Biomutant Review – A Fantastic Fable of Fight and Fury

    Title: Biomutant
    Developer: Experiment 101
    Release Date: May 25, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: THQ Nordic
    Genre: Action RPG

To determine the fate of an already broken world is quite an extraordinary task. Yet here we are with Biomutant, an open-world post-apocalyptic action RPG from Experiment 101, where we focus on animals who run this world full of turmoil. But these animals are not the typical wildlife you see in reality. Rather, we have a great mix of fantasy and science fiction overcoating this animal kingdom with a new look and personality.

In Biomutant, you play as the protagonist furry creature that ultimately decides what destiny the world will experience. This world is shaped by the history of human error and misguidance. As explained in the narrative, the advancements and need for energy in the human world led to the rise of a corporation known as Toxanol. Toxanol made the world reliant on nuclear energy and has carelessly leaked nuclear waste into the environment globally.

Wildlife adapted to nuclear energy, caused them to become stronger as humanity continued to fade away into extinction. Over time, the animals developed culture, language, and technology to become their own civilized tribes.

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Here we follow you, the protagonist of this story. You begin your journey by creating and customizing the type of creature you wish to be. Outside of looks, this character creation has you choose from various breeds, classes, stats, and resistances, allowing you to fully tailor the character to your gameplay preference and aesthetic style. Whether you want to be a tall and skinny creature specializing in mutational powers and charisma or a small but barbaric melee specialist, the choice is yours.

The beauty of this customizability is that you get a solid grasp of what each trait entails for you. Each breed or class gives you the low-down of what to expect from this kind of character in terms of combat and overworld prowess. When it comes to stats, the creator gives a solid base specialty without detracting from the other stats. With your choice of weapons, armor, and level-up upgrades, you can constantly change up your character’s build to your whim.

Without a doubt, Biomutant is one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever played

After creation, you begin your journey with combat and overworld tutorials. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the most captivating feature of Biomutant is the surrounding environment. The graphics are gorgeous and full of vibrant colors. The world you explore continues to awe and surprise as you come upon beautiful sceneries and detailed wildlife.

Even with dozens of hours poured into the game, I can’t help but stare at what’s around me as I explore each new area. It’s easy to tell how much effort went into crafting this vast expanse. Playing on your character’s resistance levels, there are a wide variety of biomes within the world with their own elemental attribute. You could travel from a radioactive cave to a nuclear power plant to an icy tundra, and the environments all look fantastic. Without a doubt, Biomutant is one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever played.

The music of the adventure ranges from fitting to satisfactory. I appreciate how the soundtrack changes to fit the vibe of the scenario, such as a tense and grim beat playing during combat. However, I do wish there was more variety. I’ve heard the same few tracks playing throughout my playthrough, and it became a bit dry.

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Regarding the world, you are given some backstory into the development of “society” since the nuclear disaster. You learn that there are various animal tribes scattered throughout the region, each with its own ideologies and truths.

Biomutant emphasizes decision-making and choice in your story. It’s purely up to you how you want to approach each tribe as you have free reign over your actions. Do you want to become the hero of this world, save the Tree of Life and align with the tribe of unity? Or would you rather see the world burn with the destruction from the Worldeaters and team up with a dark alliance? You can go with whatever your heart desires.

Each nook and cranny of the region provides some incentive for exploration

You also get a small glimpse into your backstory and what brought you to this exact moment in time. While the background story isn’t that substantive, it’s enough to solidify your current context.

What does stand out are some of the major characters you meet along the way. They have wonderful individuality and spirit to them that add a lot of flavor to your adventure. Most err on the silly side when it comes to their personality, but there’s nothing wrong with having more laughs and smiles during your playthrough, as some of the dialogue and design is genuinely hilarious.

The main personality you get to hear is the narrator, played by David Shaw Parker, a seasoned veteran with voice acting in video games and television. He does an excellent job encapsulating a quirky old narrator and breathes a lot of life into the game. Well, for a short while, at least.

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Since the game has fictional animal languages, the narrator translates all the dialogue for you. He also chimes in with quotes, phrases, and idioms as you’re playing through the game. While entertaining at first, the narrator became irksome over time. It’s as if the narrator is an overly eager friend that wants to be involved in every move you make. Luckily, you have the option to reduce his level of input, so that’s exactly what I did.

Nevertheless, there can’t be a focus on making all the characters unique with such a massive world. So this game does suffer from empty NPCs throughout villages and repetitive dialogue options. Your choices throughout the game do affect the dialogue, but its impact seems limited. For example, if you ally with an evil tribe, that seems to be what most of the future characters harp on, wondering why you even did it in the first place.

you get different means to explore as you expand the map.

In later parts, your choices on your ideologies, morals, and alignment affect what’s to come in your future. You even have an Aura level, which shows if you’re leaning towards good or evil, represented by Dark and Light. What’s quite wonderful about Biomutant is that the world builds around what you decide to do, meaning your outcomes and experiences will depend on you.

You’re also not locked to one path, so if you decide to change your mind about certain things, you certainly can. I like the notion that you’re shaping the future of the world surrounding you. It feels refreshing not to have a premeditated story planned out for your character. Instead, you’re making your own narrative.

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The gameplay consists of three main aspects: exploration, looting, and combat. This map is massive, and unless you solely focus on main quests, it will take you a hefty amount of time to even unlock all the areas. And yet, despite the grand size of the game world, there’s no shortage of reason for exploring.

I was worried that such a huge scale has the potential to leave me underwhelmed by some areas, but that is not the case whatsoever. Each nook and cranny of the region provides some incentive for exploration, meaning you’ll constantly want to look around for items, secrets, and more.

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This is probably a good point to mention you aren’t alone in your journey. You also have a bug companion known as an Automaton. If you explore carefully, you’ll find ways to upgrade your Automaton. The upgrades range from healing to exploring aids to combat support.

If that wasn’t enough, you get different means to explore as you expand the map. You can traverse in a fighting robot in the oxygen-less Deadzone or make a speedboat-like device to roam through the deep waters. You also get to ride animal companions on the road, allowing you to add speed and variety to your exploration.

Though some fights are tough and time-consuming, the amount of health you find is staggering.

With the many areas you uncover, you also get to loot. Loot consists of many items, such as health packs, armor, weapons, and modifications to your gear and weapons. A color scheme is shown to provide you the rarity level of said items, meaning you can get a spectrum of choices with your armor and weaponry. If you’re one to explore and hold off on main quests such as I am, you may find some amazing weapons and items that are well worth your time.

With these weapons, you fight a variety of enemies. Depending on your choices, some of the other tribe animals may either come to your aid or harm you. Alongside melee combat, you also have the option to use your martial art skills, guns, and psi-powers, which are energy-consuming psychic abilities you can acquire over time. Some of the powers you have access to will depend on your aura level, so keep that in mind as you encounter your variety of moral decisions.

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Because of the different options available for combat, you can fight however you like. As someone who loves close combat, I went all out with upgrading my melee weapons, but the choice is yours. The combat is quite fun and simple, meaning you won’t have to learn much to engage with your enemies.

Though it’s not tough to grasp the fighting mechanics, I do wish the movement felt a bit more fluid. It’s not bad by any means, but I had a few moments where the direction input took more time than I had anticipated. There were also a few instances where an enemy’s hit stunned my character, and I was stuck in a barrage of attacks with each stun, unable to perform any action.

I wish I had more of a challenging experience

I would also say this is probably the only instance where the graphics don’t feel as refined compared to the environment. Some combat animations can be rough, but it’s pretty minuscule and doesn’t distract from the fights. Despite these small drawbacks, the combat is still addicting and enjoyable.

While I had fun, I wish I had more of a challenging experience with the game. Much of the game’s inner workings prove to be a bit too easy. Even on greater difficulties, the game holds your hand through some things. When it’s not directly guiding you, it almost feels like a parent is looking at you from afar to make sure that you’re doing okay.

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Though some fights are tough and time-consuming, the amount of health you find is staggering. Even “generous” is an overstatement. I would say most of the loot you come upon has some form of health pack inside, and even enemies themselves drop health items. If I ever struggled during a fight, I could easily take one of my hundreds of health items. I think reducing and spreading out the health items would allow for a more strategic and challenging opportunity.

Much of what you explore and unlock are blocked by puzzles. The puzzles are effortless and childlike as you just have to match knobs or dials with their respective colors. Even with the limit to your turns, I’ve never had an issue solving any of these. A bit more variety and challenge to these puzzles would make things more intriguing and not so monotonous.

A must-play for any action-adventure fan.

To add to the monotony are the side quests in the game. Although some are quite rewarding and driven by plot, many others are just fetch-quests or quests to find certain landmarks. If it weren’t for the fact that the world is so beautiful and great to explore, I think I wouldn’t have approached many of these, to begin with.

Luckily, the game understands the free world aspect very well. Because players, such as myself, spend a lot of time seeking secrets and being distracted, the enemies of the world scale to match your character level and difficulty setting. So if you veer from the main quest for hours and you find yourself at a much higher level, you don’t have to worry about finding the main objectives too easily.

As a side note, when writing this review, I encountered some bugs that significantly impacted the gameplay, such as a non-functioning autosave feature. However, Experiment 101 has noted that there will be a big patch on release day, so that should fix most of the issues that I have faced.

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Biomutant comes out the gate incredibly strong with high customization and a stunning world to explore. Players have agency over the adventure through interactions providing an immersive experience unique to the player, making it a must-play for any action-adventure fan. However, the more time you spend in this world, the more you notice where it could be improved. As some missions become less fun with no help from the low difficulty, you’ll likely want to speed past some portions. Still, that’s one small issue to an otherwise grand adventure full of wonderful features, gameplay, and beauty that can’t be overlooked.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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