So, a boar, a duck, and a fox walk into a post apocalyptic bar. No, wait, that’s a joke I know. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is the infuriatingly tough child of The Bearded Ladies Consulting development team. The exact opposite.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a tactical turn-based/open world adventure RPG. It holds host to a cast of varied, colorful characters each with distinct and unique abilities.

The story follows a group of Stalkers from one of the only safe havens left in a world devastated by destruction; the Ark. Our primary protagonists, Bormin and Dux are tasked with finding the lead engineer of the Ark; Hammon, who is himself a well decorated Stalker.

We travel with Bormin and Dux through the Zone, a war-torn living nightmare filled with monstrosities, mechs, and mad men, in search of Hammon. Along the way we meet a collection of friendly mutants, each with their own distinctions. The journey takes our heroes to lands far from home and more dangerous than ever.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Screenshot

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden has a huge variety of gameplay elements. Outside of combat you have free roam of the map, here you can explore the beautifully chaotic world in search of Scrap (in-game currency) as well as weapons, mods, armor and other collectibles.

You can also use the real-time element of the game to plan your attack on enemies that you encounter. You can don your best Rambo impression and rain down hell and fire on your enemies or alternatively go all John McClain in Die Hard and opt to pick off any enemies which have strayed too far from the pack.

The combat in the game is notoriously difficult, I know this doesn’t exactly sound appealing but I have a sad-masochistic relationship with games. You may find yourself constantly reloading the same checkpoint just to have the satisfaction of pulling off a Sam Fisher-esque string of stealth kills.

Killing enemies also grants your party with experience. In turn this levels up the party (Captain Obvious has arrived). After every level each member is granted 2 perk points. Once you have enough then you can really start to make each Mutant your own by focusing their abilities into your desired play style.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Screenshot

Turn-based strategies are best known for plopping you down into a battlefield and forcing you to kill everything to move on. Not with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. The majority of enemies can be avoided with only a few blocking transition points. Alternatively you can pick off a select few and save the rest for a later point in time.

Upon your visits to the Ark, you are able to visit the Elder, the community leader who offers insight into the backstory. There is shop you can visit to purchase equipment and other items to help you survive and make enemies not survive. There is an upgrade station which allows you to power up your weapons and apply perk enhancing mods. Lastly, like any good settlement, a bar, here you can hand in any collectibles you have found throughout the game to acquire team enhancing perks.

All the areas in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden have a level recommendation. This may seem obvious but the game actively lets you actively know which areas have enemies too strong for your team. Once you do reach the required level the game removes the warning, therefore letting you know that its time to inflict some post-apocalyptic justice on some freaky fools.

The enemies in the game are also a diverse group. You will come across the violent, mutant-hating Ghouls who have a tendency to enact pure brute force through the Tank unit and Butchers. If you come across the ghoul Shaman then you better refocus all efforts into this loud-mouth bassoon carrying bastard as he will summon more and more enemies into the fray.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Screenshot

Some ghouls also come with good old-fashioned guard dogs. These Zone Dogs aren’t quite as varied as their belligerent owners. They come in only two sizes and one shape. The more mature Mother Zone Dog is much like the Shaman in which it calls forth more rabid beasts for you to put out of your misery.

If these aren’t enough for you then prepare yourself for an army of Bots to close on their tail. Some units have the ability to resurrect previously felled foes whereas some of them will incapacitate members of your party until they themselves are sent to the scrap yard and discontinued from the production line.

So yeah, quite a standard bunch. Plot twist time. Introducing the creatively crafty Nova Sect. A group of psychokinetic madmen with the powers to turn your own units against you. They can use a mind-control ability to force the tide against you even worse than it is.

The world and level design of the game is very well crafted. Every area is beautifully crafted. The ravaged ruins and abandoned vehicles scattered throughout the game world really show off how desolate things have become.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Screenshot

No two areas feel the same. Landscapes vary from wooded wastes to Baltic bastions of feigned safe havens. Every part of the game world has its own tragic tale to tell.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden also features its own take on the Iron-man Mode with Iron Mutant. This turns this already difficult game into a hair-wrenching, tear-inducing applicator of PTSD. Gone is the ability to abuse the auto-save/reload checkpoint I am so fond of. Every death is permanent, every decision is instantly regrettable. But hey, you do you, you crazy people, I will stick to keeping my sanity.

If you really want to take this insane challenge on then you are going to need to learn the game inside from out. The game offers, like I have already, a ridiculously steep difficulty.

My one complaint with the game is that your squad is limited to a measly three at a time. This does add to the difficulty curve but with how interesting each character is it feels a shame to have a restriction on the amount you can have active. Not only this, but every character can use any weapon. This means that the characters really only become defined by their abilities and the weapon choice comes down to preference rather than individual ability.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Screenshot

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden executes what it set out to do with near pin-point perfection. The blend of play styles compliment each other extremely and surprisingly well. The mixture of real-time exploration and turn-based combat allows you to take the strategy element and apply it in ways similar games don’t allow. Take into account the array of playable units then you end up with a highly interesting game with a fantastic premise.

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