Biomutant Review – Competent Open-World But Underwhelming Systems
Back in 2017 I wrote an article exploring an upcoming open-world action adventure game called Biomutant. 4 years later I’ve played through the title thanks to a code from Experiment 101 and THQ Nordic. My full thoughts from a 30 hour normal playthrough of the game are below in HTR’s Biomutant review.
I began Biomutant by creating a character from a selection of different breeds and classes of biomutant. These breeds offered various bonuses and drawbacks in certain skill which form the backbone of the game’s RPG class system. Having gone through most of the classes I settled on creating a Dead-Eye furball. This class made my character useful with the game’s different ranged weapons.
After your furry creature has been created you drop into the opening tutorial. This tutorial introduces some of the game’s many systems, and there are many of them. After you complete the tutorial you enter the open-world where the game and story begins.
It’s the End of the New World as We Know It
The main story of Biomutant is standard fare. The world is on the brink of destruction thanks to the appearance of toxic oil that’s seeping from the ground. This oil is poisoning a central World Tree. Attached to this tree are four large branches that extend into different world biomes. At the end of these tree branches are special Worldeaters. Worldeaters are large mutated animals that are part of the world’s destruction and act as the game’s big bosses.
To beat the game you must defeat these four creatures by accessing their biome locations then fighting them in a boss battle. To get to the different bosses you need to acquire special vehicles that allow you to traverse their biomes to takedown each boss. These vehicles range from a mech to a living mount to a jetski. Acquiring each vehicle involves completing specific quest-lines for NPCs that make up the bulk of the main story.
Much of the exposition you get about the world and the story comes from the game’s narrator voiced named the Storyteller. None of the NPCs you encounter speak in a language other than ‘gibberish’ which means the narrator translates what they are saying for you. This made many of the interactions with characters in-game fairly underwhelming and forgettable as you are basically interacting with the Storyteller each time you interact with someone. The Storyteller does give a solid performance it just would help to have a few more not gibberish interactions around.
Choice and Aura Illusion
A major aspect of the story is the game’s story is the choice and Aura systems. There are a bunch of decisions for you to make that contribute to your character’s light or dark aura. How you treat characters you meet aligns your character with either Dark or Light. This Aura then dictates how you interact with future characters and aspects of stories.
This is how the game portrays the system, but I never really noticed if it was working or not. Many of the choices you make feel mundane and pointless and there are a lot you have to make. The Aura system doesn’t really rear its head all that much in any noticeable fashion. This is especially true for the game’s ending. It feel like it sort of just ends and the credits roll regardless of how you played the game.
Things with this Aura system get further muddied as there is a child aspect to it. At times you go back to flashbacks which features your character as a child. These child sequences have their own Aura system associated with them for crafting how characters remember you. Having seperate Aura between adult and child is unnecessary for how little it is brought up in the game.
Exploration and Endless Loot
When not completing the main story of the game you are free to explore a rather large open-world that features a variety of locations and different biomes. The mix of areas in the world is unique and interesting to explore. The different biomes pose threats to you in the form of certain environmental hazards that require having increased resistance by leveling it up your resistance or wearing certain hazard suits. This means you need to actually either level up your character’s resistance or search for the special suits to go to different areas of the world.
Each of the different locations in the game feature useful loot that you will want to collect as you advance through the game. There’s a nice checklist for each named location that pops up when you enter it so you know what can be found in each location. This really pushed me to explore many areas I would normally just ignore. My best weapon I acquired by simply searching a random location as I passed through it during the main story. This randomness keeps you searching and keeps you exploring for the seemingly endless loot you can find in a variety of rarities.
Side Quests Are There But Repetitive
While you are out exploring you will encounter a variety of side quests to complete. These side quests range from helping NPCs to finding different items in the world. I found the side quests to be fairly pointless to complete as they don’t really have any rewards associated with them besides XP. I also found many of the side quests to be very same-y in design. You will encounter things like finding x number of items or solving x puzzles repeatedly. This made me skip a lot of them as I didn’t feel the side quest was even worth the effort. I would’ve loved to see less side quests with the ones left being more memorable and rewarding.
Besides finding gear while you explore the world you will often come across special crafting materials. This system is fairly interesting and unique as you can create some interesting weapons using the materials you acquire. Each weapon has a number of components you can tack onto it to change a variety of its attributes. The components change the look and feel of the weapon and improve things like damage output, elemental effect, and more. I’m excited to see what crazy builds people create using this system.
Combat Systems that Feel Overly Flashy and Not Useful
Combat is a major aspect of the game you will be doing a lot of. There are two types of combat you can use in melee and ranged weapons. Melee for those that like using light and strong attacks and ranged to stay far away from enemies to spray them with bullets. You can have both melee and ranged weapons equipped at one time to swap between them.
I found Combat to be a strange beast as it is fairly flushed out from complexity and stylistic perspectives, but it is severely limited by how dumb the enemy AI is. Most of the combat encounters in the game features one note AI and enemy design. Enemies typically attack on sight and mindlessly chase you around, putting no thought to their own strategies or well being. This means you can approach a lot of the combat scenarios the same way every time without needing to alter your fighting strategy. The simplicity of the majority of the combat meant there was very little reason to deviate from what worked.
This simplicity in combat dissapointed me as there is a number of systems within the combat system I found that basically quickly collected dust during my playthrough. Things like Wung-Fu’s and Psi-Powers, the game’s combo and magic systems, had very little use for me as my ranged weapons could easily take on every enemy I encountered. Other things like special ammo also didn’t see much use as you rarely encounter enemies that need it to defeat them. I would have loved to see more uses for these different aspects of combat through more interesting encounters.
One shining aspect of combat is in the Worldeater boss fights. These interactions mix things up a bit by adding vehicles to combat. There is also some strategy involved as the different bosses have different weak points for you to target and multiple phases to deal with. This made the encounters feel rather interesting and fresh from the slog that is the general world combat. More boss fights would have been very welcome to break up the monotony of what is pretty plain combat.
I got a chance to play Biomutant on the PS5 and found the overall performance and experience to be very solid. The game ran well for me and I encountered only minimal bugs. The game ran solid over the course of my playthrough and that should be applauded for Experiment 101.
Every aspect of the game feels solidly crafted with decent sounds, graphics, and performance. There are also a number of accessibility options available if you wish to tweak settings in the game.
As someone who followed Biomutant from back in 2017 I will say the final product is disappointing. It feels like Experiment 101 promised a lot but didn’t deliver on many of the interesting facets of the game that had been shown. There is a competent open-world adventure title in the experience but it never elevates itself in any area that makes it truly standout. Once I hit the ending I had little reason to jump back into the game (even though it has NG+). There just isn’t enough meat there to want to.