Since its announcement, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden had me intrigued. Not only did it have the turn-based combat I love so much, similar to that found in the recent XCOM games, but it also featured an anthropomorphic duck and boar.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is based on a Swedish pen-and-paper RPG that depicts a post-apocalyptic Scandinavia where resources are few and humanity is forced to take refuge in a place called the ARK. From here, groups called Stalkers are sent out to explore The Zone for scrap and other valuables. Of course, as with most post-apocalyptic settings, the Zone is filled with all kinds of dangers, from malfunctioning robots to bandits and even feral mutated dogs. It is a place where you should always have your weapon ready and primed.
The world of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is filled with strange mutants…
The world of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is filled with strange mutants and, as you can guess, both the grumpy Bormin (the boar) and wisecracking Dux (the duck) are two of these mutants. They form part of your starting squad of Stalkers. Along the way, you will discover more characters to join you on your journey.
Unfortunately, your squad size is limited to only three. And while I do understand that part of this decision was to nudge the player into using stealth rather than just going in guns a blazing, I would’ve like if the squad size could’ve been increased.
While on the subject of stealth, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden takes a bit of a different approach to the turn-based combat that I was used to. In games such as XCOM, players can try the sneaky approach but more often than not, when the crap inevitably hits the fan, players were still able to battle their way through a mission. Here, being sneaky is almost a prerequisite to ending up with your enemy’s blood on the ground instead of yours. Where XCOM dropped you into the fray, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden places you in an open area to explore in real-time. You’ll be able to find all kinds of resources and, more importantly, come across various enemies.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden takes a bit of a different approach to the turn-based combat…
Upon discovering a group of enemies or an encampment, the player can freely sneak around in order to get the lay land and see where all the enemies might be. This is very important as knowing what awaits you even before the first bullet gets shot is crucial. Once a player has surveyed their surroundings, they can then activate “ambush” mode. Basically, this places your characters in combat mode and initiates turn-based combat – the secret being that the enemy is still not aware you are there.
As soon as the player is discovered, the game enters turn-based combat. Once enemies become aware of them, things can quickly take a turn for the worst as Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a difficult game, even on its easiest setting.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a difficult game, even on its easiest setting…
That said, it’s important to note that the game isn’t just difficult for the sake of being difficult. Through its difficulty, it actually forces the player to think strategically. Do you split up your team leaving them vulnerable to bleeding out? Do you take out the enemy with the ability to heal others first or do you take out the biggest and most heavily armoured one first? Do you just circumvent the area entirely and forego the sweet loot and XP? These are some of the questions you will have to answer if you want to survive The Zone.
While your group of Stalkers aren’t very good at taking loads of damage, they do have some abilities on their side to help them along the way. These abilities are called mutations and include Dux’s ability to grow moth wings for a turn and gain a height advantage or Borman’s stone skin ability which helps him shrug off a few more bullets than usual, to name a few. Along with the weapons, customisation helps players to create a group of Stalkers that complement each other and, more importantly, can successfully take on their foes.
The post-apocalyptic world of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, which is lush, green and striking, is an interesting one. Although the writing is good and even funny at times, the story does tend to be a bit predictable.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden might tell a predictable tale but its innovative turn-based combat, likeable squad of mutated characters and interesting setting makes for an enjoyable experience. It’s not quite perfect as it does have some rough edges and can feel a bit repetitive at times but it’s thoughtful combat encounters goes a long way in remedying these shortcomings. I truly wish that we see more of this rag-tag group of unlikely heroes and the strange world they inhabit.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
If you like turn-based combat and would like to see a duck wield a crossbow then Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is just the game for you.
- Strategic combat
- Interesting group of characters
- Interesting world to explore
- Predictable narrative
- Small squad size
- Can feel repetitive at times
Sound and Music