Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden Review
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a new strategy RPG looking to make a name for itself. Does the game do enough to claim a stake in the market today, or should you just stick with X-COM? Check out this review to get our thoughts.
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden Review
Mutant Year Zero has you playing as a pack of Mutants called Stalkers in a post-apocalyptic world. At first, you are just searching for salvage and supplies to bring back to The Ark. The Ark is the last bastion of civilization in the world…as far as you know. When you do get back to The Ark, you are asked to find Hammon, a fellow Stalker who has gone missing. Hammon is the one who repairs The Ark when it breaks down, so he is needed if you are to survive. Upon finding Hammon’s shack, you read about him searching for a place called Eden. Compared to the wasteland, Eden is a paradise full of life and safety. Your Mutants are torn on the truth of this Eden, but still continue the search for Hammon.
The game is divided into two main sections: exploration and combat. Combat plays a lot like X-COM, or, to a lesser extent, Final Fantasy Tactics. Taking cover is essential; if you end your turn out in the open, you will be shot. Unlike X-COM though the chance to hit only goes in chunks of 25%, giving you a perfect (100%), good (75%), okay (50%), or terrible (25%) chance to hit. If you are behind cover, the enemy has a harder time hitting you, but they can still flank the player. Outside of guns, you can use grenades and mutations on your turn to destroy cover or prevent enemies from moving. The combat is more forgiving than X-COM, but you can still lose characters permanently if you let them bleed out.
You only start with two Mutants on your team: Dux and Bormin. As you progress, you find other Stalkers who will join you. Each of them has different mutations and skills suited for different playstyles. Selma, for instance, can root down enemies, preventing them from moving for a turn. Bormin, on the other hand, can boar rush certain enemies and knock them out for a turn. Every character has some form of crowd control, and has an area of combat where they excel. Some are more suited for stealth combat, while others perform best with a shotgun at close range. There are enough Mutants and mutations to allow you to play the way you want without too much trouble.
There is one caveat to playing how you would like, as stealth is required at times. I don’t mean sneaking between enemies and waiting in cover until they pass you. Rather, I mean stealth kills without alerting the rest of the enemy team are necessary. If you can find an enemy alone, you can engage them alone and try to take them down before they get a turn. If you do this, they are down, and you have one less enemy to kill. If you fail, they will alert the rest of the enemies, and you have a massive fight on your hands. Early on, this is a straightforward thing to pull off, but enemies get so much HP later it becomes much more difficult. Later on, you have to factor in crowd control as well as silenced weapons to pull it off, and if one character misses, you are busted.
The main reason you need to play stealthily is because of how difficult it is to heal in the game. There is no inn at The Ark to heal you up; instead, you need to use Medkits, which are rare or expensive to buy. Medkits do not heal you fully either, so you might need to use multiple. As stated above, if you lose a character, they are gone for good. A couple of Mutants can self-heal by eating corpses, but this doesn’t extend to all Mutants. On easy, you will self-heal every level, so it isn’t as bad, but normal and hard are much less forgiving. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if the enemies didn’t have so much HP later. When three Mutants stealth attacks a single enemy and everyone hits, that enemy should be dead. Unfortunately this stops happening at around level 20 though and you either forced to save scum or take unnecessary damage.
While exploring the world, you are looking for three main things: equipment, salvage, and weapon parts. Salvage is the game’s currency, and weapon parts are used to upgrade your weapons. Back on the Ark, you can buy supplies, new guns, grenades, and mods for your weapons. Attaching mods to weapons is free, and all of them can hold a sight and a barrel attachment. Your weapons look sort of like makeshift guns when you first have them. After you use weapon parts to improve them, they will do more damage and start actually to look like real guns. There is also a Bar where you can get passive buffs by trading in old technology you find while exploring.
One other thing I want to talk about is Crit Chance. In most games, this is optional and usually provides a nice bonus upon landing a critical hit. In Mutant Year Zero, however, I’d say it is required. Critical hits will get you more damage, but can also activate certain things on your weapons. Your barrel attachments can literally disable opponents from a critical hit, and that is a massive advantage in this game. Robots have a lot of armor, but if you use the EMP attachment and crit them, they are offline for at least two turns. It isn’t possible to get everyone’s Crit Chance to 100% without certain items and mutations. I had a problem with this at first, but when I started taking the high ground and changing up mutations, it worked very well. Just know that this can be frustrating at times.
I did run into a couple of bugs during my time with the game. Sometimes after a fight, my character wouldn’t be able to leave cover until I reloaded my game. The game saves after every fight, so it isn’t a massive problem; just an annoying one. Sometimes when you destroy cover, the enemies fall through objects. Thankfully, they can still be killed in this state. I also had a couple of crashes, and both of them were about halfway through combat.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden provides an exciting take on the strategy RPG genre. Fans of X-COM or similar games shouldn’t skip this one.