Nintendad

[Review] Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden – Deluxe Edition – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: The Bearded Ladies
  • Publisher: Funcom Oslo
  • Release Date: 30/07/2019
  • Price: $44.99 / £39.99
  • Review code provided by Funcom

Don’t Leave the Ark

Humanity has fallen. The last remnants live in the Ark, the bastion of our normality in a dying world surround by the Zone. The zone is crawling with ghouls, beings who were once human, now bloodthirsty beasts that ravage the planet with an inhuman hunger. You are a Stalker; stalkers represent hope for the Ark. As trained soldiers, stalkers are brave enough to face the ghouls and explore the vast zone for scraps of plunder to bring joy to everyone else. What’s the catch? You are a mutant pig whose compatriots are also anthropomorphic beings. Welcome to the world of Mutant Year Zero…

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Deluxe Edition is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which mutants are humanities last hope. You control Bormin & Dux, two likeable and yet hardened stalkers on a search for Hammon, a vital member of the Ark who went missing on his last excursion into the zone. What has happened to Hammon and will his disappearance lead to bigger questions about your own existence? While I won’t get into spoiler territory, I did enjoy the story of this game more than I expected. Most of the plot is divulged in dialog between characters while exploring. Some pieces are found in various notes left scattered across the ground. Then seldomly there are cutscenes consisting still-animation hybrids, like an animated comic book.

From start to finish, MYZ: Road to Eden will take roughly 15-20 hours to complete if you want to fully see and do everything. Also included in this package is the Seed of Evil DLC campaign. It fits perfectly as it picks up right after the credits roll. This DLC campaign features more of the same, and it was a fun addition. A new character, Big Khan is introduced and a new threat as well. The DLC will clock in around 3-5 hours as there are a lot of optional missions and objectives for completionists.

The Name’s Farrow!

Mutant Year Zero is a turnbased tactical strategy game and a challenging one to boot. When you begin, you are given the option to play three difficulty levels starting with Normal, then Hard, then Very Hard. You also have the option to turn on the perma-death option, “Iron Mutant”. This mode disables manual saves and if your character dies, that’s it. Game over man!

Battles take place using a grid-based system. Each character has a set number of spots they can move, with gear or character abilities granting more mobility. Attacks are based on percentages that are affected by the placement of characters and their gear. Firing a rifle from across the stage, you may have a 75-100% chance of hitting the target, whereas a shotgun may have a 25-50% chance of hitting the mark.

As mentioned previously, gear and abilities add another layer to the dynamics. All weapons can be upgraded and outfitted with various modifiers to give more range, accuracy or damage. Character abilities are where the real nuance to the combat begin. Bormin, for example, gets an ability that allows him to knock enemies unconscious for 2 turns and Farrow has an ability that can disable mechanical enemies. These are crucial to master, as this game shows no quarter, even in the beginning.

Truth be told, I did not like this game at first. I jumped into battles without studying the battlefield and was decimated, every single time. I had to learn how to play this game. It felt like an important piece of the puzzle was missing and in fact it was, scavenging. I had missed so many pickups in the form of gear, collectibles and scrap (the games currency). When you are not in battle, you can move through the various environments looking for these various items. While doing this, you can also move in and out of enemy’s vicinity. This was another important lesson that was learned.

Learning when and where to encounter the enemy was the difference between taking out each enemy one by one with stealth or alerting the whole troop. By the time the credits rolled, I had quite a grip on stealth kills and it was made easier after unlocking the right skills and upgrading the right guns. Thank you crossbow!

Aside from the main campaign and the DLC chapter, there is also a trial mode. This is perfect for testing out your stalker skills. This mode provides you with a set number of money and allows you to fit your character how you deem worthy. After each mission you are graded and then awarded based on this grade, giving you access to more items in the shop to continue the cycle.

Get Some Grogg

Upon starting the game, I was greeted with a beautiful cutscene. I was thoroughly surprised when the graphics of the actual game did not keep the same fidelity. Then when I put the game into handheld mode I was even more taken aback as the quality dipped even further. The characters looked extremely pixelated. To my shock, when I transferred the Switch back to the dock, the pixilation remained. I am unsure if this was from a glitch, or if the game would lower its visual quality in certain areas of strain.

This was a shame as the art style was rather well done and fit for a dark drab apocalypse. The stalkers looked dirty; the ghouls even rougher. The zone looked desolate but had signs of nature taking back what humanity had conquered. I just wish I was able to view it clearer, to truly appreciate the artistic design.

On the flip side, the sound design was on point. The voice work was superbly done and very witty. The relationship between the main characters was one of my favorite parts. There was a specific line in which Bormin told Dux (an anthropomorphic duck) to “Shut the duck up.” It was perfect and felt more like something you would see in Duckman. The music, while not always present, fit the mood. It had a very 80’s version of the apocalyptic future, which I will always appreciate.

Get in the Zone

For all the good things I can say about Mutant Year Zero, it does take away from the fact that this game is glitchy. It crashed on me over twenty times, even once as soon as I started the game. Most of the time, if I was in the middle of a battle and went to use my characters skills, it would cause the game to stop and pause. At moments like this, I would give the game a few seconds to catch up. If I didn’t, it would usually result in the game stopping abruptly and kicking me out to the home screen. The worst time happened when I was in a tense boss battle and the game crashed. I was determined to not let it sour me. I restarted the game, loaded up my save, and before I could even get back into the game, it crashed.

These bugs did not stop me from completing the game thankfully, but there were a few times when I had to change how I played as attacking an enemy in a certain order crashed the game repeatedly. After my third crash I decided to explore some of the optional areas and come back. Thankfully this caused the game to proceed as expected, but it was still a frustrating matter that broke the immersion.

Final Thoughts

Mutant Year Zero is a game that is filled with many great pieces. An engaging story, intensely difficult combat and top-notch voice work. Yet, the overall unit is spoiled by sluggish graphic issues and massive crashes. I did, however, enjoy my journey with Mutant Year Zero. I would have enjoyed it exponentially more if these issues were not present.

Pros

  • Intense & Satisfying Combat
  • Dark & Intriguing Story
  • Exceptional Voice Cast

Cons

  • Graphical Downgrade
  • Numerous Game Breaking Glitches
  • Razor Sharp Learning Curve

Verdict

Mutant Year Zero has so much to offer, but sadly comes with almost more baggage then it’s worth. Underneath the glitches and graphical issues, there is a diamond in the rough.

3/5

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