlockable ability to fly to get to prime sniping spots prior to combat.
The game’s three difficulty modes offer something for everyone, and if there’s a need for more difficulty turn on Iron Mutant mode. This disables manual saving and introduces permadeath so you can lose party members permanently if you’re not careful. It’s an unforgiving mode, but also rewarding to those who can handle the pressure.