This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
A broken world that is more beautiful than it has to be
Within my first hour of playing Biomutant, the thoughts and feelings I had were those of 17 years ago, when I first booted up Fable on my original Xbox. The brand new IP from THQ Nordic, developed by Experiment 101, is undoubtedly inspired from games of the past, in a good way. At its core it is a huge, open-world action RPG with a lot of decision making and even more conflicts between the Tribes and NPCs that inhabit this lush world. Very similar to the title I mentioned above, barely scratching the surface though in regards to the inspirations it has from other games. If you combine Fable’s vibe and freedom of actions, elements of the Batman Arkham series’ combat and Mass Effect’s Paragon and Renegade system, you have yourself the odd love-child that is called Biomutant.
The most vibrant post-apocalyptic world you will ever see in a video game.
You find yourself in a post-apocalyptic Earth, where pretty much everything has gone to waste. Your goal, eventually, is to end the reign of World Eaters, gigantic beasts that are destroying anything that happens to block their path and have proved their dominance over the more civilized creatures. The Tree of Life is what remains as a source of life in this desolate planet, and you will be the only one who can prevent World Eaters from destroying that as well.
There are toxic power plants and radioactive areas all over the place. Not to mention the icy-cold locations that disregard any kind of natural laws, or places completely overtaken by unbearable heat. As such, the most hellish environments imaginable. Even if that’s the case though, oddly enough, the majority of the map in Biomutant is full of greenery and beautiful scenery. While yes, there are ruined towns and villages everywhere, past those lie some really pretty places to explore and even wildlife to either tame or just interact with. When you think of a world where everything reached this state, bright colors and joyful creatures are the least that would pop in your mind.
This fact alone makes the world of Biomutant a blast to explore and traverse through. Sometimes you will scavenge for items in deserted towns, while others you will find yourself stuck in a tunnel trying to find an exit, slicing through a bunch of enemies. There will be occasions where you will be having the time of your life riding a mount, traversing through a fascinating forest, only to end up to a drained power plant full of radioactive beings with no other goal than to hurt you. You will even unlock certain vehicles that let you pass through oil-filled hills, or even the sea itself. Those areas have their own dangers and treasures, so if one thing is for certain in Biomutant, is that you will always have this feeling of excitement in regards to what you will bump into next in your adventure.
Your Aura will decide your destiny and different endings await for you, depending on your actions and choice of Tribe.
A lot of characters are eagerly waiting to meet you in Biomutant. And I’m saying this quite literally. Your character is a heavily customizable, furry little mammal-like fella, who actually has already built a reputation for himself over the years. In fact, this reputation will be based on your actions throughout your journey and depending on what were they, NPCs everywhere will address you as such. If you go down the let’s say ‘aggressive’ route, everyone will keep mentioning how much of a threat you are and that even you can have a change of heart further down the line. If you however chose to help people and act as a neighborhood hero, they will all admire you and treat you with respect. Whatever the case may be, as I mentioned, characters in towns and pretty much everywhere will be able to recognize you in the most part, especially those that are associated with Tribes.
These Tribes are the game’s factions, and there are six of them in total. Three of them are associated with the way of the Light, while the rest with the Dark side. Or to be more precise, Light and Dark Aura if we want to be on par with Biomutant’s terminology. This Aura is also a part of you and the more actions you take on behalf of one side, you will gather points respectively. Tribes will further boost your tendency towards any of the two Auras, by giving you quests and tasks leaning more to their side. You will be able to join one of the two Tribes that will appear in the beginning, one sitting in the Dark spectrum, while the other in the Light, but as you progress more into the story and you encounter the rest of the Tribes, you may change your allegiance to any of them accordingly. The important thing to note here, is that both sides have different end-goals, which will eventually lead to a different ending. As such, don’t treat the Tribe selection lightly.
All of the choices highlighted above, do matter. Every action you take will have consequences down the line, that being a small choice between helping a poor farmer or not, to the bigger ones like which Tribe to join and how to handle their affairs. You will find yourself capturing enemy Outposts, owned by another Tribe, in order to increase your own Tribe’s field of reign. Even if that’s the case though, in the end you may decide to not do this anymore or even spare an enemy leader, which contradicts to a Dark Tribe’s usual behavior of handling opposing threats and vice versa. It really comes down to how you, the player, want to experience the game and Experiment 101 ensured for us to have the freedom of doing so.
Mutations, Wung-Fu and guns.
While most of your time will be spent on exploring vast areas and picking up items from daily-life objects like closets and refrigerators, combat will be the game’s true selling point. Being an action-RPG, Biomutant has the player slicing his way through a great variety of enemies, with very unique abilities and Wung-Fu. There are all sorts of weird Mutations you can unlock as well, that act as offensive tools. You can throw vomit to the ground to poison enemies, spawn a rocky fist from below to send them flying, or even cover yourself with a giant bubble field so that you can trample over smaller enemies and beasts. After all, you are a mutated being, so why not take advantage of it?
Your traditional swords and pistols are here as well, but by utilizing the very easy-to-learn craft system Biomutant offers, you can dual-wield a pair of toilet brushes or even throw a barrage of bullets using a trumpet. You find weapon parts by exploring, earning them from quests, or even buying them from vendors which you can then combine to create something completely unique. The amount of weapons you can end up with is ridiculous, especially in terms of how they look. They can even have passive abilities implemented to them, if your materials do have one included to their kit. Overall, the amount of tools you have in combat is very generous, and since you can customize your main character to your liking and choose the class you prefer the most as well, there is a ton of different setups you can try out. With five different classes (and one as paid DLC making it a total of six) there will be something for everyone’s playstyle of choice.
Combat is fast-paced, but does feel a little clunky at first. As you progress though, everything starts to feel natural and extremely satisfying.
Combat itself is taking place in real-time, right after you encounter any kind of enemies. You can jump into a fist-fight, use your melee weapon up-close and personal, use your guns for a ranged showdown, or embrace your inner Sith Lord and use your Levitate ability to fly around and shoot lightning bolts. It all comes down to how you want to fight, and whatever method you choose, is equally efficient. I do have some complaints for when you just begin your adventure, since it is obvious that certain types of combat don’t really do well, in comparison to others. Melee combat for example is really lackluster in the beginning, when you don’t have strong weapons or a good variety of abilities at your disposal. More often than not I ended up relying on my extremely efficient gun, which was the reason I could live some confrontations. Let me also add that my character was created and customized as a melee fighter, with a lot of extra points to strength and agility, so it’s not like I wasn’t ready for it.
Fortunately enough, this is not the case for long. After you’ve put some hours into Biomutant, the game does speed up a lot. You find items way faster, you unlock a lot of different abilities all the time and you gain levels on a steady pace. After I managed to craft some really good one-handed weapons (a small knife attached to a bone and a suction cup glued on a katana handle), and enhanced them with the toxic and ice element, things were way different. What I realized though, was that it wasn’t the weapons that mattered that much, but the amount of experience I have gathered after a while and the new techniques I had available. Due to how the combat felt from up close, I started using my assault rifle as a main weapon for a good portion of the game. I unlocked some new Wung-Fu and techniques in the process, tried melee combat again and it was a new me. This was heavily satisfying, as I managed to see my progress into this dangerous world, and how much my main character has changed from when I passed that tutorial phase in the beginning.
Biomutant is true to its nature and follows the open-world trope by heart. For this reason, it’s hard to talk about every aspect of the game in detail, since it would make this review so long it would hurt anyone’s eyes. That said, I had a good while to experience a game of this genre that I am invested this much to its world and characters, not to mention its brilliant mix of different types of combat and the easy to approach crafting system.
Playing Biomutant made me think of simpler times, when I just turned my game console on and started playing without a care in this world, or in any world at all. It was me, my old-school 30″ TV and the game in front of me, nothing more, nothing less. While it for sure has some flaws like a slow start, some combat junkiness at first and a couple of cut-scenes that look low budget-ish, by no means they hinder the end result of this great action-RPG. If these weren’t present, a perfect score could have been very possible.
- Score: 4.5 / 5
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Steam
- Published By: THQ Nordic
- Developed By: Experiment 101
- Genre: Open-world, Action RPG
- US Release Date: May 25, 2021
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Playing Biomutant made me think of simpler times, when I just turned my game console on and started playing without a care in this world, or in any world at all. It was me, my old-school 30" TV and the game in front of me, nothing more, nothing less. While it for sure has some flaws like a slow start, some combat junkiness at first and a couple of cut-scenes that look low budget-ish, by no means they hinder the end result of this great action-RPG. If these weren't present, a perfect score could have been very possible."