The appearance of X-COM excited the gaming community. And no wonder – this series successfully combines global strategy with tactical and turn-based combat in real time. Since then, many imitators have appeared, both successful, such as UFO, and not so much. The plots of most of these successors usually revolve around an alien invasion of Earth, an invasion of earthlings on an alien planet, or some period of history. But they are not united by space. Some representatives have implemented such gameplay in other settings. And one of them is Mutant Year Zero.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a tactical adventure RPG project from Swedish developers The Bearded Ladies, based on the board game of the same name from the 80s of the last century. The project was expected: the Swedes skillfully took advantage of the fashion for turn-based battles and post-apocalyptic stories, making, at the same time, their own unique product.
The history of the world of Mutant Year Zero is quite simple. Nuclear powers dropped nuclear warheads on each other in a world already suffering from cataclysms, as a result of which humanity has sunk into oblivion, and mutated anthropomorphic animals and several people with various external and internal changes have become the pinnacle of evolution. The technologies of the former civilization are forgotten, simple household items such as an audio recorder have become mysterious relics of the past, and the animals themselves are forced to survive in a dead environment.
The main characters are a squad of animal stalkers who set off on a journey through the Zone inhabited by dangers to find the mythical Eden and complete a couple of other tasks along the way, such as searching for parts for a water pump and a missing stalker. Despite the fact that the plot offers a choice of squad members, three main characters stand out. These are the overgrown duck Dax, the stern pig Borman and the stone-skinned girl Selma. As you can see, the plot is quite boring and not original, but few people made a post-apocalypse with brutal animals in the lead roles.
Graphics and characters
What’s strong is the atmosphere. Familiar to man at home, mechanisms have long been overgrown with green grass, an ambulance found along the way evokes sad nostalgia for human times – the emphasis here is not on the destruction after the war, as in the same Fallout, but on the revival of nature as the mistress of the planet, as in The Last of us. A nice soft palette, atmospheric scenes – that’s what the developers did best.
The second strong point is colorful characters. It is immediately clear that the team put all their efforts into them. Even if the story of each during the passage is not directly revealed, but constant remarks, manners of communication and behavior, innuendo speak about them no worse. The bully-Selma, the skeptical Dax in a raincoat with his paws funny looking out from under him, the straight Bormann – they all do not open immediately.
Mutant Year Zero can’t be called an X-COM clone because it isn’t. The project does not offer the construction of a base and single sorties on a mission, and a comparative minimum of possibilities for building a combat squad is also presented.
What they have in common is turn-based combat. After meeting with an opponent, the combat phase begins, where, under certain conditions, it is decided who goes first. Mainly, this is influenced by stealth. Of course, you can immediately get into a fight, but it will be a lost battle in advance. Fortunately, the first opportunity is given to examine the map for the presence of opponents in order to decide which tactics to use for whom. You can take the enemy by surprise and start the move first, prudently placing the fighters in advantageous positions. You can silently eliminate lone gaping opponents.
At the beginning of the passage, the right tactics are the key to victory, because there is no such thing as an “easy level of difficulty”. But with the advent of more powerful weapons, only bosses are worth fearing. But just like in X-COM, there are two active phases in combat – movement and action, and hit percentages of 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. And the game makes it clear that these percentages are given with great difficulty with each shot.
Because there are only three characters in the squad, then their capabilities should be used to the fullest, it’s good that Mutant Year Zero offers an extensive selection of these same abilities. The heroes have not only their own unique skills, charged by the number of kills, but also a special mutation system – a kind of skill tree.
Everyone has their own mutations: someone just gets taller, stronger, faster, and someone can even grow wings and fly all over the map. There is little variety, but such a system allows you to create new combinations of passive and active skills of squad members. Each hero has his own role in the team: someone is a tank, someone is an attack aircraft, and someone is easier to operate from stealth. And these factors should also be taken into account.
There is also a stronghold of peaceful life here – the Ark, where you can return at any time, turn in the artifacts found during the adventure, get scrap, attachments for weapons or additional skills and listen to interesting stories.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden – video review
What is the result
The developers managed to recreate the harsh world of the post-apocalypse with animals in the role of humanity on the basis of a role-playing game. Let the project have some rough edges, but it is worth paying attention to it not only for connoisseurs of such topics, but simply for lovers of interesting stories.