It seems like it has been a good long while since we have had a tactical RPG in the mix and Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is here to try to scratch that itch. If the name sounds familiar, besides following all the video game news, then you would be right as this is also The Bearded Ladies’ crack at bringing an old Swedish tabletop game to life. At least to life in terms of video games. But does this Mutant Year Zero hit the mark and do just what we want? That is why we are here without review of the game so you can pick it up on the PS4, Xbox One, or PC, or learn if you need to let it fall to the wastes of the gaming world.
The bombs have dropped. Humanity as we know it is gone. All we have left is the Ark and the Zone to fill in what we know is left. The Ark being the last bastion of “civilized” life and the Zone being where everything else lays. It is a good thing that there are the Stalkers in the mix who can use their mutant abilities to survive the Zone and gather goods for the Ark. Not to mention be sent out to go find missing people, other locations, and artifacts in the Zone. Which is about where we find Dux and Bormin when we start things off in this specific story in the world of Mutant Year Zero.
It pains me to say it, but the first thing that I found was more than bothersome with Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden was the fact that it needed to go through a bit more bug testing before launch. There are still a few in here from audio dropping to weird gameplay stutters when loading into combat. Nothing that ever truly halted my play of the game, but it did lead to a few crashes in the game. Sometimes at the most random of locations and sometimes during a fight where I was being swarmed by too many enemies. Sure, it is something that The Bearded Ladies can patch along the way, but they have been things that should not have been in a final build in my eyes.
Next and last up here is an aspect of the combat that truly struck a nerve for me in Mutant Year Zero. It looks and feels like the team took the random die rolls of the tabletop game and mixed them in when it came to miss chances, which would have been good, except for the fact that they were not random. This is something I would not have noticed had I not had to reload saves, but if you were set to miss a target, no matter what you will always miss that target. This rather defeats the purpose of randomness when you can see it in effect in Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden when reloading a fight or the game due to crash. I even went as far as to test location and placement of things to see if it persisted and unless I moved in for a 100% guarantee, things always played the same. More irksome than anything though.
Right out the gate here, I have to say that I knew little of Mutant Year Zero’s world and lore before playing the video game version. In a very short amount of time, The Bearded Ladies were able to lay it all out there and move into gameplay with little hindrance. From the small quips of the characters to the environments to the NPCs, they were able to fill in a whole world of content faster than many other games out there. This is not just for the main story, but also for most of the core game’s lore. It is rare to see this done so well where you do not need to have hours of dialog or hidden notes around the maps to try to fill in gaps. Right from the start, they show you what the world is like and what to expect. Which drove forward not only the story but want to keep diving into everything.
When it comes to gameplay, I had a feeling I was going to love the mix of exploration and tactical gameplay that we have seen for Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden already. That was a huge understatement as it is extremely rock solid as you flow from free movement to explore and set up an ambush to diving into the combat. Everything felt like the right balance between the two as it did from the transition. Even to the point to where you do not even realize you are in a tactical state while free-roaming where you want to set up ambushes or follow lone targets to pick them off one by one. It is just as engrossing as the lore of the world we are in. Even when things get overwhelming because you took a misstep in setting everything up.
Lastly, I have to go back into the characters and their design in Mutant Year Zero. While the tabletop game does allow you to make your own, the video game version gives you a set to choose from. It was something that I thought would cause an issue for me when it comes to my RPG games. Each one that you get, there are more than the four we have been shown, have been crafted to fit most of the niches you could think of to be fitting for the setting. It is not as open-ended as the traditional game can be, but the team did wonders with what they could do. Each felt like they had a purpose other than “class type”. Something that is usually the case. It feels like these were someone’s tabletop characters at one point and we were allowed to continue their story. No matter what your usual playstyle may normally be, there is one in there you will identify with.
There is no doubt about it that Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is an amazing game. Even with things still being a bit buggy a little bit after launch, it is easy to look past the issues and keep wanting to play. From the world and characters that are set down to how all of the lore is conveyed, you will want to keep coming back. Even if that is not your kind of game, the tactical and stealth mechanics in Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden are properly handled to make the game fun and challenging in the best of ways. All in all, unless you hate tactical games, you will find hours and hours of enjoyment here. I recommend giving it a go if you are not one that truly hates the style of game that it is.
I give Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden 10 Ancient Relics on the Ancient Relic scale.
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden — Launch Trailer
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden was developed by The Bearded Ladies and published by Funcom for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on December 4th, 2018. A PS4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.