Developer: Experiment 101
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre(s): RPG, Action, Open World
Platform: Steam (Also available on Xbox and PlayStation)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 25/05/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
“Post-Apocalyptic Kung-Fu Fable…”
Those were the first words mentioned about Biomutant, found in an advertisement in GamesMarkt, a German gaming magazine. However, it was officially announced a couple of days later on the 21st of August 2017: since then, the hype and expectations have been growing and growing. Personally, I haven’t been following Biomutant‘s development from the very beginning. I purposely avoided looking too much into it, first learning about it I believe at E3 last year. For open-world RPGs, I love experiencing them with just a basic idea of the story!
I’m sure you have seen by now that initial reviews were extremely mixed. It seems like a lot of players who had been following the development journey for years feel underwhelmed. So, what’s it like for someone relatively new to Biomutant, and does it make a difference compared to someone with high expectations? Let’s take a look in this Rapid Review.
The World of Biomutant
Biomutant takes place in a world both beautiful and frightening, memories of the past only apparent in the dilapidated highways and aerial lines scattered through the fields and forests. Nature has seemingly claimed back its land, but that’s far from the truth. The Tree of Life, a mighty growth at the heart of the world has been poisoned by oil, polluted by a corporation named Toxanol. What’s worse, their waste has lead to mutations, which explains the weird and wonderful creatures you will come across. And, it’s the cause of the 4 giant World-Eaters eating each root of the tree.
Of course, this is where you are in charge of defeating these beasts and saving the Tree. However, there are also numerous tribes split across the world, with various motives. Half want to see the Tree of Life healed, and the other believe it could help their pursuit for power. This leads to you making a lot of choices that affect the story, and whether you go down the dark or light path. Do you want to reunite the tribes, or do you have a lust for power? Revisiting the past also reveals more about your childhood, and how you got where you are.
A Fable Worth Telling?
I really didn’t expect the story to involve the environment so heavily, and have some deep, meaningful dialogue coming from both the narrator and characters. It was also exciting to find out the backstory of your character, without giving away any spoilers! The karma element strongly reminded me of Fable and is a great inclusion to give the player the element of control, as well as the ability to experiment with different playthroughs. Unfortunately, the story overall fell a little flat for me. There weren’t any significant twists or turns, while also being fairly predictable. The ending I received was also severely underwhelming, making me feel little accomplishment in completing the story.
Everybody Was Wung-Fu Fighting
One of the stand-out features of Biomutant was the intriguing use of martial art style combined with both ranged and close-range weapons, alongside powers too. I felt this worked fantastically and was great fun! Rolling like a ninja and releasing a barrage of bullets into an enemy, before slashing them with a sharp blade was nothing but satisfying. Pairing that with one of your powers when you’re in a pickle, like blazing a trail of fire across the ground, makes you feel unstoppable.
Each combination of weapons had its own wung-fu powers and buttons sequences to perform them. If you started a sequence, the next button to finish that move would appear in the right-hand corner. I was glad for this, as it can be a pain to remember every single input. I was impressed that you could build weapons from scratch by collecting parts, putting together pretty much anything you choose to create something unique. A hoover? That makes a great sword handle! I think many will enjoy this crafting system and it gives an incentive to explore all areas of the map in the search for ‘legendary’ graded parts.
I did play Biomutant on easy difficulty so that I could concentrate on getting through the story. This didn’t offer much of a challenge and usually, I wouldn’t mind since I like to focus on the story. But with the story being lacklustre to me, I was left enjoying the boss fights and enemy encounters more, which isn’t usually the case. The combat was a little hectic, the slashes and fires of weapons obscuring some of it while being easy to spam attacks too. But, I think players will enjoy testing out different weapons and move sets at a higher difficulty. You can also choose different breeds, genetics, and a fighter type at the start, again meaning some more control over playstyle and which area you want to be stronger in.
As mentioned earlier, alongside the quest to defeat the World Eaters is befriending, or making enemies with, the different tribes. In the beginning, you have between a choice of two; I went with Myriad, who was intent on saving the Tree of Life. This lead to having to gain territory, taking over other tribes by taking on their forts and fighting lines of enemies. Then it would be time to take on the tribe leader: will you ask them to form an alliance, or will you keep them under lock and key? Either way, defeating a tribe leader would give you their tribe weapon.
Unfortunately, attacking forts was extremely repetitive, following almost the exact same formula each time. Defeat enemies, fight a mini-boss and blast down doors with explosive barrels. There was an option to persuade a fort not to fight too, which I thought would result in some sort of bartering mini-game. Instead, if they said yes, that was it, and the fort was yours. It felt way too simple and also made me feel less involved. One fort for example also made you get weapons to defeat it, but using the weapons was down to your tribemates and ,just like that, the mission was complete.
You’d even get the same cut scene and dialogue after each fort, and while skippable, it was frustrating to see. This repetition was apparent throughout the whole game too. Though each World-Eater was slightly different in terms of looks, where you’d fight them and what with, the overall approach was too similar. Acquire a vehicle/mount, find some ammo (live creatures!) and use a combination to defeat them. Then head back to your old friends to tell them the news, while also having to choose 4 people to join you on the Ark. The Ark is your ticket out of here if the world goes pear-shaped, and you have the ‘light’ option to offer someone space, or the ‘dark’ option to decline them. Again, dialogue is recycled each time leaving me spamming the space bar to skip through it.
The Unreliable Narrator
Speaking of dialogue, a British narrator led you on your journey through the world of Biomutant. Immediately this reminded me of Fable too, and in general, heightened that fantasy story feel. I did enjoy the charm it added to the game, and the use of made-up words or phrases such as the Googlide and Pingdish reminded me of Roald Dahl. It was noticeable the amount to narrator spoke though, saying random lines, often repeated, throughout gameplay. There is an option to adjust the narrator frequency though, which I think players will be thankful for. It did get a little irritating and ruin the immersive atmosphere.
The NPCs all spoke gibberish, which I enjoyed as it really does transport you to a different world. However, this was translated by the narrator after they’d spoken, speaking on their behalf. I didn’t like the way this was structured. For example, he would say ‘thinks you will bring peace to the world’ as if translating their inner monologue. I would have preferred just subtitles of what the character was saying while they spoke to feel more authentic. Though, having the translations spoken is good for accessibility.
A Soundtrack to Match?
Thankfully, I had no issues with the soundtrack; it had an epic feel to it which you’d expect from an RPG, while also fitting the kung-fu theme with Chinese style instrumentals. It would also vary in each environment, from the mountains to underground. You get the classic tense music when combat was initiated or enemies were nearby too!
Since I’m reviewing Biomutant on PC, I can only speak about how the game looked from my experience on my own computer. The whole world design was fantastic, as it truly felt you had a vast open world at your finger tips. The different biomes, from the cracked orange deserts to the lush green jungles, meant no two places felt the same. As mentioned previously, I loved the contrast between a wild nature and broken buildings of the past. It really created a post-apocalyptic world.
The character designs themselves were also imaginative and unique. Though somewhat ugly and grotesque, they were different from the norm and were charming. Fluffy does not equal cute in this game, you will soon find out! Enemy designs all varied to keep the combat fresh, and each main NPC had their own look which was weird and wonderful. The lighting was superb also, and I had to whip out the photo mode to snap some pictures.
However, the graphics were just not what I expected from a title with a £54.99 price tag. For context, though I don’t have the world’s best PC, I was able to run Death Stranding perfectly. The difference in developers is clear. So, it’s important to remember Biomutant was created by a small studio. They don’t have the same money or technology at their fingertips as someone like Kojima. It was disappointing to see frame rate drops, render popping and clipping issues on what I believe is considered a next-generation game. I had my graphic settings all on high, and though the fur detail is impressive, it’s not quite up there.
Worth Your Bio-Bucks?
For me, someone who was more casually interested in playing Biomutant, it was still hard not to be skewed by the hype. I did really expect more than what was on offer, considering its AAA status and price. The kung-fu style combat and strange world seem intriguing, but there’s a lot more to it. Though these elements were fun and highlights of the game, it seemed that each positive was counteracted with a negative.
Personally, I would have liked less repetition in both the quests and dialogue, to create a more advanced story. Most excited by the story, I was dissapointed to be left underwhelmed. I could also not really tell how my choices were affecting the game. Maybe replaying the story will allow me to see how a different playthrough could change this. In terms of replaying, there are a lot of items to collect and side quests as well as experimenting in how you play the game. I will happily go back and complete quests or areas that I have missed, as it’s enjoyable to explore the world and fight enemies with the unique combat system.
Overall, though the concept is brilliant, it wasn’t quite executed well. It just could not make up for the lacklustre story, graphical issues and recycled quests or dialogue. That being said, Biomutant was still a fun game to play through. However, I would wait for it to go on sale or take a look at other reviews to see how it runs on other consoles. Though not a bad game in the slightest, it is also not the high level game that we were all expecting.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2.5 out of 5
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.