Mutant: Year Zero - Seed of Evil Review30 Jul 2019 0
Mutant: Year Zero - Seed of Evil Review
Released 30 Jul 2019
Mutant: Year Zero is an old Swedish TTRPG that started without freaky humanoid animals with mysterious powers. Those came later. Mutant Year Zero the video game did focus of those animals, though. And the Seed of Evil DLC is taking them for another adventure. SoE picks up where MYZ ended - literally with your last save game, if you finished the game - as the Stalkers discover the secret of their Elder. He runs away, leaving the Arc to fend for itself. And while Bormin, Dux and the others hunt him down, red wines start enveloping the settlement, changing its inhabitants. It’s up to the mutants to find the root (heh) of the problem and shoot it dead.
The DLC grafts another bit of campaign map to the existing one (and the spare space hints at one more to come in the future). Just like in the main game, you will explore the areas of the Zone and unlock new ones to progress in the plot. However, you will also have the chance to revisit some of the locations from the old game: the new Overseer will call the Stalkers to notify them of new trouble brewing in the area.
Big Khan is the new mutant to join your group of Stalkers. He’s amMoose-man, and the most experienced legendary Stalker on the Arc. Big Khan has a dark and mysterious backstory as well as a mutation that lets him breathe fire - business as usual, really. He’s a tough, beefy dude, ready to do tough, beefy dude things.
Unfortunately, Big Khan still feels kinda useless when you have Magnus and his Possession power with you. This might not be a TTRPG, but the ability to mess with the action economy by stealing one of the enemy's own troops to add to your roster still overshadows other options. And there are very few spots in the game where that’s not an option.
The new enemies presented in the DLC - the Pod Ghouls - aren’t immune to being mind-controlled, so that does not bode well for Big Khan. The new ghoulies offer a few twists over the traditional variety. Some of their classes exhibit mutant powers, like super jumps or being able to entangle Stalkers with roots that burst out of the ground. Others are just well equipped, either having pistol that can set targets on fire or throwing actual grenades. These two types are very dangerous - and fun to mind-control.
And while we may never know ‘how is babby formed,’ we do know that Pod Ghouls come from Pods. These just stand on the battlefield, waiting to be aggroed. Once they’re alerted, they will spawn a Pod Ghoul every three turns or so, and of increasingly dangerous variety. It’s important to gank them as soon as you can. Curiously enough, Pods don’t count as hostiles for triggering ambushes/battles, so you can’t just sneak up to them for an alpha strike. That is, unless you’re willing to engage in shenanigans, which I always am.
Beside the Pod Ghoulies, you will also get to fight some of the old enemies from the main game, mainly Enforcer robots and the more regular kind of Ghouls. They will appear both in the new maps and during the new missions on the old ones. I actually only skipped one of the fights, as fights in MYZ mean both loot and XP. However, medikits are a precious commodity that’s not easy to come by, and their availability will dictate a lot of your tactical decisions. Can XCOM boast of levels and missions thoroughly stealthily looted without alerting any of the foes? I doubt it can.
However, experience points are kind of useless in the SoE DLC. Sure, leveling up still has use in that it’s tied to restocking at Iridia’s shop. However, your regular mutants that finished the main game probably already have all the powers you cared to unlock. Not even halfway through the DLC, you will have already upgraded those powers that could be upgraded and then bought all the other ones just to get that notification arrow to disappear. The upgrades are cool - Bormin’s Cannibalism no longer costing an action point does a lot of heavy lifting - but sparse, so you’ll we swimming in unspent points by the end.
However, that’s not the case with the group upgrades that you buy with artefacts - they can now be upgraded just like the powers. But artefacts are harder to come by than XP, which makes the system a little harder to overwhelm.
SoE still retains the main game’s propensity to dump lore on you in lengthy intros. However, the environmental storytelling is as strong as it ever was. Even when you put the Stalker banter aside, the levels are lovingly crafted. They tell the story of how the Ancients died before the ice and the Zone came, and of the people who left their mark in the interim. Environmental storytelling was one of the great strengths of the main game and it remains such in the SoE DLC.
All in all, Seeds of Evil is a good if a bit short DLC for Mutant Year Zero. I enjoyed the chance to get back into the Zone and kill some ghouls with mutant buddies. The game world is still beautiful to behold and the urge to loot the map before engaging in any plot hasn’t gone anywhere. If any more DLCs come out, I just hope they can find ways to make other Stalkers more appealing to use without nerfing Magnus.