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

Developed By: The Bearded Ladies

Published By: Funcom

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to Funcom for providing a review code

Once in a while a new game in a genre is released and piques the interest of many dedicated players. These games don’t always have to be groundbreaking, but they have to exude the feeling that they’re better than average. When Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden first launched, I was immediately intrigued. I’m a big fan of tactical RPG’s and it looked fantastic. My issue was that it was something I needed on my Switch, so I waited. Finally, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden has come to the Switch in a deluxe edition including its recently released DLC. So let’s take a look at this long-awaited port.

Story

Mutant Year Zero sees you journeying across a post apocalyptic world where humans have gone extinct. Instead of humans, the world has beings known as mutants and ghouls. Mutants are strange entities that are similar to humans in how they act, but look very different. To put it into perspective the two main characters are human, animal hybrids.

Bormin & Dux are the two main characters and they will be with you for the entirety of your journey. Bormin is a mix of a human and a big, while Dux is a mix of a duck and a human. Mutants that are able to go out into the world and scavenge are known as “Stalkers”. It’s the Stalkers who explore and find items to bring back to the main base known as “The Ark”. The Ark is the central operation and without it the stalkers would be no more.

After returning from a mission Bormin & Duk learn from “The Elder” that one of their comrades known as Hammon has gone missing. Without Hammon The Ark cannot continue to operate. So it’s up to Duk & Bormin to take on the mission of a lifetime. Throughout their mission the twosome will find new team members, evil ghouls, and just how cruel the world can be.

I enjoyed Mutant Year Zero’s story for what it was. It’s not a story that has the most depth, but there’s an intriguing world to explore and the characters make it even more interesting. There’s some twist to the narrative and I definitely felt like I had some investment in the story. While it may not be Mutant Year Zero’s strongest element, it’s certainly worth paying attention to.

Gameplay

Mutant Year Zero is a 3D tactical RPG that combines free roaming elements, with sharp tactical gameplay.

With your team of mutants you will travel across a multitude of different areas. Every area can be accessed from your map, but before you can fast travel to it you have to visit it. This is where Mutant Year Zero differs from many in the genre as it allows you to have full range of your movements. You’re able to walk around each of the game’s locations and explore, what they have to offer.

Exploring is important, because you’ll need to keep a close eye out for salvage and weapon parts that are lying around. Salavage and weapon parts are used in the game’s hub area The Ark. I’ll talk a little more about The Ark later on. Long story short don’t plan on simply killing enemies to get all the resources you need. You’re going to have to take the time to look around each area

What I really enjoyed about the ability to move freely, is that you can choose where you want to be when you engage your enemies. Mutant Year Zero is heavily reliant on a stealth approach to combat. I would say many of the battles will be near impossible to complete, if you simply run in guns a blazing. For that reason, being able to position your characters where ever you want was a great design choice.

Catching units off guard is the best way to fight. You can sneak around each area and pick out the enemies that are isolated to make battles easier. There are multiple types of weaponry, but what matters in this case is which ones are silent and which aren’t. Silent weapons will not alert enemy units, except for the one you fire at. An enemy unit can alert other enemy units on their turn, so if you choose to fire at someone you have to take them out that turn.

When a battle commences the area you’re in will turn into a tile based area. Each character has their movement range, stats, weapons, and abilities. Some characters may lean more towards being in the back and hitting from a distance. Others will be more geared towards up close combat. The battles really play out like any other tactical RPG. You move around and attack your enemies. Depending on factors like coverage and whether you have high or low cover will dictate your attacks accuracy.

One specific mechanic that is worth noting about is the “Overwatch” skill. Overwatch is a defensive position that any unit is able to make use of. Using Overwatch will end a unit’s turn, but will allow them to shoot at an enemy that comes into their line of fire during the enemies turn. It’s a very useful technique to make use of for your back line fighters with long-range weapons.

When you’re not battling there’s a fair amount of managing to do within your group of units. You’ll come across many weapons during your travels that you can equip along with armor such as body and headgear. As I previously talked about, you can also visit the game’s hub area The Ark to exchange your salvage and weapon parts. Salvage is used to buy new items such as medkits and grenades, new weapons, and attachments. Attachments are placed on your weapons to give them stat buffs such as higher range and damage, or a chance to cause a status effect. Weapon parts are used to level up weapons, which increases their max damage and range.

As you continue to fight battles you will notice your team’s level will increase. Unlike many tactical RPG’s Mutant Year Zero has your team leveling up together, instead of individually. This means that your team will never be underleveled, even if characters join in later into the game. It just means if a character joins in later they will have a ton of skill points to be allocated.

Every time your team levels up, each character receives a skill point. Skill points are used to unlock new parts of a character’s skill/mutation tree. Any character is allowed to equip a major, minor, and passive mutation. While they may not usable at the same time, you can unlock more than one type of a mutation and swap them out between battles. Should you be more interested in boosting specific stats each character has a few stat bonuses that you can increase. Stats increases usually include additional maximum health, or an increase to a character’s maximum movement range.

Mutant Year Zero is a terrific tactical RPG that’s a worthwhile addition to the genre. Instead of focusing on a long term experience, Mutant Year Zero relies on being a short experience that doesn’t grow tiresome. The main story can be completed in about 12-15 hours, but the DLC will add an extra few hours on top of that. However, what Mutant Year Zero has over titles like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy tactics is it doesn’t grow tedious and redundant. I love the two previously mentioned titles, but Mutant Year Zero simply nails its execution and creates a tactical RPG where you can simply pick it up and finish it over the course of a few days. It’s the perfect tactical RPG experience, for those who are looking for something that won’t consume weeks of their time. It’s a shame that the Switch port has arrived with many flaws.

Presentation

Mutant Year Zero has a very interesting apocalyptic style visual design. The world is full of objects and environments that are familiar to the real world, yet are surrounded by a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The character designs are well made and I was happy to see such a high level of diversity among them.

My main issue with Mutant Year Zero’s presentation is how poorly it looks on the Switch. In handheld mode Mutant Year Zero can be very hard on the eyes. Everything from characters to environments are extremely blurry and this doesn’t change no matter how far you get into the game. The blurriness of the graphics makes everything difficult to see and it can really take some time to adjust to it. I did most of my playthrough of Mutant Year Zero in handheld mode and I did manage to adjust, but still there’s no excuse for such unpolished visuals. Docked mode does help make everything sharper and better to look at however, it’s not perfect.

Technical Issues

Once again Mutant Year Zero’s transition to Switch was not kind to its technical prowess. During combat there are constant slowdowns when switching between different combat options and characters.

The biggest issue I had with Mutant Year Zero were the constant crashes. I had the game crash on me 5 times, throughout my entire playthrough. While this may not be a huge amount considering, I spent over 12 hours with the game it was still very frustrating. The game does a pretty good job with autosaving, but crashes like this really do hurt the overall experience.

Summary

I want to say that Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a fresh new addition to the Nintendo Switch’s tactical RPG collection. However, with so many discrepancies between the Switch version and other platforms, it’s almost certain that some players will be upset. I thoroughly enjoyed my playthrough, but I understand this won’t be the case for everyone. If you only have a Nintendo Switch, or need a portable version Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is still a good experience that’s worth a try. If you own any other platforms consider buying it their first.

7/10

Pros

  • One of The Best Tactical RPG’s of Recent Years
  • Solid Combat
  • Free Roam Exploration is Entertaining & Adds a Layer of Strategy
  • Solid Amount of Customization
  • Interesting Post Apocalyptic Setting

Cons

  • Frequent Slowdowns During Combat
  • Crashing Issues
  • Visuals Were Very Blurry in Handheld Mode

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