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Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden - The First Few Hours in the Zone

A duck, a pig, and a woman walked into a bar...

  • Text: Bengt Lemne
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Dux and Bormin are stalkers, mutants sent out into the Zone to scavenge for scrap and items to help sustain the Ark, a refuge from the harsh realities of this wasteland. If you've seen anything from the game you'll likely already have guessed that Dux is the duck-mutant (or mallard if you want to be specific) and Bormin is the boar-mutant. Some context then. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of Sweden, hence the weird music and funny language on signs. In fact, judging by the signs we came across this game takes place on the west coast, near Gothenburg, the Swedish capital of word puns. Hence the character names, we suppose.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is based on the classic Swedish pen-and-paper roleplaying game Mutant (1984) (which also later spawned the sci-fi version, Mutant Chronicles), and more specifically it's latest edition Mutant Year Zero (2014) which rolls things back in time close to the catastrophe that shaped the world.

As you'd suspect the story is a key component and the narrative is constantly flowing through the conversations between your characters, through notes that you discover in the zone that speaks of what was before, and as you return to the Ark and speak with the Elder. After a few maps we ran into the third member of our crew, Selma, a mutant with more recognisable human features. Having a squad of three really does up the ante in terms of available strategies.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to EdenMutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Road to Eden is not one of those game where you can just jump into combat and expect to do well from there. It's all about the setup. You need to sneak up on enemies and silently take them out without alerting any others nearby because much like in other similar games where you face overwhelming numbers it's not recommended. There's a window of opportunity before you've been spotted where you can hide and then take advantage of the ambush.

The lazy observation would be that it's "Xcom with mutants", but the way the real-time stealth and exploration works, the actual gameplay, even if combat is turn-based, lands somewhere very far from Firaxis' excellent tactical games. We'd say there are bits of titles like Commandos and Desperados in there if you're after a reference point or two.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

One thing we found was that overwatch (where you take your action during the enemy's turn) was largely ineffective if your target is towards the edge of your range, as the odds are just as awful as they would be if you just took the shoot with, say, a 25% chance of succeeding. You need to improve those odds by gaining higher ground or by having a very accurate weapon equipped, but still, turtling and relying on overwatch is not a great tactic as you'll likely miss shots and spend ammo, forcing you to reload more often (wasting your action points). What's good about overwatch not being an easy path to success is that you need to be a little more aggressive. Another mechanic that feeds into this is the fact that your special mutant abilities recharge with kills. It's all about seizing the opportunity then.

Another interesting mechanic you unlock early on is the ability to draw enemy attention to yourself, do this with a well-armoured character, maybe even one that has "dug down" to limit damage taken, in order to save your more vulnerable units and allow them to flank. Grenades are interesting too. A Molotov does damage over time and allows you to deny yourself and enemies access to an area (unless you're willing to catch fire). There's also a frag grenade that not only does more direct damage but also damages cover. Through a few seemingly simple mechanics there's a wealth of depth to explore and exploit.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to EdenMutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Mutant Year Zero: Road to EdenMutant Year Zero: Road to EdenMutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden