26/02/2019

๐Ÿ— Review: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden - PS4 - "Never a ‘boar’ing moment" ๐Ÿ— #GameDev #IndieGame

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Developer: The Bearded Ladies
Platform reviewed: Playstation 4
Rating: Ice Cool
Pre-fight stealth sections add a new angle to the turn-based strategy formula present in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (MYZ: RTE) and the story, whilst quite generic is rich with atmosphere and the unforgiving gameplay is just on the right side to keep you involved without it feeling hugely unfair.

Set on Earth after humans have apparently been little tinkers and nuked the hell out of everything, the titular mutants live on an ‘Ark’ and are now ‘Stalkers’ that roam an irradiated ‘Zone’ (Strelok, are you here?) looking for scraps of the old world to keep their machines running and to hunt for food and water (oddly not a focus of gameplay although the scarcity of which is referenced in the cut scenes).

The initial protagonists are Bormin and Dux (literally a mutated bipedal, talking boar and duck respectively) who, able to survive the harsh surroundings of the Ark are routinely asked to search for food and scrap. The main thrust of the early part of the game is searching for an important character called Hammon, who has disappeared into the deeper parts of the Zone and needs to be located.
The game runs at a mostly solid 30 FPS, stuttering usually in the Ark when talking to characters (this also causes occasional audio glitches) and in rarer moments when out in the zone. It’s mostly stable but it does feel like it should be a little smoother, especially on console.

The visuals are a pleasingly grungy palette which suits the post-apocalyptic gameplay, and as you make your way around the sections of the zone, the rich, overgrown greenery gives way to desert-like sections and mountainous regions all of which come across well visually, although the inability to zoom in / out is a shame as the viewpoint is locked to the standard isometric camera, removing an element of control.

Whilst the individual sections of the zone are open, there are entry/exit points linking them up and so it’s not an open-world scenario per-se, but each section does hold secrets and areas hidden off the beaten path which, when visited can reap you rewards in the way of armour, guns, artefacts and scrap, all of which can be traded in to different people at the Ark for various bonuses and upgrades.

As you make your way through the game you’ll come across a handful of other stalkers that join your squad as you get deeper into the mysteries not only of the Zone but also your own, personal histories. Bormin and Dux are quite cool characters with their own identities but the repetition of dialogue does creep in from NPCs and enemies, although nowhere near as fiercely as in Jagged Alliance: Rage where every few seconds multiple people are shouting the same thing one after the other until the mute button became my only true ally.
MYZ:RTE really kept my attention fixed throughout, the gunshots, grenades and gameplay all feel satisfying, it gives an extra sense of control when you turn off your light, sneak up to a hiding spot and lay in wait for the perfect moment to spring on your enemy; do you take one out with Dux’s crossbow, silently? Pickoff distant stragglers? Maybe hurl in a grenade to spice things up?

Either way, the game switches from real-time to turn-based whenever a battle breaks out and things heat up and you had better be prepared because leaving a character out of cover or even worse, able to get surrounded can be absolutely disastrous and ruin your team in a few short turns.

There is an element of levelling up present in the game and this acts as a barrier against just ploughing through the areas. At the start of the game you’ll wander away from your current objective and see pockets of enemies ranging from level 25 to level 55, clearly meant to be avoided until much later in the game, which gives that sense I love of knowing that I’ll soon be returning with my bottom-kicking boots firmly buckled up!
Summary
MYZ: RTE is a really fun, atmospheric game that kept me involved throughout. The story isn’t ground-breaking but the presentation of it really works well and the voice acting breathes life into the game world.

The four difficulty levels ensure that all levels of skill are catered for and each successful skirmish is gratifying.

The skill-tree feels redundant after a while when you’ve chosen the buffs and abilities you want but that doesn’t really take effect until quite far into the game and even then, isn’t really a deal breaker.

And yes, whenever he threw a grenade in the game, I thought of Dynamite Dux ๐Ÿฆ†๐Ÿ’ฃ


Right, I’m off into the Zone again, see you at the metal bird.

❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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