REVIEW: Mutant Year Zero: Seed of Evil

Aug
06

REVIEW: Mutant Year Zero: Seed of Evil

Return to the wastelands of a post-war Sweden in Seed of Evil. Mutant Year Zero gets some extra DLC content. Is it any good? Read on..

Released: Steam
Genre: RPG, Strategy
Developer: The Bearded Ladies
Publisher: Funcom
Franchise: Funcom
Release Date: 30 Jul, 2019

Seed of Evil is an expansion to the award-winning tactical adventure game Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden picking up where the original game ended and offering hours of more gameplay, new locations to visit, and a new leading character!

Continue the main story and explore many hours of all-new content. Expand your team with the veteran stalker Big Khan the moose and get ready to defeat a new threat to Dux, Bormin, Selma and all the others.

In Seed of Evil, you must solve the mystery of the powerful and ominous roots which have taken over the Ark. Discover huge new maps, battle new enemies, improve your mutations, get your hands on all new gear, defeat foes trying to take back lost ground and face off against a vicious new adversary.

Introduction.

Mutant Year Zero returns with a new story DLC. If you haven’t played the base game then I would recommend you first read my review which I posted back in December. For folks new to the series I’ll try my best not to spoil any of the story beats as this new adventure takes place right after the events of the previous game.

The expansion adds new areas to explore, new mutations and a new character to the small squad you command. For anybody who has not completed the main story don’t fret. You can start this new adventure with all the characters unlocked from the get-go. There are also equipped with upgraded weapons and equipment. You have a war chest of mutant points so you can spec out your characters to fit your own play style. This is a welcome quality of life feature and gives you a leg up for the demanding challenge ahead.

Some minor addition to the mutations skill tree have been added. These don’t fundamentally change any of the character archetypes. They just embellish and double down on some of their core abilities. Bormin’s hog rush ability has been souped up to a bear smash. This now knocks out and floors foes for an extra turn. His corpse eater skill can be upgraded to corpse feaster which doesn’t use an action point. Dux’s moth wing skill also gets buffed to wings of the sniper which removes all range penalties.

To bolster your ranks a new character is introduced early on in one mission. Veteran stalker Big Khan is a welcome extra chap to beef up your front line forces. A massive mutated moose with a southern American accent is an imaginative creation. He is a no-nonsense deer and speaks plainly with no fluff. His mutations are in keeping with his personality. One of his signature moves is the ground pound. This destroys cover and knocks down any enemies within the blast radius Another is the flame puke, which sprays a cloud of flammable bile at anyone unfortunate to be caught in its arc. Both these skills make Khan an excellent crowd control character. Close quarter combat with mobs is tough and it’s good to see a troop with the requisite skills to confront tightly grouped mobs.

The new adventure is set in the north-west of the game world. There is a snowy theme as you venture further into this unknown territory. There’s plenty of remnants to the end time of humanity. On your travels, you will encounter a dilapidated video arcade area which is whimsically entitled the “Hall of electric coffins”. Another later environment is set amongst the ruins of a leisure complex replete with “peck” gym and kiddies swimming pool. There’s a tremendous amount of architectural design and small detailing on show with all the new areas. Taking down packs of ghouls with a Molotov incendiary whilst taking cover behind a huge blue dinosaur is a very surreal scene but fits the mood of this quirky game perfectly.

Content

Tactically things have been shaken up with the new combatants sharing some of your own crew’s mutations. I was made painfully aware of these new abilities early in the campaign. Scouting out a new area I discovered a pack of pod ghouls. After circling their camp, I had formed what I thought was a decent strategy and some good cover, behind a collection of rusting vehicles. Opening exchanges went to plan, I had taken out two bad guys without any hits to my team. Suddenly I was blindsided by one of the ghouls as they leapt into the air and landed on the roof of a nearby abandoned shop. This caught me by surprise and exposed my flank to dangerous height advantaged crit shots. What I thought was safe cover was now a killing field. I was caught off guard and soon my entire troop was wiped out as I struggled to contain the onslaught.

A lesson learned the hard way is always a valuable experience, however painful it might be. The combination of higher-level enemies and the facet of increased mobility makes reconnaissance and forward planning all the more important. Not only does this ramp up the tension, but it also pays off with the satisfaction of defeating hordes of mutants with the odd stacks firmly against your raggle-taggle collection of characters. It’s a very rewarding payback when your careful planning pays off. Not only do on the field tactics matter but it is key that you have the right loadout of mutants and the right weapons for the task in hand.

I managed to complete the main DLC story arc in 15 hours according to Steam stat tracking. I must preface this time as my playstyle is rather methodical and in no way the “usual” way to play. I’d “guesstimate” the average gamer could complete this in half the time. That being said, I think there is a decent amount of content for fans itching for more daring doo out in the badlands of Sweden.

Difficulty and balance.

This new content is not for the weak of heart. Anybody new the series and trying out this new DLC before attempting the base campaign is in for a rude awakening. The adventure shows its teeth early doors and even grizzled veterans will be tested to the fullest extent. In the previous campaign hardened players learn to take out key enemies within battles. Shamen have to the ability to call in reinforcements to the skirmish so taking them out swiftly proved vital. Also, the med-bots were a right royal pain in the arse. Resurrecting fallow ghouls so that they may fight again. All these factors meant that being outnumbered was par for the course in most encounters

As you venture further into the new zone a new threat emerges and this ties into what I have just been highlighting. The notion of hordes of enemies against you small three-character squad is a tall ask. To add fuel to the fire we have a new menace to contend with, namely the Pod Spawner! As the name suggests, these twisted mutated plants belch out various types of pod ghouls on a 3 turn tick. If not dispatched within a quick time frame then can easily double the numbers of ghouls you have to fight. One particular map halfway through the new story has three of these abominations. They provided a true test of all my learned knowledge. Taking them down took nearly an hour, leaving my crew battered and bruised by the brutal onslaught they managed to overcome.

Graphics

The presentation of the game is pretty much on par with the main campaign. The new story narrative has seeped into the gameworld. The arrival and proliferation of the ominous red roots give the landscape a War of the Worlds vibe. These creepy tendrils have enveloped every corner of the maps, giving a spooky red hue to the terrain. The focus of all this weird alien plant life are the massive pulsating pods which dominate the action areas. I can’t help thinking that the inspiration for all these freaky florae is from the classic novels by H.G. Wells and John Wyndham.Classic sci-fi never gets old and it’s cool to see its influence in a modern video game.

It’s obvious that the team is now comfortable with the Unreal engine and what it can yield in terms of interesting level design. With the new emphasis on combat mobility, I’ve noticed much more use of verticality in the layout of the new arenas. Also, the level of destructibility of the environments is much more pronounced than in the mainline story. Perhaps this down to the higher level enemies with the ability to use their bulldozer mutations and also the combination of more powerful grenades which I did not use that much in the previous campaign, due to their ineffectual nature. All these factors make the battleground far more dynamic as the skirmishes get more deadly.

Sound

Sonically nothing has changed much unless my ears are playing tricks on me. The dynamic soundtrack appears to be the same, which is no bad thing. What stood out for me was the continuing excellent voice acting. The constant bickering between characters is still present and adds a little insight into their current state of mind. The highlight still remains to be verbal jousting between Dux and Bormin. Who would have thought conversations between a duck and wild boar would be so entertaining. Big Khan has been given a deep booming baritone voice. His slow southern drawl fits perfectly with his visual representation and is what you would expect a gigantic talking moose to sound like.

Extra Features

In addition to various updates and patches, a new challenge mode was added to the base game back in February. Stalker trials acts like a score attack or arcade mode. All the maps have been repopulated with different enemies and scenarios. By taking out bad guys without taking damage you can earn points and these can be multiplied if certain criteria are met. Your final score is then uploaded to a leader board where you can gauge your skills against the rest of the MYZ community. It’s a neat spin on the story campaign and allow players to test out their skills for global bragging rites.

Verdict

Seed of evil doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s more of the same strategy goodness. More evolution than revolution. This is not a bad thing. The original game was a refreshing take on the whole turn-based strategy genre. Mixing real-time reconnaissance with tight fierce combat. For folks new to the game it might be a bridge too far but for fans of the series, it’s a welcome chance to jump back into the game world and enjoy the new story arc. As a complete package with the deluxe edition, it’s now a sizable slice of entertainment. The switch port comes complete with all the new content and makes for a very compelling portable title. Mutant Year Zero is a unique take on the template set by the likes of X-Com. Its deep lore sets it apart from the crowd. It’s a must-have for any strategy fiends.

For anyone who has not tried the game yet there is a free demo available on Steam store. So you now have no excuse for picking up your boomstick and freeing the world of ghouls!

Steam Demo Link

About Spike

Old git gamer. I love dungeon crawlers, open world, simulation and TRPG's. Too slow for the multiplayer "scene" nowadays. Once upon time I could railgun dudes for breakfast. Now I'm spawn kill fodder.

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