by Kenneth Kok
previewed on PC
MUTANT YEAR ZERO: ROAD TO EDEN
No this is not the newest disney movie, but a new game by developers, The Bearded Ladies. Although the guys we met, including producer Mark James Parker, did not sound like ladies, they were a very likeable and enthusiastic bunch. Me and Sean got the (unfortunately short, due to a strict meeting schedule) possibility to play their new game at the Gamescom.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a tactical adventure game where the developers try to emulate the classic pen & paper experience, of what they refer to as the Mutant RPG franchise including board games. In Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (I am going to shorten it to MYZ from now on, this is a mouthful) real-time gameplay is combined with a turn-based combat system which transfer seamlessly into each other.
END OF THE WORLD
Humans finally did it, they went crazy and started a nuclear war which ended up in the human race going near extinct and mutant animals taking over the top of the food chain. In the aftermath of this catastrophe, a duck, a boar and a human-like (mutated to a degree) woman, named Dux, Bormin and Selma, roam around earth in search of… the road to eden. You walk around on the map from an arched top down perspective, much like any other RPG (controllable with WSAD). You can walk as a group or switch to individual movement. This is part of the real-time stealth gameplay. When you encounter enemies you are given different choices in how to deal with the encounter. You can try to bypass them, going into crouched stealth mode, avoiding their area of view. Or you can line up your characters for combat or an ambush.
AMBUSH OR YOLO
If you choose to confront the enemies you can go in yolo, but it is more advisable to setup your characters in covered positions and start combat on your own terms. So first you switch to the turn-based combat mode and individually position your characters in preferable locations. Here is where the tactical thinking starts kicking in. You have the possibility to activate characters in combat when you wish. With this you can create multi-staged ambushes, starting combat with one character and luring the enemy back to where you’ve positioned the other characters. If they are hidden well enough they will be able to fire side or even back-shots into the enemies. Or you can move them to flank the targets when they are lured away.
In combat you have a broad array of skills and abilities at your command, which are extended and improved throughout the game. Each character has his/her own set of skills, varying from close combat brawling to rogue-like sneakiness or sniping. Some characters (like Dux) can gain the ability to fly/hover, which adds a second layer of combat with its own advantages and disadvantages (there is not much cover in the sky). Weapons come into play as well, since there is a loot system and loot everywhere. Guns, slingshots, armor; would the game be an RPG without them?
SAfE HAVEN AND DESTROYED CITIES
Or rather a neon-outfitted, Vegas-like oasis called the Ark, where you go in-between your journeys and adventures. Here you can sell your loot, stock up on new supplies, meet people (or rather mutants) and rest up before you start your next trip into the wild. The wild consists of not only forest and countryside, but also of decaying cities and other leftovers of the human society. All levels and characters are beautifully handcrafted with colorful and detailed graphics. Animations are fluid and the special effects complete that cinematic picture.
My interest in turn-based games is limited and having only played for about 20 minutes (oh well one more time, *takes deep breath*), Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is on my list of wanting more. The current release date is set at December the 4th of this year, you can pre-order the game from their website www.mutantyearzero.com, which reminds me, I still have to….