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Rob Zacny

Episode 458: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

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Three Moves Ahead 458:

Three Moves Ahead 458


Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
This week Rob, Jon Bolding, Giant Bomb's Alex Navarro, and Troy "I can't find the bard class" Goodfellow take a look at Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden by The Bearded Ladies game studio. Mutant Year Zero combines XCOM-like tactical gameplay with a post-apocalyptic setting that's a joy to look at. Its boardgame roots are evident in its sharp gameplay and rich setting.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

 

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I get the impression I’m the only person to have played this other than the panel.....  

 

This game quite unexpectedly ended up as my personal Game of the Year for last year, although given how few games I play that’s probably not saying a lot. I enjoyed the panel discussion and I have to say that I broadly agree with pretty much everything that was said about the combat, as well as the setting and atmosphere which pretty much make the game. Studios like BioWare and Bethesda should be chewing their own arms to make central characters as engaging and charming as Bormin, Dux and the rest. That said I wasn’t too sure about Farrow’s cockney accent. It was a little too much Dick Van Dyke if I’m honest. 

 

The combat model with the real time stealth moving into TBS worked really surprisingly well, and it was really quite tense setting up a decent ambush before attempting the silent takedown for lone ghouls or robots, so that they couldn’t call in reinforcements. It made each location into a sort of turn based battle puzzle in the end - scouting the objectives, working out the patrol routes and then executing a dance of silent assassinations prior to hitting the final (usually central) objective. 

 

Of course that that is also the games Achilles heel - alongside the lack of variety in abilities. Once you’d figured out how to clear a location, well that was it more or less. The patrol routes don’t vary, nor do the numbers and types of enemies that stay the same each playthrough, so once you’ve solved it once it sort of stays solved no matter how many times you replay the game. After completing it originally I went back and attempted several ‘Iron Mutant’ runs at the hardest difficulty. While that made you a little over reliant on critical hits landing (especially early game) it also was absolutely unforgiving. A single mistake allowing either the target to call for backup, or you making too much noise and activating or alerting another enemy and it was game over. There’s no mechanic that I could find that allowed you to retreat and regroup - the enemy would hunt you down and destroy you very quickly, with numbers almost always being very much against you. 

 

It gives the game almost zero replayability which is really a shame, it deserves to played again and again. I’m very much looking forward to what they do next though I have to say. Fingers crossed for a new adventure, hopefully with a little more variety in it and some way to escape when you accidentally mess it up. 

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I've got this game on my shortlist of things to pick up & play soonish but haven't gotten to it yet. So many games, so little time.

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