Ever feel like becoming a big-brained general (you, the player) leading a ragamuffin band of mutants through tactical turn-based combat, strategizing for success against the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic Earth? Then a niche might just be filled with a little game that fits the bill, no pun intended. Thinking is the game in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden; with some quick wit and careful planning, your whole mutant squad might just survive the hostile world of The Zone.
Game Name: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer(s): The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Price: $34.99 (USD)
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a fun time all the way through from start to finish, engaging your brain with mutations the whole time that’ll keep your game plan fresh and adaptable. Those who are a bit analytical-minded or are in the habit of meticulously planning things will definitely find this game to be right up you’re neural pathways. Imagine playing a thinking game, perhaps chess, but all your pieces are mutants including a humanoid duck and a humanoid boar armed with guns… Maybe a somewhat crude description, but you get the idea.
I’m actually a newcomer to the whole tactical strategy genre, though I found my first experience with this type of game to be very enjoyable. Devising various schemes to deal with different situations that suit my squad of characters and seeing the plan executed emphatically without a hitch is just too satisfying. It’s also incredibly gratifying to force the enemies’ hand with thoughtful planning. Cutting off supports, incapacitating problem enemies, or sweeping a whole group Ghouls under the silent guise of stealth is where it’s at. Pulling off any of these maneuvers will have you feeling like a grizzled commander boasting a 900 IQ, which feels good, at least for me.
Players will be given control of up to three squad members at a time, controlling their movement, positioning, and also actions once engaged in combat. Managing just three characters is a breeze and you’ll never feel overwhelmed with commanding your team, but you may definitely be overwhelmed by swarms of enemy numbers at times. That’s when you’ve gotta implore some thinking and make use of the different abilities that your mutants bring to a fight.
Introducing the RPG elements found within the progression of your character’s skill tree, where unlocking mutations via level ups will surely aid in turning the tide of battle. The mutations are fun gimmicks that further the potential for creative strategy. Consider the ability or mutation “Moth Wings”, which enables a character to fly to an upper layer of the playable grid to gain higher ground for more sure-shot accuracy; perfect for enemies well-hidden behind cover. Or even mutations that hinder enemy movement by locking them into a fixed position for a few turns like Thelma’s Tree Hugger ability which summons roots to the surface which entangle and bind targets.
Approaching an enemy encounter with precision planning and execution is where all the satisfying fun comes into play. There are many possible paths to take during a firefight, such as different routes, character placement, ability usage, weapons, and target priority which all offer a multitude of different scenarios to work with. So…get crafty with your strategizing and mutate your way of thinking to make the most of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.
And there’s more to the battlefield than just merciless bloodshed, why, there’s also loot to scavenge for too! Staying on the lookout for scrap metal or weapon parts is essential if you want your mutants armed to the teeth with best of the best in regards to guns and items. And you might also stumble upon weapons and armor accessories to dress your squad to best suit the situation at hand. On the topic of exploring the dangerous landscape for loot within The Zone…
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden’s visuals and presentation do a fine job of capturing an apocalyptic world wrought by plague and desertion. The various environments don’t really vary all too much, but the settings certainly create a general feeling of traversing a raw and gritty place indifferent to your survival. Overgrown plant life, abandoned buildings, decaying relics of modern civilization, and dangerous locals wanting your head on a plate. Everything needed for an apocalyptic Earth is here and accounted for.
And while the visuals most certainly get the job done, they seem a bit cut and dry. The quality of the graphics isn’t really an issue, but the art style comes off as somewhat lackluster; nothing really jumps off the screen in a visual manner. I’d just like some more oomph to the overall look of the game in terms of the art direction. Again, I personally think the game looks good, it’s just missing that edge, that flavoring that makes a game visually pop.
What does look great are some of the playable character designs, specifically referring to the anthropomorphic Dux, Bormin, and Farrow. These humanoid, animals have lovely designs that stand out even more than the other cast members because of how much they contrast with the realistic look to Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. I’d say they’re probably the most colorful characters in the game in thanks to their personalities and animal traits, which compliment their looks to a tee I might add.
The sound design within Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden does what it needs to do. Impacts from gunfire, grenades, mutant abilities, and the works all produce suitable sounds that one would expect to hear. There’s nothing to really write home about here, but there’s also nothing to really write home about either.
And as for music, it’s mainly just atmospheric. I personally need some bangin’ tracks in my video games to really vibe with, but Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden gets on well enough without that. Not a huge detractor mind you, but some noticeable tunes to accompany the various regions or specific enemy types would be great. Music can really do a lot for a game, setting the tone for the player, punctuating a scene or event, and just building up general excitement while playing.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a fundamentally solid game, the gameplay elements are absolutely fantastic, and the playable characters are fun as well with their mutant quirks and designs. Everything else within the game is fine, not amazing, but good enough to hold this title together.
I was engaged the whole time, captivated by the gameplay mechanics; the gameplay coupled with your selection of playable mutants truly carries the game. Not to mention a story that remains interesting enough to tickle your curiosity now and again. Overall, this title is worth a buy if you’re looking to wet your palette with a turn-based, tactical strategy game. This was my first ever go into the genre mind you, and I had a great time playing it. So, I can and will recommend this title to anyone who might be considering giving Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden a go.
Happy mutations everyone!
Review Disclosure Statement: [Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden] was provided to us by [Funcom] for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, Using your Noggin to Survive the Apocalypse
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden: Tactical Combat that only a Duck and a Boar Could Manage
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a fun romp through an apocalyptic, post-human Earth, Mutants and all. Engaging gameplay mechanics and room for creativity make this lovely title worth giving a shot. And your brain will surely get some healthy exercise from strategizing victory in this turn-based, tactical adventure and may even undergo a mutation or two.
- Fun, engaging, and satisfying gameplay
- Fun playable characters
- An interesting setting and story
- Cut and dry art style
- An absence of a more pronounced soundtrack