Biomutant is out now and you might have seen the mixed reviews from various outlets already. But is the open-world action RPG from the indie team Experiment 101 bad or not good? It isn’t.
From what we’ve played for around 10 hours in, Biomutant is trying to be a lot of things, and a lot of the sum of its parts is decent. Yet it forms a vary typical open-world game.
That said, it still has one strong element in its DNA that makes it stand out: my god the world is just charming and fun to explore
Furries Save The World
In Biomutant, the world is in the post-post apocalypse where what assume to be humans have left the world in dire pollution, but nature is healing, or so it seems. Amidst the blue skies and lush green grass are anthropomorphic animals that live in the world.
You are one of the many furry animals that arrived back to your haunting ground. The world is dying, and you can either save it from death or make it quick.
Interesting that in 2021 there are two games where animals try to save the environment from capitalist corporations that pollute the world.
What A Charming World
Biomutant is a mish-mash of many cultural influences and it’s quite the mix.
There’s a dash of oriental music as the animals here fight in the martials art of Wung-Fu. The desolated homes found in the lands have a very American architecture to it. And the story is all told by a British narrator reading a script filled with wordplay and puns and fun-words you would think this is a Dr. Seuss joint.
And shoutout to David Shaw-Parker as the narrator. Biomutant characters speak in giberish animal noises that the narrator translates. And the narrator is the ever-present companion to your adventures.
When he’s not translating, he’s filling you in with the plot, or commentate your fights. The voice knows when to be gentle and when to be exciting all in the framework as if you’re listening to an audiobook. It’s fantastic, but can be too much.
Furry May Cry? Not Really
Biomutant’s bread-and-butter gameplay is the combat, and it’s decent. You get your one melee button. You can equip a gun and shoot it anytime. There’s parries and dodges. And it’s decent.
Except for the weapon/item wheel, which sometimes don’t slow down time when activated. And healing items on a one-button press is only available when you are near death, otherwise you have to cumbersomely wiggle the analog stick to get to your desired healing item in the thick of combat. Which sometimes don’t slow down time when you are doing so.
Think of it like a character action game, but with more simplified movesets. I wish it wasn’t, however. It’s easy to just repeat the same combos and button presses to get the job done. It’s lacking in depth.
A way to demonstrate it is how lackluster the upgrades you can get to the moveset. You have different movesets depending on what type of melee weapon (one-handed, two-handed, dual-wield, etc.) and gun (guns, rifles, shotguns, dual-wield, etc.) you equip. And the unlocks for the movesets are either a special combo, or another special combo. You better off stick to a certain weapon archetype until you have the upgrade points to unlock the two movesets.
Because you see, the special combos build your Wung-Fu meter. Do three moves and you can essentially pull a Devil Trigger by going Super Wung-Fu where damage is increased and you get a different set of moves.
Don’t get me wrong, the combat is decent and can be fun. But it’s a case of the developers going wide but not deep. And going wide and shallow means you’ll likely taper off in its fun-ness as more time you spend in the game.
Typical Open-World RPG: The Game
Biomutant also suffers from being another one of those open-world games. You go around the world. Find a thing that catches your eye (or there’s a waypoint pointing there) and head there. Beat bad guys. Collect loot. Rinse and repeat.
It fills that Skyrim and (Bethesda) Fallout itch of go here, fight, loot and craft. So how much tolerance do you have for those these days? I find it fulfilling but that’s for 10 hours so far and I’m not sure I want to continue elongating my playthrough by getting sidetracked and do the same thing over and over.
But at least the loot is fun. You get to collect different clothing and armour you can equip, and cobble together weapons with visibly different parts. If you like min-maxing stats, it’s there for you.
Why Is There Mass Effect Here?
The other interesting feature in Biomutant that I was not prepared for is a binary alignment system. Welcome back to the 2010s where you’re either light or dark and sitting on the fence will have you miss out on cool abilities. So you better double down on what side you think has the best abilities and stick to it right in the end. No need to make any more decisions after that.
I mean, at least Biomutant really lives up to the RPG moniker by having this feature, but the aura system is just as flawed as it was back then. It seemingly punish you for not sticking to one side with no benefits dipping out of that one side other than to role-play.
Biomutant stands out with its interesting world and its choice of story delivery, where the narrator hard-carries a whole open-world game.
The game’s certainly is fun but it’s easy to see why people may feel jaded and tired of what a typical open world experience will be. Especially when the many other elements also don’t make it stand out compared to many games of its genre. Hence the mixed reviews.
But if you really want an open world game to sink some time in, Biomutant oozes in charm that will make you giddy and slightly giggle. I’m enjoying so far, but your mileage may vary.
It may be a great game to buy at a discount, and it’s totally okay to either sit this one out or wait for a sale before jumping into this. You don’t miss out much. But when you do, it’s a charming little critter.
Played on PC. Review copy purchased by the reviewer