Little bit surprising but Mutant Year Zero was one of my favorite games while I visited Gamescom in 2018. I had zero expectations while walking in the press room and came out stupidly excited. From that day on I was highly looking forward for the full release. The game had more surprises because it launched on Xbox game pass too. So how is the combination of a apocalyptic world, funny looking mutants that look like Daffy Duck and Pigman from Beyond Good & Evil, and lots of exploration with a turn-based-combat like Xcom? Check it out in our review for Mutant Year Zero from developer The Bearded Ladies.
What is good?
- Mix of gameplay genre: I always admire developers that try something else, and that’s the least you can say about what The Bearded Ladies. Mixing stealth with an Xcom like tactical turn-based system works incredibly well and totally feels like a fresh experience. Placing your three characters in a stealthy manner on the field hoping to benefit from their abilities is not only fun but feels really instinctive too. High action adrenaline moments are switched with some relaxing exploration for gear, throughout the hours I played the game never became stale, something that eventually happened with Xcom.
- Memorable characters: How can you not love a talking duck and pig? My one and only fear after playing the pre-release version was that adults could find it a little bit immature, luckily the dark story and characters quickly diminished that feeling. While a Dux and Borming look funny at first you look past the mutant-aspect rather fast and they grow on you right from the start. Not only the main characters but also the NPCs at the Ark (homeplace) have some fantastic design, the people found here will sell you gear or potions or just enjoy chatting with you.
- Exploring is worth your time: Investing time for discovering every corner on the map is totally worth your time. You’ll find chests with new parts, new currencies for buying stuff or notes that explain you more about what happened in the world.
- Great looking visuals: Forests are dense with many original setpieces, textures look really sharp and the animations from creatures look absolutely great. More importantly however is that the post-apocalyptic world looks really believable and offers a lot more than meets the eye. It lures you in with small details like falling leaves, wild life and more, the design team behind Mutant Year Zero really outdid themself with all the characters and world. Well done Bearded Ladies, well done!
- Interesting story: Right from the start the characters take a hold on you, after some time and some suspense the story does it too. While I won’t deny that the story is cliché it still managed to keep my full attention. Zone after zone (levels), things keep intriguing.
- Some hilarious moments: You can expect a fair share of typical duck jokes, but the timing of the aggressive dialogue works out pretty fine. As with all humoristic content you either hate or love it, but they played it safe so none of you will get offended. It is actually one of the highlights while playing the game, the dialogue between the mutants are hilarious and regularly put a smile on my face.
- Background story for Dux, Bormin and Selma: The story for why you are exploring the dangerous world is exciting enough, little bit cliché perhaps but what I really missed was more background story for the main characters. I got so fascinated by the cast, especially Dux that I wanted to find out more about their past, the game really fails to give that to the players.
- Static Ark: While I appreciate how fast everything is accessible, buying stuff in the Ark allows you to continue your journey throughout the post-apocalypse world in a speedy manner I do regret that you couldn’t explore the Ark more. Before entering this “last place of survivors” I was hoping to explore and see some awesome stuff.. it was a little bit disappointing that it was nothing more than a static page.
What is bad?
- Unforeseen moments in combat: While it is a thing in the turned based tactics genre I wasn’t a fan about some unforeseen moments while battling against enemies. Missing shots when an enemy was right in front you, new enemies that spawn right behind you… resulting in nothing less than the Grim Reaper welcoming you. This might be an unfair point in the “What is bad” I realise this but more than I liked I was a little annoyed because I died about something I didn’t see coming.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden | Score: 90/100
For me Mutant Year Zero is the surprise of 2018, the Sleeping Dogs from this year. With some great looking scenes, funny and fascinating characters, decent story and dialogue developer The Bearded Ladies released one of the best games from 2018. Be sure to check this game out, something this original should be played by many gamers.