Released on the 25th of May from developer Experiment 101, Biomutant is a 3rd person action RPG with big ambitions. Taking inspiration from the Zelda series you’ll find yourself tasked with dealing with four giant bosses as you explore a sparsely populated, and occasionally downright gorgeous world. There are issues though, starting with that ambition. Here is the good and the bad of Biomutant.
Fists of Furry
First things first, and that means character creation. You’ll choose from a subset of class types and then use a hilarious system for your stat distribution. Moving to intellect gives you a bigger head, strength gives you more muscles, etc. From there you’re thrust into the world and given the first of many tutorials.
This is a decent, and occasionally very good game. There is obvious talent in the small dev team of 20, and a clear goal in mind. Let us make the best, biggest game anyone would never expect. One that has a huge map, tons of quests, a deep loot and crafting system, a mix of melee, ranged, and spell-based combat, and a surprisingly deep (at times) morality system. Surprisingly enough they pulled off most of those goals. While the melee can feel far too floaty overall the combat is fun, well once you’ve unlocked enough abilities to give it the needed variety. The loot and crafting system is excellent if not a bit broken. I made a shotgun not too long into my playthrough that was able to kill most enemies and bosses in 10 or 15 seconds flat if I did a specific combo. Graphically the game varies wildly though. Some environments are gorgeous while others would look at home on a 360 if you lowered the resolution down a bit. So much of this game comes down to the combat though, so let’s break it down.
Melee feels a bit weak most of the time. You float around, and your attacks feel random in when they will stun an enemy. Larger enemies can grab you seemingly at will, and the parry system devolves into button mashing too often as you can get locked into a long animation, and reading enemy attacks can be difficult in all the chaos. Ranged combat is a generous system that feels a bit better, though it can be far too weak outside of a few overpowered combinations. Your reticle is large and if the main part of it is targeting an enemy you will hit them. If you choose to focus on intellect when creating your character the magic system is both satisfying and highly destructive. The spell variety is excellent and at least in the early game, you will be melting enough baddies to satiate even the most fervent pyromaniac.
The main issue I had with the game is how often you repeat tasks. Most if not all the game’s quests are fetch quests, especially when it comes to the main storyline and either fighting (or aiding based on your choice) the World Eater bosses. You start things out with a basic choice, am I good or am I bad? Which breaks down into am I fighting the World Bosses or attempting to help them destroy everything? It’s a basic morality structure that gains a bit of nuance as your Light and Dark levels will determine if you can use certain magic abilities, how conversations with certain NPC’s will go, and more. As I’m not a sociopath I went full-on Light and was the nicest mutant imaginable. There are multiple main questlines and completing them took me roughly 14 hours or so in total. There is a wealth of side content that I could see adding dozens of more hours of playtime in, but so much of it is both boring and repetitive that I feel no need to go back to it. If the game had a smaller scope and a tighter focus I feel like it could have been something truly special instead of just being ok.
The world itself is a mix of beauty and destruction, with the destructive environments being plain ugly in comparison to the verdant fields with their bright blue skies. There is a dynamic weather system and a full day-night cycle as well. Traversing through and around this world is a mix of joy and tedium. Littered in key areas are signposts that you can unlock (by peeing on them) for fast travel. There are various mounts and vehicles in the game though the vehicles are limited to where they can go through arbitrary means. Climbing is mostly automated and only allowed in set places with radioactive yellow sludge serving as a visual queue for when it is available. Mix in a few types of incredibly basic puzzles and you have most of what Biomutant has to offer. It mixes things up by allowing you to bypass certain fights if you have a high enough light or dark requirement. There are several tribes, but I was able to finish that questline without having to deal with half of them due to my incredibly high light level.
Sound is ok for the most part. I’m not a huge fan of the only speaking roles in the game though. Your grasshopper shaped (initially, you can customize the look) automaton is the main narrator and has a twee English accent that didn’t fit the story tonally. The same goes for the Light and Dark spirits that occasionally pop up when you’ve made a morality altering decision. Sound effects, music, and the rest are solid enough though.
I encountered zero bugs during my playthrough on an Xbox Series X, and the game held its 60 frames per second target most of the time. There are obvious budgetary issues during cutscenes though, as animations are quite limited and often I felt like I was playing a game that started out as an Xbox 360 title. Odd cuts and camera movement often had a cutscene startup with everyone standing still, running in a straight line to something, then stopping and going to a black screen. There are lots of stilted transitions like that and it could be jarring at times.
As a $60 title, this one is a hard sell. There is enough content here, but I found it so repetitive that I wouldn’t imagine most would go through it. The story is decent, the gameplay can be quite fun at times, and supporting smaller developers is never bad if you feel so inclined. I enjoyed most of my time with Biomutant, and I can’t wait to see what developer Experiment 101 has coming next.
We were provided a code for review by the developer.