Game review: Biomutant (PC)
Biomutant by Swedish developer Experiment 101 is a post-apocalyptic RPG featuring mutated furry animals and martial arts.
Players are a mutant cat(?), which they can suitably customise in size, appearance, and attributes. Several character classes can also be chosen: Dead-Eye, Commando, Psi-Freak, and Saboteur. Basically, ranged, tank, magic, and melee classes. Players then set out on an adventure to save a world already ravaged by a long-dead human race. To do this warring tribes of furry creatures need to be bought together to save the dying Tree of Life.
The game’s open-world is gorgeous. In fact, the whole of the game’s design is top class. The lighting is great and even the fur simulation on the characters is without fault. I did notice a bit of unfortunate clothing clipping on a major story character, but I’m not going to hold that against them.
Biomutant has a hint of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild crossed with Horizon: Zero Dawn about it. This is a game that feels like a Japanese effort, but isn’t.
The huge world is full of quest givers each with a task for our hero and a suitable reward. You are never left wondering what to do next. The landscape is dotted with the ruins of human misadventure making it fun to just explore and see where the game takes you.
There are settlements where gear and crafting items can be purchased, something you can also do in liberated enemy encampments. There are fast travel nodes that once unlocked make traversing the world a lot easier.
The landscape is populated by friends and foes. There is a vast array of enemy types ready to attack players’ characters as they explore. Some of these enemies have their own abilities. As well as just wandering about, some enemies guard rewards that can be taken once defeated.
The combat grows on you. You start out pretty weak with not much in the way of attacks. In time your furry character develops his Wu-Fu, abilities, and weaponry, as well as bio-mechanical upgrades to become a formidable opponent. This a game that would be best serves with a combat mechanic similar or that of the Batman and Middle-Earth games. The fights in Biomutant seem to want to look like something out of the Matrix with slo-mo dodging etc. but are far too scrappy to really be appreciated.
The story and world-building are very well done. I would say that the narrator, who translates the gibberish spoken by the game’s NPCs, does get very grating.
The ability to upgrade mechanic is confusing and unwieldy. Instead of gaining points that can be used across you characters various skill, it is split up with players juggling upgrade points, Bio-points and Psi-points across an array of difficult to navigate nested attributes and skills. The whole menu system is a bit of a chore.
It's pretty clear that this has been a labour of love for some very skilled developers. The problem seems to be a lack of editorial oversight to polish up a mixture of good ideas into something greater than the sum of its part. As a result, Biomuntant is a game that should be a lot better than it is. At times I loved it and at times I have sooner been playing something else. The gameplay did engage me as much as I’d have liked. I enjoyed the world, the story, and watching my character grow, but it was like something was missing.
Biomutant is a fun distraction that never really lives up to its potential. I hope that the developers see fit to tune the gameplay post-launch or maybe give us a sequel that better serves the wonderful premise.