What will our world look like if we continue to turn a blind eye to global corporations' operations? If we allow them to continue pumping deluge into the oceans, haphazardly discarding toxic compounds, and poisoning the land and air from the burying and burning of noxious waste? If we do not hold them accountable for their actions, then there will be nobody left alive to point fingers at those who are responsible. The baron, poisoned, contaminated land we leave in our wake, will eventually give rise to a new era of evolution. Welcome to a fresh take on the nuclear apocalypse. Welcome to Biomutant.
A New Beginning...
Biomutant is a game that we have all been impatiently waiting approximately several hundred years for. A growing concern of mine is that games are showcased far too early in development. Having years and years to dwell on the possibilities of a game, mostly opens us up to false expectations. No Man's Sky and Cyberpunk 2077 are prime examples of this marketing strategy, only fixed by future patches and updates.
Has Biomutant failed to live up to the developer's promises like others in its stead? Or has the game delivered on everything we ever wanted and more? Take a deep breath of the radiated air. Join me on a little journey through the ins and outs of this unusual spike of evolution.
A Bold Venture…
Biomutant, from the get-go, does its hardest to differentiate itself from other RPG games. As I am sure you are aware of the 'innovative' way in which the game has you creating your character. We have been teased for many years about how the manner in which you customise your character's appearance dictates your starting stats. For example, my character was a little cute fella with a slim build. This dictated that I started with an extremely healthy boost in charisma, intelligence, and agility whereas my vitality and strength suffered a detriment. Whilst not as intricate as I had hoped, it is still an incredibly unique approach to customer creation that I hope gets implemented and improved in later titles.
The downside to this though is that intelligence really does not help in the first hours of the game. It is the stat responsible for magic and mutation abilities' cooldown and damage. But you do not have access to these until you do a fair bit of levelling. And lean heavily into either good or bad karma to unlock karma dependent powers. I spent a good while being pulverized by EVERYTHING until I levelled up my vitality and strength to compensate.
Does anybody remember when the very first Borderlands was announced? Hands up all the other oldies here. The game promised 'gazillions' of guns, but ended up presenting us with an assortment of different guns, and hundreds of tiny tiny tiny alterations of each. Biomutant gives me the same feeling when it comes to mutations.
In all the trailers, we are presented with the illusion that there will be hundreds of different ways to mutate your character. At least, that was the impression I got. A sandbox of almost infinite possibilities. Whether that was a false promise ingrained into me for years, or it was a false expectation I had built up in my mind, either way, the options fall short of what I was expecting. Throw mushrooms down to bounce higher and throw enemies around? Excellent! That looks really cool. Envelop yourself in a mucus bubble to bounce around in? Wow! That looks fun! I wonder what other crazy powers you can develop and mutate!? The answer is pretty much almost none.
Customise and Upgrade!
The flipside to this however is that the weapon customisations and crafting is actually really well implemented. Usually crafting in games gets thrown to the sidelines as something you can do at times. Maybe do it once or twice to pop a trophy. But it really takes centre stage in my playthrough of Biomutant. Relatively lacklustre during the initial hours, it quickly expands into something that is essential to making yourself as badass as you possibly can be.
If you find yourself emotionally attached to any of your weapons or armour, you can use resources to upgrade them to keep them viable options for as long as possible. The resources are mostly acquired from scrapping equipment you don't need. I much prefer this mechanic than simply selling equipment or dropping it as it almost guarantees that the stuff you don't want or need, can be salvaged to make something you do want or need.
This process can also be comical. There is something to be said for increasing a weapon's stats by sticking a pencil on it or being able to craft a weapon with a rotting banana as a handle, or an (obviously used) toilet brush to whack enemies with.
Speaking of comical, it is clear that this is the approach that the developers wanted to incorporate into the game. There is a very whimsical feeling to most aspects of this game, that is never alluded to by any characters. Everything there that is to make us smile is for us as the gamer, and not used as plot devices or cheap character development.
The main way in which humour is used is when referring to items of our civilisation. Everybody in the game sounds like a cross between sims and minions, so all of the talking is done via a narrator. Somewhat reminiscent of Stephen Fry in the Little Big Planet series. The only difference is that the narrator narrates EVERYTHING. From translating repeated dialogue of NPCs, merchants and quest givers, to the story lore, to commenting on the weather and time of day, to making puns mid-combat. It is a cute system at first but can get overwhelming after a while. BUT when you hear him comment on uppy-downys (elevators), chugga chuggas (trains), pew pew broker (gun salesman) and pling-pling booths (phone booths) etc then it brings a smile to your face. Such child-like names are actually very thematic for a new evolution cycle naming our tech.
The game starts in an excruciatingly redundant tutorial trope that feels massively outdated. But bear with it! After the initial half an hour or so, the game opens up and expands at a steady pace. Nothing is exclusively out of bounds and your curiosity will definitely get the better of you. Exploration and looting are the real staples of Biomutant. It is interesting to see what the developers have done with the ruins of our civilisation and what kind of mutated monstrosities we will find lurking in the dark corners of the world.
The small gripes I have with the game are overlooked by the combat in Biomutant. Not as elegant as some RPG titles *cough* Nier *cough* but still holds a decent combat system whilst juggling many different weapons, psi powers and mutations.
There are several different ranged and melee weapon types to find and craft along your journeys. These all offer different fighting styles and techniques for you to deploy along with your arsenal of abilities. Having different melee and ranged weapon couplings offer up some interesting combos to pull off, with helpful UI interface prompts in the bottom corner to help you pull off a combo. These are stylish and a lot of fun to use whilst pummelling mutated monsters and enemy tribes and really give you the icing on the cake when it comes to combat.
Want to smack enemies with a mechanical fist and fling a boomerang around? Biomutant has you covered! Want to dual wield a toxic toilet brush and electric wrench? Biomutant has you covered! Want to drop all weapons altogether and go it alone with your bare fists in a fit of kung-fu mastery? You guessed it, Biomutant has you covered!
A well-timed dodge can have you flipping over smaller enemies, sliding under the legs of larger enemies, or somersaulting over swiping attacks which really gives combat a nice flow, string that with your combos and you have a really crunchy combat system.
And of course, no action RPG game is complete without an activated super combat mode! Spartan Rage in God of War and Ghost Stance in Ghost of Tsushima for example. And now, Super Wung-Fu for Biomutant that can be triggered if you land 3 different combos.
The visuals are a mixed bag of really interesting assets and copy and pasted assets. The interiors of houses, villages, outposts etc all look mind-numbingly the same. This issue is only deflected by the fact that your time in these places become less and less intrusive in the game, as you will find yourself exploring the wilderness more than anything.
The Wilderness is where all the eye candy lives. An interesting mix of biome types includes oxygen-deprived areas, radiated areas, frozen areas etc that are not just for visual divergence. You need to adapt if you are to overcome these perilous areas.
Enemy designs are also really interesting. From mutated monstrosities that can harness powers to strange blobby oil-like creatures to mechanical machinations. There are plenty of interesting baddies to shake your mechanical fist at.
The main NPCs and characters all look really interesting and different in the unique 'evolved critter' aesthetic that the game really strives in. This is let down by peddlers and village folk however as, the buildings they inhabit, are all copy and pasted.
So, the thing about evolution is that it is essentially a biological process of trial and error. This is a fitting analogy for a game that adopts evolution and mutation as main story threads and mechanics because some things seem like trials that never came to the full fruition they deserved. Biomutant is a game that the developers have thrown everything they can at. But having so many different aspects to work on, has left a few areas feeling a little neglected.
The karma system is for example is essentially, in theory, pretty awesome. Whenever a decision pops up that requires you to choose between a good action and a bad option, you have a literal shoulder angel and demon that pop up and talk to you. The problem is, it happens so far and few between, that you forget it is even a thing. Although cute, these little arbiter encounters feel out of place.
Catching animals is another such example. You get a whole dedicated flashback scenario that teaches you how to use a net to catch little critters. If you decide to pet them and keep them, your good karma increases. That is all well and good, but the critters are not in your inventory, they don't go anywhere, you can not use them as pets or companions. They just vanish.
There is nothing inherently bad with Biomutant, I was just left feeling a little wanting from a few things.
This game has not received the best of receptions. As much as I have some gripes here and there with the game myself, unfortunately, it is not the game I envisioned it to be the past few years. The foliage and weather clips through scenery and buildings, dying feels cheap at times, some systems could do with expanding upon, and the UI is in desperate need of an overhaul etc… nothing can take away from the fact that this game is just simply FUN to play.
So, what if the game isn't perfect? Biomutant was designed to entertain. That it does. Biomutant is a fun game to sink a few hours into after a long day at work, and the neigh-sayers who have reviewed this into the grave are not worthy of the 'gamer' title.
In need of a new light-hearted game that doesn't take itself seriously, then Biomutant is the game you need!