The intended experience. Like a moth to a flame, this phrase draws me in when deciding the difficulty level of Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden. But, I am not foolish enough to get burnt to a crisp by playing it alongside Iron Mutant on my very first playthrough. And the experience of playing Mutant Year Zero at its hardest difficulty is nothing short of a culinary feast for the brain.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, a mouthful of a title for anyone to pronounce. Hence, we simply called it Mutant Year Zero. Mutant Year Zero is an open-world, turn-based tactical role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic world. It is a world where resources are scarce, knowledge of what the world used to be is forgotten and the human race has largely gone extinct. The rare few that survive, however, mutated in this new world; becoming stalkers.
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden | The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Your two starting Stalkers, Dux and Bormin, were en route for the Ark, humanity’s final cradle of civilization, after completing their routinely patrol while searching for scraps. The more inquisitive players would no doubt explore the lands inch by inch right off the bat. The overgrown flora and Mother Nature claims over men’s construct will reel you in, admiring the game’s apocalyptic atmosphere, all the while encouraging you to explore the map for scraps. But soon afterwards, you will encounter enemies along the way.
Unlike XCOM combat mechanics, you dictate how and when to engage in combat. You may choose to plant your stalkers behind trees, rocks or any readily available covers and lay in wait as the enemy wanders close enough to your position before triggering an ambush. Or the more daring players would just straight-up start a fight just because they can. The explorable nature of Mutant Year Zero opens up these options to you, and if you so desire to avoid combat and just proceed to the next area, that too is doable.
And unlike XCOM combat mechanics, the numbers that laid bare before you stay true to its percentages. 100% means 100%. No nonsense 99% hit chance and that remaining 1% miss chance is the equivalent of a 100% can be found here in Mutant Year Zero. Bringing your guns up close and personal for you to get a good look at your enemy before blasting its ugly face gives you zero room for failure. Failing to kill it though, will have your ugly face exploding next.
Once you have cleared an area, that area will remain to be clear. It’s one of the things that I love about Mutant Year Zero. Enemies that you have bested will not respawn, whereas the ones’ that you avoid still remain. Yet this very notion highlights a single factor; resources are finite.
Every item purchased, every weapon upgrade and the skills you choose must be deliberate. No rooms for error to be held in Mutant Year Zero. No refunds for the wrongful purchases being made. Every combat engagement must be struck with the precision of a surgeon. Otherwise, you will run out of medkit first or scraps to buy them before even making it to the final area.
The scattered scraps and weapon parts all over the map may serve to induce you to explore the area. And the habitual nature to explore for scraps will turn to natural instinct to recon the area first before making any decisive engagement. You won’t notice this subtle change outright, as the first few areas are littered with scraps and weapon parts. But after going through those areas, such commodities become scarce and in turn, you will gain intelligence instead.
This mechanic turns Mutant Year Zero combat into an unintentional puzzle game. A puzzle that requires you to evaluate all known information at hand before committing to any given action. Will you save this lone enemy for later so that you can replenish your skills cooldown? Is the enemy far away from his buddies for you to engage him with your loud weapon? Will you gamble a 75% hit chance with 100% critical hit rate over a 100% hit chance with 20% critical hit? The debate over which combat manoeuvre to execute will certainly set the gears in your brain in motion. This is the intended experience.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is doubtlessly an amazing turn-based RPG strategy game. The story that accompanied the game is but an icing on the cake that’s for your brain. Regrettably, its linear story doesn’t add much to its replayability value. It’s Iron Mutant mode or Stalker Trials mode, an online high-score map clearing segment, however, may warrant you to go at it for another run. But for me, I already had my fill.
Platform: PC(Windows [Played]), Playstation 4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch
Developer: The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Price: $44.99 (or your region equivalent)