Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a turn-based strategy role-playing game in the vein of X-COM and even the original isometric Fallout games just with a little change in the fact that you can free roam until you need to get into combat. This game is based around the tabletop game of the same name which has gone through multiple revisions through the year.
The game starts out by filling in the backstory, you are survivors of the red plague and a nuclear war that has wiped out most of humanity on Earth. The few that survived have mutated into something new. You play as Bormin (a Boar) and Dux (a duck) who are two stalkers that go out into the Zone scavenging for as much scrap, weaponry and parts as possible in order to keep the Ark running, which is a fortified tree house essentially.
After completing the training mission and returning to the Ark both Bormin and Dux are told to go after another stalker, called Harmon, who is gifted at repairing technology. Without Harmon the Ark will fall to the Ghouls who are attacking it regularly. Harmon has gone off in search of Eden, a place that hasn’t been touched by the plague or war. Now, this is all I want to say about the story so as not to ruin some of the fantastic elements that come into play later in the game.
You spend a large portion of Mutant Year Zero with only two members in your team but there are other teammates that you can pick up along the way. Each has their own mutations and abilities that become extremely useful within the turn-based combat setup. The combat itself is fantastic. Unlike the aforementioned X-COM you can split up your team, putting them at different vantage points across the map you can get the best positioning when trying to conquer the Ghouls and later on in the game the Nova Sect. Stalkers can be hidden across the map and as long as the other characters don’t see them you can plan an ambush whenever you want. There is one specific level where you have to be as sneaky as possible, so strategy is key because there are loads of enemies around and as soon as you alert them you are screwed in that battle. The fantastic thing about this game is the environmental storytelling. For instance, while Bormin and Dux are wandering around they come across many ancient things, relics that are left over from before the war. At one point they come across a slide and a Child’s play set which Dux asks Bormin if the ancients are all shorter than him. Just simple things like that make this game very special.
The gameplay is fantastic and with each ongoing minute the game gets better and better. The two leads do an excellent job of the voice work which genuinely makes you care for the main characters and worry about their survival in this messed up world that they live in. The music and environmental sound are also great, making the game flow so freely. Just take some time out, stand there for a moment and watch the world go by.
Mutant Year Zero was a day one release via Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service so I know a lot of people probably have missed this or just haven’t given it the chance it so rightly deserves. It is one of my favourite games of the year and the complete package. No, I haven’t finished the game 100% yet but I have spent nearly thirty hours with it and that has certainly cemented my opinion of it. Having said that, it is not my number one favourite game of the year. That accolade goes to God of War but this is second on my list for game of the year and definitely tops my Xbox list.
This is a superb game that deserves more rapture than it is getting. The game is slickly done and considering this is the team’s first game (the bearded ladies – which is made up of ex-employees of IO interactive) you can really tell that a lot of time and love has been put into Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. I for one am going to get through this game 100% but I wanted to get the review finished and published so maybe I can help get more people to play this wonderful, wonderful game.
P.S. – I urge you to please give this game a chance, a chance to get another one in the franchise and one that I truly think this deserves!
Beard Score: 9/10
Xbox One Essentials:
Platform: Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 04/12/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Adventure, Strategy
Developer: The Bearded Ladies