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Mutant Year Zero analysis, the mutation comes to Nintendo Switch

Mutant Year Zero
Written by Kamran Haider

We return to the Zone with the analysis of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, this time in its version for Nintendo Switch. The original game surprised us with its mix of XCOM-type fighting and real-time exploration. But how has it technically adapted to the capabilities of the Nintendo console?

Mutant Year Zero managed to surprise at the end of last year with a typical strategy that is increasingly being demanded. His mix between turn-based fighting and real-time exploration, following the story of the classic board game, convinced us, but our return to the title on Nintendo Switch has not done so much. A series of technical restrictions and a port too direct, end up affecting the gaming experience and that the satisfaction of each game is not as high as in the version for the other consoles and computers.

It is not the first time that we face a port for Nintendo Switch, and precisely because of this, what we know is that great conversions to the portable machine have been achieved. Games like Doom or Wolfenstein have been a challenge, but they have moved with great success. Others, such as Diablo III, which shares that isometric view with Mutant Year Zero, also adjusted the technology to the maximum to offer a great version. However, what we find here is not exactly the same as in the previous cases. It is noted that in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden a direct conversion has been made without taking care of the details, making a conversion that blurs the image a lot and without squeezing the capacity of the console, to try to make the most of it.

It is noted that in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden there has been a direct conversion

This not only implies a loss of quality, which is quite a lot, but it can affect the experience. In television, it is already complicated by the limited resolution to detect some elements of the stage, but in portable mode, it can become a real challenge. While we explore the Wasteland, we must collect all kinds of scrap metal and other objects that help us in the mission, but the resolution is so low that it is difficult to detect these elements. Luckily, the same does not happen with subtitles, since an option on the menu allows us to make them as large or small as we want. In short, the Switch version fails to live up to the original by performing a more direct conversion that would have benefited from a more personalized port, since this camera views so far from the action can affect small screens or if Resolution is reduced too much. But, beyond the specific details of this version, how exactly is Mutant Year Zero?

Mutant Year Zero, Entering the Zone

When I played XCOM 2, I remember that one of the novelties focused on stealth, but unlike what we could think at first, this stealth only served to plan the position of the units before the battle. We could take the initiative, but once we started attacking, all the enemies located us, save some that we could keep in this state until we wanted to. In the end, he remained in a certain curiosity rather than in a complete stealth system, since Firaxis wanted to continue focusing on the action, but it seems that it was enough to inspire this small and new study to create his own vision. Mutant Year Zero takes this XCOM base for fighting and adds a whole infiltration and ambush component What is really refreshing for the genre.

Here the numerical superiority of the enemies is usually a fact in practically almost every fight, so we will have to use cunning and try to decimate our opponents whenever we can. When an enemy lags behind and moves away from the main group, it is time to use our silent weapons to try to kill him. Little by little, we will reduce the number of enemies to change the tables and tip the fight in our favor. Even so, it will not be easy, since there are many enemies that will not move from their post and will alert the units around them. That’s when we have to take out our heaviest and loudest weapons to get back to life-long turn-based strategy.Entering the Zone

It encourages to explore each of its corners

When we are not fighting, the game takes place in real-time, instead of in turns. Again, it is a very original system that mixes the best of two worlds to create a good dynamism in the game. At this time we explore the different interconnected areas of the stage, looking for resources and equipment to improve our strange and mutant units. We decide when to ambush the enemies and when to go unnoticed because it is very important to choose battles and at some times leave behind certain enemies that may be too complicated for our level, which is better to deal with later.

[cita01The Zone is divided into different interconnected areas that we will have to explore thoroughly if we want to discover all its secrets and in the highest difficulties it will be practically necessary to explore 100%. In the end I have detected that the trick is to clean each area well to the maximum and the difficult thing is to identify the correct order to do it, because although you can leave behind hard enemies, you need to face them in the future to be able to level up and improve the mutant powers of your units. These powers are very varied and allow us from ramming units to throw them to the ground until we grow to skip the covers from an elevated position. We also have a shelter that works as a base, the Ark, but here I miss the depth that XCOM had. It is noted that the study has not had so many resources to deepen this part of the game. We will barely have stores with which to trade and improve our weapons, also equipping accessories, but beyond that, there are no improvements that serve to deepen the fighting.

For the development of the game, the truth is that it is not very necessary since it contains enough variety for its 20 hours of campaigning. The differences are found in the units themselves, whose mutant powers make them practically unique compared to XCOM soldiers. A mutant may have psychic powers that allow him to mentally manipulate human units but what is completely useless against robotics. One of our allies can deactivate these units, while another focuses on physical strength or long-range combat. In the end, I found the differences between the platoon very funny and knowing exactly when one unit is needed over another. The maximum hit that I put? Not being able to carry more than three units at the same time, what is the maximum that the game allows since it could have resulted in much more strategic and complex fighting.

Shifting mutant action

In the end, it shows that Mutant Year Zero has had to put limits on its ambitions, as it is a smaller study than Firaxis. Even so, this approach to stealth and this kind of guerrilla warfare in a post-apocalyptic and mutant environment feels phenomenal. If you miss more XCOM or perhaps this seems too complex and you prefer an intermediate step, Mutant Year Zero is for you. If the thing works, I am sure that with this good base a lot of improvements will be able to be implemented for a future second part. I hope so because the game has really convinced me. It encourages you to explore each of its corners to reveal the mystery behind the enigmatic Eden.

There is a difficulty mode that makes things really complex beyond the classic Normal, Hard and Apocalyptic modes. This is the Iron Mutant in a clear tribute to this mode of XCOM, in which death was permanent. The fact that we cannot save the game is really difficult because the trip becomes much lighter if we are able to save and load the game just before each fight. Playing in this mode is a real challenge and serves above all to add a replayable component in the game, although it is really difficult.

In any case and any difficulty mode, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden convinces. It is easy not to take into account all the small and big things that do not make it as deep as the work of Firaxis because it is enjoyed from beginning to end. It shows that the people behind it, the Bearded Ladies studio formed by former game creators like Hitman and Payday, know exactly what they are doing. A perfect appetizer that makes me realize, deep down, how much I miss that there are more games of this style.

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Conclusion:

Mutant Year Zero is a turn-based strategy game that is a breath of fresh air to the genre, thanks to its contributions to stealth and real-time exploration. Their characters are unique and charismatic and you will want to take care of them at all times during the 20 or more hours of play. The Switch version is not as careful as others we have seen on the platform, being too blurry and affecting the exploration and detection of certain elements on stage.

  • The use of stealth implies a new approach to gender
  • Real-time scanning helps create a unique combination
  • The fighting is strategic and challenging
  • The Ark, our base, is shallow and could give more of itself
  • We can only carry three units at a time
  • The graphic downturn of the Switch version affects the experience when detecting the elements of the scenario

About the author

Kamran Haider

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