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Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

A duck and a boar set out to brave what's left of the Swedish west coast...

  • Text: Bengt Lemne
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Mutants come in many shapes and forms, whether hideous enemies or righteous do-gooders. The latter is the case in Road to Eden, a stealth-focused adventure with turn-based combat set in the rebooted Mutant RPG universe. It follows the two mutants Dux and Bormin (a mallard and a boar) as they go on a mission in the devastated Zone to save the Ark (the last (?) refuge of free people) from Ghouls and potentially find the rumoured haven of Eden.

It didn't take us long to question our decision to play Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden on hard (there are normal, hard, and very hard modes). Having to reload a save (thankfully the game auto-saves at the conclusions of each encounter), question our tactics, switch our gear around, and retry. But to be honest, the challenge is what makes the game worthwhile to play; without challenging combat encounters and levels where you need to figure out how to approach each situation and maximise the potency of your group of mutants it wouldn't be memorable at all and the normal difficulty is similar in challenge only with full recovery in between encounters. Our best moments in the game where the times when we had to rethink our strategy, maybe going loud, maybe using smoke to divide the battlefield, maybe using grenades and crowd control.

We've already mentioned some of the tactical options available here. The basics are much like Xcom in combat. You have two action points per character each round, with any sort of attack or major mutation ending the turn for said character (whereas say moving or reloading takes one point). You need to manage ammunition (reload) and move around to improve your hit percentage and seek out cover. Each mutant develops mutations (basically they're skills) and can equip one major, one minor and one passive mutation. A minor mutation can be Bormin's hog rush ability that lets him run head-first into an enemy and knock them out for two rounds. Another minor mutation can be moth wings that allow certain characters to grow wings and get some elevation (to give yourself a better hit percentage with an important shot for instance). Major mutations are typically more powerful and can allow for two shots (with a -25% accuracy debuff), make you immune to damage for one round, have a secondary effect like an EMP stun, and so on and so forth. There are not too many mutations per mutant, but going in with the right build for each situation can be key to victory. Certain abilities work well together with others, and the gear you wear, and it's entirely possible to combine weapon upgrades, mutations, and headgear to give you a 100% critical hit rate in certain situations. Those dicey moments when everything is riding on hitting that 50/50 shot or getting a critical hit are definitely a highlight.

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

It's a system where every little thing matters. An extra 25% accuracy or an extra point of damage can make all the difference. But your primary concern in stealth and making sure you limit the number of enemies you face. There's a fairly binary stealth-system in place and when you can attack a lone enemy (outside of the visual sphere of his comrades) you should, and you should keep it quiet. Take them down inside one round and your enemy cannot alert nearby associates. So each level becomes something of a puzzle where you need to figure out how to thin the herd without bringing about large-scale combat and to set yourself up so that you're abilities get to shine. One aspect of this is the importance of splitting your group up and hiding in spots as patrolling enemies can be taken out much more cleanly this way. It's really fascinating how much tactical depth there is with very minimal tools.

You will, therefore, have to try different approaches, and most of the time you'll need to be surgical and quiet, but during some enemies or encounters, you need to go in loud and hard. For instance, Bormin has an ability where he takes no damage for one round, which can come in handy if you've alerted a group. It should be noted that you are underpowered compared to your enemies; in a fight where you're even numbers, you're more than likely going to lose and well, there's barely a level where you're not outnumbered three to one, so stealth is definitely advised.

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