Review: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (PS4)

Review: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Format: PSN (5.4 GB)
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Funcom
Developer: The Bearded Ladies
Original MSRP: $34.99 (US), €34.99 (EU), £28.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

The developers at the Bearded Ladies describe Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden as “a tactical adventure game combining the turn-based combat of XCOM with story, exploration, stealth, and strategy.”

That description suits me just fine as I gave XCOM 2 a high score back in September 2016 when I reviewed it, mentioning the “undeniable amount of tension in even the smallest of skirmishes,” and I loved having to, “play the odds in each battle and use cover and flanking to your advantage.”

If this intriguing new game can deliver that with real-time exploration, a bleak post-human story, and top it off with a mutated boar and duck then it sounds great.

Gameplay:
When I began Mutant Year Zero, I started out with some real-time exploration, in control of an anthropomorphic boar and duck through a dark and ominous forest. The area is filled with rusting vehicles and skeletons being slowly consumed by the weeds and passage of time. You’re only given a small torch to light the path on the way back to the Ark, their home in this unforgiving and overgrown land.

When you encounter enemies and quickly switch off your torch, the duo will automatically sneak. You can see a slow pulsating circle emanate from each of the unsuspecting enemies and when your characters draw close, the edge turns red.

In my first encounter, I accidentally turned the torch back on and instantly regretted the fumble. The pulsating circle barreled outward as my opponent’s awareness was drawn to the abrupt illumination. With a modicum of luck, I turned off the torch just in time and continued to hide.

One enemy strolled away from the group and I decided to flank his position. When he got far enough away I made my move with the Dux’s silent crossbow. It didn’t kill him but I still had Bormin and his not-so-silent gun to finish him off. The rest of the gang heard the blast and came running, but by that time I’ve got my lot into cover and easily took them down.

You can switch between freely moving about the area or to tactical combat whenever you want, unless you start combat. If you’re spotted by the enemy, you also lose your first turn advantage. The quicker movement by torchlight makes exploring the areas much easier and more natural.

You can freely swing the camera around your team to get the best view of the action. In doing so, most obstructions, like trees and buildings, vanish giving you a clear line of sight. In my experience, I only had a few instances where a highway sign or something similar briefly got in the way. A little nudge of the camera has always solved it.

Avoiding some of the tougher opponents by creeping past is paramount for survival. Plus, it saves wasting a load of health packs and grenades in the hope of an unlikely success. Each victory rewards XP for the team and unlocks some upgrade points. These could be anything from more health to some Moth Wings for Dux.

I’ve probably spent a little too long exploring every inch of the map in search of scrap, weapons, and upgrades. My effort has paid off as I have found a decent haul and some nice loot.

Once you’ve explored an area you can fast travel to it at any time unless you’re in combat, which saves a ton of backtracking. Returning to the base whenever you wish means you can trade the scrap and artifacts for some medkits, grenades, and some juicy upgrades.

I have found some new additions to my team but sadly can only have a maximum of three active. I tend to swap them around depending on the enemies I’m about to encounter. These new characters have really grown on me and I like each one of their personalities.

The story has kept me entertained, I just wish it was a little longer. Most areas could be filled with more enemy camps and I would have loved some random encounters after the story was complete, especially considering I had vanquished every opponent I could find beforehand, all I had left to do was to find the last few bits of scrap I had missed.

Visuals:
Mutant Year Zero is a beautiful game with some lovingly crafted scenery and inventive upgrades. It often makes me chuckle as my team’s understanding of the ancient devices is wildly off the mark but also tends to make sense in a weird sort of way. I won’t spoil any of the descriptions but trust me, take a moment to read each one.

The characters and the world they inhabit are of an exceptional quality. It’s obvious to me the developers at Bearded Ladies Consulting took tremendous care to bring this fantastical and harsh landscape to life. The way in which Mother Nature has begun to take back the landscape is a sight to behold and through it, all around are fragments of mankind’s pitiful last moments.

Most things can be destroyed during combat, either with explosions or brute force from a certain character plowing through the crumbling buildings. The detail in Mutant Year Zero is quite impressive and it’s one of the few that often kicks my PS4 Pro’s fan into a very high gear.

Audio:
The team is a chatty bunch and will often converse about the strange relics and weapons they scavenge. I enjoyed the talk of a “Boom Box,” for example, which has a dangerous red button and can be used to distract with a strange hissing noise, oh and it also features a nice little compartment at the front to store various things.

The enemies in Mutant Year Zero will also talk amongst themselves about their current task or a strange artifact they just found. Plus, they aren’t the nicest bunch and refer to your team with some mean remarks that I won’t repeat.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only and features no online component.

Conclusion:
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a fantastic and succinct experience with a price to match. It manages to blend real-time exploration with tense and exciting turn-based combat that works perfectly to create an addictive and fun game.

The story does a good enough job but it’s somewhat predictable. I would like to see where it goes after, hopefully in some DLC. This is a great start and will easily become a serious contender to the genre crown if the series continues.

I love the characters and the world they inhabit, I just want more of it. What I really want is to create my own mutants and go on new adventures. So I guess that’s the sign of something great, leaving me to heartily recommend this game.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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