Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is a tactical adventure game mixing RTS ( Real-Time Strategy), stealth, exploration and some RPG elements into its gameplay. Developed by The Bearded Ladies Consulting and published by Funcom. In this game players take the role of a member of “The People” a faction of humans living a mutated life in The Ark, an isolated area, and going out on missions within the rest of the post-apocalyptic world. These concepts and the overall game itself are all based on the Mutant series of board games which sees mankind fleeing to segmented underground communities.
STORY / CHARACTERS
In this game the player controls a band of mutants (starts with only 2 but by the end there will be 5 in all) living in a post apocalyptic world sent on a mission to initially, find a missing member of the Ark (the home base) who went looking for something. Once he is rescued he tells the band of the existence of Eden, and they are tasked with looking into it despite the Elder’s wishes.
The team of mutants the player controls (starting with Boarmin and Dux and eventually including Selma, Magnus and, Farrow) to me seemed pretty well fleshed-out, they had individual personalities and their own thoughts on how things should proceed and from time to time they will voice their opinions. Other characters encountered like the different members of the Ark, the few NPC’s the team comes across in their travels and the final boss could, in my opinion, have used a little more substance to them.
The Ark members are given just enough personality to make them stand out a little but more could definitely have been done with them. Some enemies the player will encounter are based on some standard strategy types (i.e. close range fighters, long range gunners, “tanks”, grenadiers, and “mystical” types) others include Zone dogs (the only animal type seen) and, Robots (medbot, polis-bot, Polis enforcer, and a couple other types).
The story, while interesting, was not anything that really stood out as a unique experience but as the team goes further into the Zone they find clues that Eden may hold the answers to their questions and what is revealed definitely leaves room for future visits to this world should the developers desire to make a sequel.
This is first and foremost a tactical strategy game with a few other game elements thrown in as previously mentioned. The Squad will be able to free roam in the different areas until an enemy is spotted then the player has the choice of how/when to engage in combat (unless they’re careless and the enemy spots the mutants first) either by sneaking around and eliminate lone targets or setting up to take on larger groups.
During battles the player will control his squad of mutants (of which only 3 will be on the field at one time) and the opponent will almost always outnumber you. What makes this game interesting is that at any time (except when in combat) you can change the mutations and/or equipment on your squad or even swap out squad members. There will definitely be times when certain mutations or squad members will be more useful than others. The players best tool for battle is actually what they can do before the battle as in scout ahead and take out any enemies that have wandered away from the main group.
The stealth part of the game also comes into play here as whole groups of opponents can be circumvented when passing through an area if the player so chooses this, however, is not always recommended because nothing respawns in this game and the team will need all the experience it can get by the end of the game. Back at the Ark the team can use scrap that is found in all of the areas to buy more equipment and use weapon parts that were gathered to upgrade guns.
As for the mutations, they have a pretty decent selection, Boarmin is the heavy tank type, Magnus is a control/mystical type (Magnus also has some of the same abilities as Nova Sect enemies which can be a challenge to deal with), Selma works as a grenadier type and the other two, Dux and Farrow can both function as long range / sniper types.
GRAPHICS / ENGINE PERFORMANCE
The visuals in this game were very well done when it comes to the areas where the battles happen. The character animations were excellent and the mutants looked great. The enemies also are detailed enough so that you can tell by looking at them which type of enemy it is (tank, grenadier, etc.) Explosive moments of destruction mid-combat handled well enough also. The biggest drawback however is when it comes to the scenes where the Elder speaks to the group, it came out really rough looking. I did have a few issues with teammates lagging behind or get caught on parts of the terrain once in a while so the pathing could have been a little smoother. The devs handled the different effects of the weapons and abilities during combat excellently, the fires from grenades / molotovs, the lightning blasts and gun blasts were effective.
SOUND / MUSIC
The music in the game was effective in enhancing the overall feel of the game but for me it didn’t really wow me, it was good just not memorable for me. The voice acting was fine, each of the Mutant squad had their own distinctive sound which fit their personality. In combat each unit has lines that will be repeated but didn’t get annoying to me though it might for other players. The weapons, mutation effects and other miscellaneous sounds all worked effectively as well.
The game is rather short and fairly linear so replay value may low unless your an achievement hunter. I personally enjoyed it enough where I may play it again on a different difficulty level just to test my skill. It also has an ‘Ironman mode’ for those hardcore strategy players.
My final thoughts on the game are that is an enjoyable experience for those who like turn based tactical games. There were some technical issues (at least at the time I wrote this review) like some AI pathing glitches and it did crash on me twice but not during battles and didn’t ruin my saves. With those in mind, the fact that certain elements of the game could have been fleshed out a bit more, the story while it did get interesting towards the end was still a bit weak and the overall shortness of the game (though I still believe it’s worth the $35 price tag) my score for this is a solid 8 out of 10 and I would definitely be interested in returning to this setting should the developers decide to continue with it in future games.