When I first got a glimpse of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden during my GDC 2018 appointment earlier this year, I was instantly sold on both the concept and what the final product would ultimately become. With a gritty post-apocalyptic setting created by Sweden based independent game development studio, The Bearded Ladies (a talented roster of former Hitman designers and Ulf Andersson of Payday fame) and a group of anamorphic lead protagonists engaging in XCOM stylized tactical combat scenarios, it already was evident to me that Mutant Year Zero would be a welcomed treat for diehard fans of the genre.
During E3 2018, I finally had an opportunity to get some hands-on time with Road to Eden during an extensive hour-long play session. Below is a brief description of the demo, my personal thoughts on the upcoming strategy adventure game and an explanation of why it should definitely be on your radar if it isn’t already.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is based on the classic Swedish pen and paper RPG series from the 1980’s titled Mutant. This particular story documents the trials and tribulations experienced by a team of special creatures as they search for a place of refuge in a dangerous new world. The demonstration opened with the team of Selma, Bormin, and Dux navigating towards a crash site in search of a mysterious character named Hammon after receiving instructions from their Captain. The undisclosed location is soon after referred to as The House of Bones and our trio of heroes are instantly thrown into a deadly game of survival with several types of adversaries on their trail.
Once combat got underway, I learned very quickly exactly what separates Road to Eden from most tactical adventure games. The Bearded Ladies emphasis on combining real-time stealth with XCOM-inspired tactics really does give players opportunities to plan their attacks meticulously based on every situation. However, if players are reckless, spotted quickly and/or outnumbered then their chances of survival are extremely scarce. The gameplay is very unforgiving if you make the wrong choices and I personally think that this is a positive because it guarantees that players will not only learn from their mistakes but they will also gain a deeper sense of accomplishment after overcoming certain obstacles.
Speaking of enemies, players can expect a wide array of various types of threats to contend with. In the GDC demo, the developers had to take on several disgruntled creatures and a massive robot which could be used as an ally depending on if they explored the area earlier on to gain access to the machine. While the E3 2018 demo didn’t feature the robot, it did include a MedBot capable of reviving enemies after they had been killed. This indicated to me that the enemy AI is always evolving and there is a distinct learning curve that you’ll need to master combat in this game. The added layer of difficulty is something that will keep you on your toes and will definitely make encounters more interesting as you progress through the game.
In terms of graphics, Mutant Year Zero seems to be coming along rather nicely. Animations looked fluid with each movement by both players and the AI controlled enemies. The same also carries over to certain structural environments that can be damaged if you use grenades or special weapons like RPGs. This can be seen as a gift or curse depending on if you or your adversaries are the ones being targeted while in or aorund a structured setting.
After losing to my opponents halfway through the demo, I was able to finally beat them the second time around. Unfortunately for me, the appointment was over, leaving me with a strong desire to keep playing. Once you gain a deeper understanding of the combat tactics and how to better position yourself for success, you’ll be very eager to jump back on the battlefield. This is definitely a great sign for a game of this stature and with still so much more to learn about our heroes and the overarching storyline there is more than enough intrigue here to get players anxious to get their hands on the final product once it launches later this year.
While my time with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden may have been short, I’m fully confident in saying that The Bearded Ladies and Funcom are well on their way towards creating a truly immersive and gratifying experience that will leave any and every turn-based combat fan wanting more. If you love challenging tactical strategy games with a compelling storyline and interesting characters then Mutant Year Zero is being made specifically with you in mind.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden launches later this year on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The PC version can be pre-ordered right now at buy.mutantyearzero.com. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts on the upcoming game and more in the comments section below.