Was the Four Year Wait for Biomutant Worth it?

Let’s travel back in time to Gamescom 2017. It was here that we got the first official announcement for Biomutant from the Swedish game studio Experiment 101. Though the demo mostly showed combat, we saw a glimpse of the massive open-world action RPG title. Many have anticipated the game’s release with this reveal as it looked gorgeous, innovative, and fun.

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Publisher THQ Nordic initially gave a release window of 2018, garnering a lot of attention as that would have been quite an astonishing and ambitious achievement. Of course, we didn’t see Biomutant come to fruition until now, three years after that set window. For the most part, the information about Biomutant’s development was reasonably paltry. A few clips would be released to show some more impressive gameplay, but nothing else was hinted at.

It was only at the beginning of 2021 that we got a better insight into why the game’s development took the amount of time it did. Studio Experiment 101 noted that they spent a lot of time expanding their script, tripling the amount of dialogue from around 85,000 words to nearly 250,000 words. They also mentioned how tough it was to work on quality assurance, which makes sense given the grand scope of the game world. As a slight aside, I found it refreshing to hear that Experiment 101 also didn’t get much pressure for a deadline from THQ Nordic, avoiding those dreadful crunching practices that many other game developers have to go through.

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With all that being said, how well did it turn out? Since its release, Biomutant has received a fair share of mixed reviews. So was the 4-year wait worth it? To summarize the outcome, I’d say it very much depends on the type of gamer you are and what you expect from this experience. I’m hoping to give a concise summary about the different aspects of Biomutant and explain why it may appeal to some but not to others.

Let’s start with what most people would first notice about the game: the graphics. In Biomutant, the game world is beautiful and full of immense detail and texture. There’s no question that if you’re one to really value the aesthetics and visuals of a game, Biomutant delivers exceptionally well.

Given that the world is an animal kingdom years after a nuclear apocalypse, there’s a lot of thought put into the level and area design. The various environments all match the story, and they all look like they represent what the world has come to. You can easily tell the amount of work and heart the developers put into creating and establishing this world.

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When it comes to plot and dialogue, I think this is an area that brings a valuable lesson to the developers. Experiment 101 noted how much time they spent expanding the script to include a novel-length’s worth of words. But to really show a message and story, you don’t need more dialogue. I think you should let the world tell the story for you.

While the game has nice settings, there are plenty of moments where there is an emptiness: repetitive dialogue choices, bland conversation, and lackluster NPCs bog down the user experience. You already retrieve much of the story’s premise from the beginning. So it seems wasteful to harp on the same things over and over again. I think a more significant focus on the characterization of the world and more substantive subplots would give so much more life. If you’re one to enjoy the plot, dialogue, and characters from a game, you may not find this an exciting adventure.

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What does stand out from the user experience is the customizability offered. Not only do you build yourself, but you also build your character’s story and future. There is an immense amount of choices that affect what’s to come. If you’re one to appreciate the amount of input you can have in framing and affecting the world around you, I’d say Biomutant is right up your alley.

The gameplay is probably where you’ll see the biggest split between players and how they perceive the game. For the combat portions of the game, it is not a tight and high-action combat system. It is fun, but it is also mindless, easy, and a bit sluggish. Throw in little to no enemy variety, and it can quickly become tedious and mundane. Since combat is one of the main aspects of Biomutant, this lack of risk, difficulty, and depth will turn you off completely.

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That being said, the other significant aspect of this game is exploration and looting. If you love looking at every nook and cranny of an open world, especially for treasure and rewards, Biomutant absolutely has it.

There are many moments where you’ll go to do a side quest, just to be distracted from something along the way. Though the quests and fights aren’t memorable, Biomutant provides an almost relaxing gameplay experience. It’s the kind of game where you can unwind and chill after a long day of work. For those who appreciate this kind of gameplay style, Biomutant absolutely is worth your time.

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There’s a lot that Experiment 101 can learn from the release of Biomutant. The game presents a lot of soul and creativity from the developers. However, where some aspects flourish, such as the visual presentation and customization, others falter, such as plot detail and combat depth. I personally have had a great experience playing Biomutant for dozens of hours, but I can understand the frustration many may have with the present disparities in the overall picture.

Biomutant is not a masterpiece. The fact that I have to pick the game apart to differentiate which audience it appeals to speaks for itself. That being said, I don’t believe it’s a game you should dismiss either. There’s plenty of enthusiasm and tenacity the developers brought to the game, but there’s always room for improvement. Moving forward, I hope Experiment 101 knows how to manage their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

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