Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Review: Tactical Turn-Based Combat Just Got Better

written by Joshua Bouie

Post-Apocalyptic stories have been done to death over the years. For that reason, it is vital that any new venture into this genre brings something interesting and unique, to set itself apart from the masses. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden has set a monumental task for itself by attempting to tackle this genre and also go toe to toe with tactical turned based giant XCOM.

Mutant Year Zero is an adaptation of a pen a paper role-playing game set ina post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear weapons. Humanity is all but extinct, the few remaining survivors take shelter in the last safe haven, a place known as the ARK. Humans and mutants live together here striving for a peaceful existence, occasionally the strongest among them are tasked with venturing outside the walls of the ark for supplies. The ARK requires resources to sustain life, and these resources can only be found in the Zone, the area outside the walls of the ARK. Mutants and humans come together to explore the wilderness under the guidance of the Elder, the last human withknowledge of the past.

We follow the story of Bormin and Dux, a boar and duck (human hybrid)two mutants who are tasked by the Elder to search for the ark’s engineer a man named Hammond who has left the ark in a hurry for unknown reasons. The two discover that he is searching for a mythical settlement know as Eden, where humanity may thrive without the difficulties or dangers of living on the ARK. Eden is considered to be nothing more than a myth among mutants, so the two aren’texactly convinced that Hammond has not lost his mind. They embark nonetheless on a journey to find him and answers.

MutantYear Zero’s gameplay is split between two styles: real time exploration, and tactical turn based combat. The former encourages you to explore every area of this gorgeous world, finding scrap (the games currency) equipment, and exceptionally done environmental storytelling, while the latter is similar to XCOM but with a unique spin.

The world of Mutant Year Zero is absolutely beautiful and begs to be explored. Environmental storytelling is done exceptionally well here, with letters left to loved ones and destroyed schools, ghosts of the past world do an amazing job of grounding the experience. Characters in your group will often comment on items you find or locations you discover, which helps contextualize things and gives insight into the world you’re exploring.

The combat system is a lot like XCOM where your characters can take cover, utilize high ground, flanking positions, and use special abilities during combat turns. What’s unique to Mutant Year Zero is the real time stealth. As you approach enemy positions you have the option to scout around picking of stragglers with silent weapons dwindling down the enemy numbers, or straight ahead guns blazing.

This leads to tons of different approaches, for instance Bormin plays like your frontline tank and Dux prefers to snipe from vantage positions. The majority of the world is destructible, which adds to the strategy. It pays to be aware of what your characters are standing on or behind. There is nothing better than having Bormin charge through a wall and completely flatten an enemy on the opposite side.

After each battle, players will get a certain amount of mutation points. These points are used to unlock combat mutations as well as stat improvements. Mutations, which are skills used in battle, are divided into major, minor, and passive, only one of each can be equipped at a time leading to some interesting strategic setups.

Performance wise the game ran flawlessly via the PlayStation 4 Pro, with literally no framerate dips or crashing at all. This kind of impeccable execution is extremely rare now a days and a joy to experience.

Everything considered, Mutant Year Zero is an absolute gem in a year filled with excellent titles. With an interesting new take on a post-apocalyptic setting and an effort to move a stagnant genre forward, this is a title that should not be missed by fans of tactical turned based games.

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