Mutant

Stop me if you heard this one. A woman, a duck and a warthog walk into a bar… sounds like the beginning of a joke that is certain to have a mediocre punchline. But, instead of being the basis of a hacky joke, the above mention team-up is what you get in impressive (and very much not hack) Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.

Based on the pen and paper, table-top RPG, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where what is left of mankind takes refuge out in The Ark, one of humanities last bastions.

“Mutant Year Zero, is George Orwell by way of John Carpenter.”

You play as Dux (a mutant mallard), Bormin (a brutish boar) and Selma (hybrid fox/human). These stalkers are humanities daily, and last saving grace. Stalkers spend their time exploring the Zone (a dangerous wasteland) for supplies in order to keep The Ark running.

Mutant Year Zero, is George Orwell by way of John Carpenter. Mixing, elements of Orwell’s vision of humanity succeeding in a doomed and foolish self-fulfilled prophecy. And retrofitting Animal Farm with Carpenter’s hard-edged, sci-fi dystopia-sploitation, the game sets the table with big ideas.

The world that the game builds and the character’s designs are cool and visually pleasing, but the story isn’t where the meat of this burger lay. As with most strategy games, we came her for the tactics and luckily the game puts all its aces into that mechanic specifically.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden has an impressive mixture of real time exploration, along with more conventional strategy elements firmly in place. The combo is extremely satisfying in its execution. The exploration elements allow you to head out to nooks and crannies to find hidden materials weapons, while also allowing you to scout ahead, find the enemy and prepare positioning and technique to dominate combat.

Controls are slick, and allow you to split your team up in order to setup for the best tactical vantage points. For example, having Dux posted on the roof of a building, Selma half hidden behind a broken-down car, and Bormin in close ready with his scattergun. Finding the best approach to an ambush is satisfying and key in defeating your enemy. Using stealth weapons add the extra advantage of thinning out the herd before fully engaging, and make you feel like and absolute tactical genius.

Each character comes with their unique set of upgradable traits and abilities. These include basic check boxes like health and weapon experience that allow you to survive longer and fight harder in the skirmish. The real fried gold lies in the mutation upgrades. These completely change and give advantages in combat. A good example is Dux mutation that grows him a pair of mothwings, allowing him to get the upper hand and vantage point in the heat of combat. Each character has a set of these mutations and each is a blast to play around with.

The Ark is the hub where you do all of your weapon modifications, antique trading, item shopping and where you have conversations with The Ark leader, “The Elder.” This is a point and click map, that is simple and to the point. Nothing in the upgrading or modding system gets bogged down with unnecessary over complications. Find a scope? Cool. Have it attached at The Ark. Simple.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an absolute achievement.

The combo of mods, upgrades, armor and mutations with the sense of personability that the game lends, makes you feel like your game and approach is entirely your own. A careful approach to tactics, and the blueprint to make feel smart and unique is a heck of great way to feel when gaming. And In recent memory I can’t think of a strategy game that flexed in the same right.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an absolute achievement. It breaks new ground in strat based gaming and doesn’t over complicate itself in the process. It’s cool characters, rad world building and intense battles are all exactly implemented. Where the game falls short in its enemy’s attack variety, it more than makes up for with its cocktail of mutations, mods and firepower.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is out now on PC, Playstation and Xbox One.