Developed by: The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Published by: Funcom
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
What the “duck” is Mutant Year Zero?
Here, watch the trailer first if this is your first time learning about this game.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all humans and some mutants take shelter in The Ark, humanity’s last outpost to keep them safe from the outside world. Outside of the wall is a wasteland called “The Zone” where Scavenger Ghouls roam around hunting and killing innocents.
You are part of a special group of people called Stalker aka Mutant and are sent out to The Zone to explore and scavenge resources back to the Ark to keep humanity alive.
In a similar vein as classic turn-based strategy game XCOM, but differentiates itself with added free exploration to scavenge resources such as scraps, gun-parts, and artifacts that are scattered around the map. What makes the exploration interesting is how stealth mechanics come into play.
Players can strategize plans and tactics on how to engage the enemies before entering in combat mode. Either engage the enemies head-on or explore and pick off patrols one by one by using silent weapons as it won’t draw other enemies attention.
The non-stealth option is definitely viable but you don’t want that to happen as it is easy to get surrounded by groups of enemies. If a group of enemies include the Shaman, expect a bad time as they will sound the horn requesting for backup and three Butchers will spawn and try to flank you. Even on the easy difficulty do not expect it to be a walk in the park as things can easily go wrong without proper planning and execution.
One of the features in Mutant Year Zero which I think does better than XCOM is whereby if your Stalker ambushes an enemy only that particular Stalker will be revealed to enemies with the rest of your team still undetected. Long time players of XCOM know that once detected, the whole team is then exposed to the enemies.
While players explore the wasteland collecting scraps, gun-parts, and artifacts they will stumble upon other Stalkers as well. A maximum of three Stalker can be deployed in combat with the other recruited stalkers remaining in reserve.
Players can swap between Stalkers under the squad options depending on each situation required as each Stalker has their own unique abilities to use in combat. What I do find interesting about the abilities is that it is not an automatic cool down by turn but instead it is charged by how many enemies are needed to be killed (required number of killed enemies are shown in the skill tree).
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As players explore into the darkness of the wasteland, mists surrounding the maps, birds scattering as you approach the area, amazing snow effects and the light flare reflection on water and between trees are superb all thanks to Unreal Engine which brings out the best in the post-apocalyptic environments.
Minor details when exploring empty areas or buildings are layered properly for the ease of player discovery including viewing where the enemies and valuable items are. Ambient sound effects from the environment and the Stalker’s themselves are fantastic especially when setting up an ambush.
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A mixture of stealth, tactics, and RPG elements together with a cast of interesting mutant characters with great voice acting and welcome real-time exploration makes Mutant Year Zero especially interesting.
There is so much joy in exploring the map in real-time, planning an ambush against the enemy and gearing up with specific armour to resist the enemies attack. Sadly the game does have some missteps as well with a short campaign, a low number of weapon choices. I felt that melee weapons or sniper rifle (silent type) should have been included and a version of an endgame weapon (silent type) as well be made available for the player. This is because when fully upgrading weapons the only difference is the critical rate and damage with minimal changes to the base damage of the weapon itself. So that feels unsatisfactory.
Overall the game was fun and I definitely can recommend this game to tactical strategy fans around the world.