Mutant Year Zero Road to Eden Review

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Review

A beautiful, technical disaster.

Release Date
December 4, 2018
The Bearded Ladies
PC, Xbox, PS4
Reviewed On
Xbox One X

I rarely find myself as polarized as I am now as I write this review. On one hand, I think Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a great game. On the other hand, I refuse to excuse the plethora of bugs and technical hiccups I’ve had to deal with throughout the course of my time with the game. Make no mistake, there’s a lot to like here, however, the question becomes whether or not you’re willing to put up with the constant technical issues in order to continue progressing through the game’s intriguing story.

Set in the landscape of a post-nuclear apocalypse, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden has you step into the boots of a party of stalkers, mutants who venture outside the safety of one of the only safe havens the world has to offer in search for materials. This safe haven, known as the Ark, provides the player with the opportunity to purchase and upgrade weapons and equipment, as well as engage in story-related activities. While outside the Ark, the player’s squadron of mutants will encounter various enemies, most commonly ghouls, who are all-too determined to beat (and shoot) your unlikely party of heroes into the ground.

While the combat is fairly engaging with destructible environments and unique skills to each mutant, the real treat is exploring the well-crafted environments with your flashlight for secret stashes of weapons and armor. The environments are beautiful, and wandering through them is one of the primary pleasures of the game. In fact, the game’s well-executed stealth mechanics shine here, as when an enemy is encountered while exploring, silenced weapons and clever positioning can extinguish the threat before they’re even able to call out for help.

Mutant Year Zero Review
The environments are well crafted, and a joy to explore.

The primary pull of Mutant Year Zero is without a doubt its unique world and strong storytelling. You will quickly find yourself enjoying the banter between Dux, Selma, and Bormin, which is delivered through absolutely excellent voiceover work. It is by far the strongest element of this game. Moreover, each mutant’s unique combat abilities do well to create an interesting battlefield dynamic, all the while they shout insults and backhanded praise to one another. The characterization of this wonderful group is exceptional.

Mutant Year Zero Review
Flanked enemies should NOT be given their cover bonus.

If it wasn’t for Mutant Year Zero’s strong story and characters, I would have uninstalled the game in furious frustration far before completing this review. The game, at least it’s Xbox version, is an absolute technical mess. Mission-breaking bugs like skyboxes that suddenly fall into the environment, blocking your view will be all too common as you explore the wasteland beyond the Ark. I quickly found myself forming the habit of saving very frequently, as I had no faith that the game would not crush my dreams of conquest with a bug requiring an immediate checkpoint load.

Mutant Year Zero Review
Sigh. The ground lifted over the battlefield again. Good thing I save every 10 seconds.

The bugs didn’t stop with the environment. The game’s challenging firefights often ended in angry fury as flanked enemies in open view remained impossible to target, often leaving your own party vulnerable. These types of issues are unacceptable, and considering how difficult the game’s encounters can be, these bugs test the player’s patience as their party gets wiped and a checkpoint is reloaded.

Moreover, while I praised the game’s focus on exploration above, the constant framerate drops are jarring and disorienting, despite being played on the Xbox One X. I personally was unable to identify a culprit for the framerate dips throughout my playthrough, and could only come to the conclusion that they were seemingly random and impossible to anticipate. Fortunately, Mutant Year Zero is a turn-based game, so the framerate doesn’t compromise the game like its bugs do, but still, for a game with such strong atmospheric elements, it’s disappointing.

Mutant Year Zero Road to Eden Review
Review Summary
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a good game marred by numerous inexcusable technical issues. You'll love its characters and its story, but will hate its bugs and lack of polish. This is one of those games that will be excellent after a patch or two, but until then, it's difficult to recommend.
The Good
Excellent voiceover work and characterization.
Great setting and environment.
Good balance between combat and exploration.
The Bad
Infuriating technical issues that constantly impact gameplay.
Combat could feel more responsive.
More enemy variety would be appreciated.

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