Biomutant Review

Matt Lorrigan

Booting up Biomutant for the first time, you’ll find that there’s more than just a hint of tabletop roleplaying to this decidedly digital offering. You’re tasked with choosing a race and class, each offering a different spread of stats, with options such as intelligence and persuasion, on top of the old standards like strength and agility. Seeing this, it’s easy to assume there’s more to the game than simply hacking, slashing, and shooting. Indeed, the whiff of the D20 lingers even once you start Biomutant proper. There’s a light and dark alignment system, and you even get your own pocket dungeon master in the form of David Shaw Parker’s narrator, who fills you in on the history of new areas, and voices each and every NPC in the game with a distinctly British chipperness.

Biomutant’s beginnings might betray its dicey heritage, but once you first step foot into the game’s open world following a brief tutorial, you’ll find yourself smacked in the face with Video Game. Lush green foliage, dilapidated ruins of humanity, big toothy monsters - it’s all here and accounted for within moments. You’ll even stumble across a waterfall on your way to the first objective, and, sure enough, should you investigate, you’ll find a hidden cave with loot, tucked away behind it. Developer Experiment 101 knows exactly what it's doing, and it's determined to make a good first impression.


You got any massive guns, mate?

Biomutant sees you slipping into the skin of a small, furry warrior in a world that was ravaged by pollution and climate change. All the inhabitants appear to be some form of fluffy mammal, and while you’ll find remnants of a human civilisation during your journey, it appears our time on the planet is long gone. The creatures that have survived, have evolved with their own villages and tribes, and they are determined to learn from the sins of those that came before.

The themes of environmentalism found here are less subtle than a machine gun to the face, but there’s a certain charm to the way the game depicts them. Images of thick black goo streaming into rivers, or the urine-esque green fog that surrounds some of the polluted areas in the game, bring back memories of ‘90s Saturday morning cartoons, with their cackling villainous CEOs happy to leave behind a broken world in their wake.

It’s difficult to tell if this is intentional or not, but it’s certainly backed up by the comic book-style ‘POW’ exclamations that appear when you get into combat. Whether it’s a boss battle with a rival tribe leader, or a mob of fluffy dinosaur creatures, you’ll take two main things into a fight - a melee weapon, and a big ol’ gun. Biomutant gives you a few combos to learn, some of which have to be unlocked, and pulling off three unique combos unlocks a special ability, giving you temporary extra power and some nice slow-motion finishers. The influence of classic ‘gun fu’ films is apparent here, but it can soon get quite repetitive, and the only way to really mix things up is to craft some new weapons, using scrap found around the world.


These can be cobbled together using all kinds of leftover rubbish, from actual gun parts, to discarded bits of vacuum cleaners, or even toilet brushes. It’s thematically appropriate, given how committed the denizens of the world of Biomutant are to recycling former scrap, like an army of genetically mutated Wombles with machine guns. It can be good fun, too, especially once you get past the first few hours of the game, and begin unlocking more interesting weaponry, such as electrical clubs, or a rifle that fires saw blades.

Biomutant’s visual design and wacky weapons may give off vibes of early noughties platformers, like Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, or Blinx the Timesweeper, but it’s far more easily compared to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Assassin’s Creed. Most main quests can be completed in pretty much any order, or you can simply go off and do your own thing, picking up side quests, and wandering from place to place. Like most RPGs, you’ll gain XP and level up, earning more abilities, and investing points into new stats.

Unfortunately, despite the apparent D&D inspiration, you won’t find that many options when approaching most situations. Combat is nearly always mandatory, meaning it’s best to just invest all your points into strength, agility, and health. Meanwhile, we found fewer than a dozen opportunities to use our persuasion stat in over 25 hours of gameplay, meaning any points invested in it were basically wasted. The morality system, too, is threadbare, as you find yourself railroaded into picking dark or light right at the beginning of the game. Despite the assertions of Biomutant’s narrator to the contrary, there is very clearly one ‘good’ tribe to side with, and one ‘bad’ one. If, for example, you’ve picked the light side, and committed to your alliance, there’s never any reason to choose a single dark decision or dialogue option, especially if you’re looking to unlock the best combat abilities. It feels like these systems were meant to be more fleshed out, but they never really go anywhere.


I'm here for the teeth whitening, guv.

In fact, Biomutant as a whole suffers from this problem. It somehow feels like Experiment 101 crammed every idea it had into the game, but didn’t develop any of them enough. As a result, Biomutant is a game stuffed full of different systems, but none are as deep as you’d expect, and they very rarely interact with one another.

This is perhaps to be expected - Biomutant is a huge game, from a comparatively small development studio, and it shows. Despite the gorgeous vistas, the game’s cinematics and cutscenes are quite rough at times. Having one narrator voice every NPCs feels as much like a cost-cutting method as it does an artistic decision, and can make it difficult to get attached to different characters. And even when running the last-gen version of the game on next-gen consoles, technical problems persist, with assets loading-in late and frame drops when moving quickly through areas.

It may not be as polished as other open world action-RPGs on the market, but Biomutant’s charm and stubborn scrappiness will likely win you over, eventually. It’s flawed and a little mechanically shallow, but the world that Experiment 101 has created is legitimately beautiful at times, and has a personality unlike any other game out there. There’s missed potential in Biomutant, certainly, but what is here, is strangely engrossing.

Biomutant

Biomutant is a scrappy and charming open world RPG, but despite its many systems and gameplay mechanics, there isn't enough depth and direction to make this game truly great.

Form widget
65%
Audio
70%

The ambient noise and subtle music found when exploring the world sets the tone nicely, but having one voice actor narrate the entire game can become grating, and makes it difficult to grow attached to different characters, despite the excellent work done by David Shaw Parker.

Visuals
75%

Often, you'll come across a vista in Biomutant that's really visually stunning. But the visuals are let down elsewhere, whether that's in stiff cutscenes, performance problems, or some strange lighting glitches.

Playability
70%

Once you settle into the moment-to-moment rhythm of Biomutant, it can be easy to lose hours to it, but the high frequency of combat encounters can quickly grow tiresome.

Delivery
60%

Biomutant delivers a lot of different gameplay systems in its open world, but very few of them feel fully developed, leaving the game with a distinct lack of cohesion.

Trophies
70%

A fine list. There's plenty to do here, without anything that should prove too difficult, but there's not a ton of imagination on show either.

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