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Video Game / Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

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Left-to-right: Bormin, Selma, and Dux, the first playable mutants

"Of course the world ends. You did that to us. When the ice melted, you said nothing. When the plague spread, you did nothing. When the nukes dropped, you became nothing. At least that's what the Elder says. But cheer up. You'll be happy to know that despite your mistakes, life remains. In a small settlement high above the raging river, people are living and thriving. We call it the Ark."

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a post-apocalyptic Stealth Based Turn-Based Tactics game developed by The Bearded Ladies Consulting and published by Funcom, based on the Tabletop RPG of the same name.note  The game released on December 2018 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

The story follows the attempts of the Ark mutants, the last remnants of humanity, to survive the harsh, desolate world, with focus on the expeditions of the Stalkers, the brave souls that venture outside the walls for precious resources to keep the people fed and safe, and the machines working for one more day. The plot kicks off with Bormin and Dux on a standard run out for scrap metal, before the Elder informs them the Ark's head mechanic, Hammon, is missing. The search quickly spirals into a desperate, dangerous adventure for survival and trying to prevent yet another catastrophic apocalypse, all while trying to figure out just why exactly the world and they got that way in the first place.

Gameplay is a hybrid of real-time stealth and exploration, sneaking around the wastes and around your enemies' awareness, before initiating turn-based strategy combat. Ideally, this is after you take out lone guards and stragglers away from the pack, before they can alert the rest of their buddies, fire back at you, or use their vast array of dangerous skills, but one wrong move is all it takes for everything to go horribly awry...

August 2019 saw the release of the following:

  • "Stalker Trials," a series of challenges with online leaderboards.
  • "Seed Of Evil," a DLC campaign which introduced the new Stalker character Big Khan.
  • A Nintendo Switch port, and physical releases containing all the new content for all platforms.

No relation to Generation Zero, despite them both being post-apocalyptic Swedish Games.

The game provides examples of:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Ancients, otherwise known as humanity before the back-to-back ends-of-the-world that wiped them all out. Majority of Bormin's complaints is them causing the end of the world, and it gets much more personal when he finds out he and all the other mutants were created as part of a supersoldier project, before the apocalypse.
  • After-Combat Recovery: Injured characters are fully healed after battle on Normal difficulty, healed 50% on Hard and not healed on Very Hard. The cooldown counter is also reset on Normal.
  • After the End: Basically every single mundane means for the world to end has occurred to this one. Global political strife? Check. Economic collapse? Check. Massive environmental destabilization and widespread natural disasters? Check. Incurable plague? Check. All-out nuclear war? Check.
  • A.K.A.-47: The "Rambino" rifle looks like the FN FAL assault rifle.
  • Ambiguously Human: As seen above with Selma, she certainly looks human, until you notice her grey, amphibian skin and the horns on her head. Similarly, Magnus appears completely normal, but has much of the bioelectric mutations of the Nova Sect Brothers, though without the brain tumours.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The Elder gets so mad about the party trying to find Eden because he wants to spare them the pain of finding out they’re actually just a bunch of genetic experiments.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Achievements for doing things multiple times can usually be achieved over multiple playthroughs.
  • Anti-Grinding: There is a finite amount of XP in the game. Dead enemies do not respawn, and cleared areas are not repopulated.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Nova Sect, a cult composed of Ghouls who want to end the world again, after being cast out by the mutants of the Ark.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A lot of the backstory is delivered through notes and journals left behind from the end times.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You start with two playable characters and end up with five (and a sixth in Seed of Evil). Only three are in the active party. You can swap characters in and out of the active party any time outside of combat, and cutscenes make it clear that for story purposes all five (later six) of you are actually there.
  • Artificial Animal People: The Stalkers are half-human, half-animal Mutants who are eventually revealed to be created as part of Mimir's "Mutant Project" before the apocalypse, intended to grow animal-like humanoids for unknown purposes.
  • Auto-Save: The game saves after every battle, and every time you open a chest. In "Iron Mutant" Mode it saves after every combat turn, and there are no manual saves.
  • Beast Man: Bormin, Dux, and Farrow are mutants who look like a pig, a duck, and a fox, respectively. They have no idea why they look that way, are not happy about it, and are pretty sure the Ancients have something to do with their predicament, as always. They’re right.
  • Beef Gate:
    • You cannot explore the southern half of the map until you can find a way past the Level 25 Zone Dogs in The Iron Serpent.
    • There is a big chest in the middle of The Grave of the Ancients. If you want to see what's in it instead of sneaking past, you'll have to beat one Mimir mech, two Mimir drones and three Polis-bots, all level 60 and within alerting distance of each other.
  • The Before Times: Frequently referenced when it comes to "ancient artifacts," and the Elder's dialog. Due to the degradation of technology, and so much lost knowledge and technology, even mundane things like a pizzeria are assumed to have been a dispensary for some ancient ambrosia.
  • Berserk Button: The Elder gets steadily angrier and angrier at the party for defying his orders by trying to find Eden. It’s such a hot topic for him because he used to work there and knows they’ll find out about their true origins if they go.
  • Bird People: Dux is a humanoid duck.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The mutants rescue Hammon and save the Ark, but they also learn some upsetting things about how they were born.
  • Black-and-White Morality: There is not a great deal of moral nuance in this game.
    • On the one hand you have the people in The Ark, who are trying to live decent lives. On the other, you have the Ghouls, who seem to enjoy slaughter, and the Nova Sect, who want to destroy the whole Zone. This is in stark contrast to the tabletop RPG, where you're as likely to fight other factions within your Ark as Ghouls, and in fact several scenarios might end in trade relations with Ghoul tribes or even their joining the Ark. The Nova Sect is still an insane apocalypse cult though.
    • The Rot Warren is a bunker whose inhabitants were slaughtered by Ghouls. If Farrow is your lead character when you explore it, she will propose payback, and say "We have to show them that good will always triumph over evil."
  • Black Comedy: As is often the case for post-apocalyptic settings. Of particular note is one last letter a father left his daughter during an ill-fated evacuation from the Red Plague, where he explains he accidentally killed her pet turtle and replaced it with a different one. Said turtle died after he accidentally dropped his beard trimmer in his tank, and his death was "painless" after a few minutes of absolute agony. Also, the turtle was the wrong gender.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Postmord vans (The Postnord postal service).
      • This is also a meme, referencing Postnord's notoriously bad track record with package delivery ("mord" means "murder" in Swedish.)
    • Electroflux (Electrolux appliances).
    • "Gundess" signs have the same colour scheme as Guinness beer.
    • Gunilla's Secret (Victoria's Secret).
    • "Klasses Fiskpastej", referencing "Kalles Kaviar".
    • Häxchoklad, which you can find ads for, is a play on Kexchoklad, confectionary manufacturer Cloetta's flagship product.
    • There are signs for Min Sko in the Forbidden City, with a design and colour scheme suspiciously reminiscent of Swedish shoe retailer Din Sko.
    • The game also features ads for "Pestbyrån", referencing convenience store/newsagent chain "Pressbyrån".
  • Body Horror: Ghouls, humans twisted by the radiation and toxicity of the Zone. Of particular note are the Sect's "Brothers," who wield electric/psychic powers, and whose heads are stuffed to the brim with cancerous tumours. Also notable is the description of the symptoms of the Red Plague, which includes rashes on the skin, high fever, and bleeding out of your eyes.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Chemical Flares give a 25% bonus to hit chance, conveniently counteracting the 25% penalty imposed by mutations that raise damage. It is also possible to throw them without alerting enemies, for your ambushing pleasure.
    • Some gun mods have a chance of setting the victim on fire. Being on fire doesn't do much damage, but it does give a 25% accuracy bonus for being in the light.
    • One of the first things that you can buy from Pripp with artefacts is a 20% discount in Iridia's shop.
    • One of the top tier artefact upgrades is +1 damage on guns. That's +3 per turn if concentrating on the same enemy, and it applies to every gun without spending any gun parts.
  • Broken Pedestal: By the end, the party’s view of the Elder is irrevocably shattered when they learn how he’s been lying to them for their whole lives.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Played for laughs in one of the trailers when Dux finds a can of ham and Bormin looks at him disapprovingly. There’s also the “corpse-eater” mutation.
  • Composite Character: The animal-based mutants look like the animal mutants in Mutant Genlab Alpha but share the backstory of the human mutants of Mutant Year Zero.
  • Cooldown: Active mutant powers have a cooldown period of two or three enemy kills. The kills can be by any party member, not just the one who used the power.
  • Creator Provincialism: It takes place in Sweden.
  • Critical Hit Class: Farrow's unique selling point is that she can deal excessive amounts of critical hit damage so long as she's hidden. As such, many of her skills allow her to remain in stealth even during the heat of combat. Dux and Selma can also be this, by using their skills geared towards gaining height advantages and improving range, long-range weapons especially.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Selma is ostensibly a mutant like the rest of the cast, and has some features like vestigial horns and grey skin, but is an otherwise very attractive lady.
  • Draw Aggro: The mutation "Joker" does this. Its UI icon is a Cymbal-Banging Monkey.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If team members reach zero HP, then they enter Bleeding Out status, and can be revived with a med pack. If you take too long they will die and cannot be revived ... but will come back to life after the battle ends, with HP depending on the difficulty level.
  • Dog Got Sent to a Farm: Referenced: One of the Achievements is "Sent to the farm. Put 20 Zone Dogs 'to sleep'."
  • The Drag-Along: Dux makes it well known that he considers the whole quest a mistake and that he’d rather just go back to the Ark. He gets dragged along anyways.
  • Early Game Hell: Beatable enemies are hard to find at first, which obviously makes it harder to level up to take on the tougher enemies. However, if you stick with it, your weapons and mutant powers will become a bit stronger, you will become better at using them, and ways to beat the tougher enemies will start to present themselves.
  • Enemy Summoner: Ghoul Shamans, who yell out for additional reinforcements to make your life hell.
  • Fake Longevity: Downplayed, but the Level Grinding variant is at play here.
  • Final Death Mode: Called "Iron Mutant" instead of the more common "Ironman." Available on all difficulty levels.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When you reach Eden, you can find a note saying that Dr Ingmar Edison took some mutants to the birthing chamber instead of euthanising them. If you remember the Elder's claim to have found the mutants in the forest, this is a big clue to the subsequent revelation that the Elder created the mutants.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Pripp, proprietor of his eponymous bar, and an ancient artifact dealer in the Black Market. The numerous perks you can buy for him are all obviously illegal, shady, or detrimental to someone other than you in some way.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Played straight with guns: party members can shoot right through each others' tiles with no problems. Best not to try it with grenades, though.
  • Future Imperfect: Thanks to loss of knowledge and degradation of many ancient projects, many speculations about relics tend to be off from its intended purpose. One example being assuming "Boom Box" as an explosive device rather than a slang for a music player, and many of the stat-boosting clothing assumed to have all been used for war and combat, like American Football armour, and a Poker hat.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: There is a sidequest to retrieve a key for an NPC called Lux. If you give him the key he will reward you, but you cannot investigate his suspicious basement. If you return to the area where you found the key, it will be returned to your inventory with no explanation, and you can now check out the basement.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • If your characters are Hiding, then patrolling enemies will walk right past them without noticing. They can Hide behind, or in front of, almost anything.
    • Enemies will not react to glow sticks being thrown at them if none of your characters are in the guards' detection radius when the stick is thrown. This allows you to throw a stick, exit combat, and then start again with the enemies all lit up.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Mutants are all part-animal, as the results of genetic experiments by the Ancients.
  • Heroic BSoD: The game ends with Bormin in the middle of a particularly severe one, having learned that his whole life is basically a lie.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The levels have plain names, but where most games have Easy, Normal and Hard, this game has Normal, Hard and Very Hard.
  • Immune to Fire: The Pyro is immune to fire damage.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Wraith, a silenced Rambino rifle, which is a reward for a side quest in "Seed of Evil."
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: You have to go around anything more then knee high. On the bright side, you can probably hide behind it.
  • Lazy Backup: Characters who are knocked out during battle cannot be replaced by the characters who are not in the active party.
  • Limited Loadout: Characters can carry two weapons and three grenades. The party can access a Hyperspace Arsenal when out of combat, but when the bullets start flying the arsenal closes, and you have to make do with what the party have on their persons.
  • Limited Move Arsenal: Characters develop mutant powers throughout the game. At any one time they can only have one Major, one Minor and one Passive mutation active, but you can choose which ones are active any time that you are not in combat.
  • Mêlée à Trois:
    • In Izza And Fala, when you take on the Ghouls this will sometimes get the attention of the Polis-bots, which will then attack the Ghouls.
    • In The Lair of the Horned Demon, if you hack the Mimir mech it will attack everyone, and the Ghouls will attack it instead of you.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Literally. Mutants are not the only Stalkers out there, but being a Stalker is the only job a Mutant is generally allowed to be.
  • No-Sell:
    • Some helmets and pieces of armour grant the wearer immunity to specific attacks, e.g. fire, charging, critical hits, mind control.
    • Enemies that use special attacks are immune to those attacks, e.g. Pyros cannot be hurt by fire.
  • Notice This: Collectibles sparkle gently. Scrap, loot and weapon parts are white, notes and chests are gold, artefacts are purple.
  • Ominous Mundanity: The radioactive, disfigured and psychopathic mutant-infested wastes outside of the Ark are referred to as "The Zone."
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Plutonia and her cult want to destroy the Ark and the last remnants of civilization with it.
  • Pardon My Klingon: The characters mix normal swear words like “hell” or “goddamn” with weirder, animal-based ones like “duck” instead of “fuck”.
  • Permadeath: "Iron Mutant" will autosave the game and disable manual saves.
  • Pig Man: Bormin. Specifically, he’s a humanoid wild boar.
  • The Plague: The Red Plague, which devastated majority of the population after the massive ecological collapse but before the nuclear war. Its symptoms include bleeding paranoia, skin rashes, and worst of all, bleeding out of the eyes, and the brief shot we get of row upon row of dead victims is not pretty, to say the least.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Say my name, jizzwipe: it's Farrow.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Done in the backstory alongside more mundane quarantines to try and contain the Red Plague. It didn’t work.
  • The Reveal:
    • The Elder's name is Dr. Ingmar Edison, otherwise known as the scientist of the Mutant Project who smuggled out Dux and Bormin, after the two of them were meant to be executed along with the rest of mutants.
    • The mutants were part of Mimir's "Mutant Project," intended to grow animal-like humanoids for unknown purposes.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: One of the artefacts you can find is a Defribrillator. People in the Ark think that it was used for removing Fribs.
  • Sequel Hook: The team reaches "Eden" in the form of a Mimir bunker; there they find out that the Elder was an Enclave scientist who helped create them. Bormin is hardly a minute into the resulting existential crisis when a radio clicks on, demanding a response from the Sweden command center.
  • Shock and Awe: The Nova Sect Brothers' brain tumours somehow give them the ability to supercharge their neural activity into a level that can be weaponized, discharged into foes, or used to empower allies. Later on, you get Magnus, who has the same powers except without the outwardly cancerous mutations.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Metal Fields, Dux says of one building "That looks like a place you get processed in. I am not a number, I am a free duck."
    • The flavour text for the mutation Silent Assassin reads "Like the dome-headed assassins of the past, you are able to do great damage while hidden from your target. That's as long as you hit... Man."
    • The Boomstick's description was penned by Chronicler Ash.
    • The Blue Oyster Cap refers at least to Blue Öyster Cult, and possibly to the Blue Oyster Bar from Police Academy.
    • In "Seed of Evil," you can find a red cap with the slogan MAKE SWEDEN GREAT AGAIN. It gives movement and defense bonuses.
  • Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly: In most areas you will quietly pick off an outer ring of lone static and patrolling enemies, ending up with a hard core who have to be assaulted head-on.
  • Strategy RPG: Along similar lines to X-Com, though with real-time segments between turn-based combat.
  • Support Party Member: The Ghouls have a few. Shamans can call reinforcements, Med Bots and Plutonia can resurrect dead enemies.
  • Take Cover!: High Cover and Low Cover reduce hit chances instead of reducing damage.
  • Technically-Living Zombie: The Ghouls, though they’re much more intelligent than zombies are usually portrayed; they’re dumb as rocks, but can speak, follow order, and generally have coherent thoughts. It’s just all buried under a perpetual psychotic rage.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: The following appears at the end of the credits: "All events and characters appearing in this work are unlikely to be based on anything or anybody who really exists (we'd love to meet a pig-faced person!)."
  • Trailers Always Lie: In the opening cinematic, Selma gains a coarse, stone-like appearance - in-game, Boorman is the one who gains the "Stoneskin" mutation.
  • Turn-Based Tactics: Like one of the most famous modern examples, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the game has a One Side, One Turn ruleset, with Square Grid movement. Everyone has two actions per turn, most commands and skills costing one, some demanding two. It also has Overwatch and reaction shots.
  • Unexplained Accent: Everyone speaks with an American accent except for Farrow, who has a London accent. She is from the same region as everyone else a bunker lab in Sweden, so by Translation Convention one would expect her to have the same accent.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Bormin accuses the Elder of being this, as seen in the page quote. There's quite a lot of evidence that backs it up once they reach Eden and discover he was a scientist involved with creating him and the mutants.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There are Achievements for taunting a mind-controlled team mate, for killing a team mate, and for eating a dead team mate.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Bormin and Dux, with emphasis on the Vitriolic part.
  • Warp Whistle: Of the common "reach a place by foot first, then teleport to it" variety.
  • When Trees Attack: In ''Seed of Evil', the Ark and the Zone both are under attack from ominous red roots that are slowly choking the life out of everything and producing "Pod" versions of the inhabitants. The Stalker team later learns this is the work of Jyko, yet another Mimir experiment gone wrong as she tries to clean the world of "toxins"—that is, everything that isn't her.

Alternative Title(s): Mutant Year Zero