A Vast World with a Lot to do
Biomutant is an open world RPG from THQ Nordic and Experiment 101. You play an anthropomorphic animal similar to Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who comes complete with their own form of chemical mutation.
It’s sort of a blend between The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skyrim with some of the best and worst aspects of Fallout 76 thrown in. All three mixed together create its own mutation. There’s its vast open world to explore that is nearly twice as large as Skyrim. The future dystopia feel of Fallout. And the colorful and creativeness of Breath of the Wild. It is by no means perfect but it has charm, is stunning to look at, and is just plain fun.
Biomutant follows the adventures of the lone Ronin, a furry critter mutated by a government chemical spill. SPOILER WARNING. There will be slight spoilers ahead. It has
The Ronin witnessed the death of both of his parents and is searching for the rodent responsible. But along with their own journey there is a second narrative that includes saving the the Tree of Life. Four massive creatures called Worldeaters threaten to kill the tree thus ending all life. It’s by no means a new concept in storytelling but it’s straightforward and sets the tone of the game.
As for the overall lore of the entire world, it can be convoluted and isn’t outright explained. You can uncover details about it along the way by reading documents on boards or solving certain puzzles. The short story is a large biochemical spill destroyed the world, mutating creatures and leaving behind contaminated zones.
The writing is also just bad. There is no sense of character emotion. While individual characters do speak everything they’re saying is long winded and feels like they’re explaining their entire life story. It doesn’t help the narrator talks over their oftentimes cute and adorable tones. Having just one voice for each character takes away any concept of individualism.
The first two hours of the game act as the tutorial which is just poor development. It shouldn’t take that long to get the concept of a games design or mechanics. The first weapon you do actually get to craft gets taken away from you within seconds. Then crafting doesn’t return for quite a long time. It all feels too railroaded and should be more streamlined.
Narrator. One of the biggest reasons everything is so sluggish is the narrator. Every spoken word is said by the game’s narrator and that is its largest problem. He just won’t stop talking. Even now I hear him. It is by no means David Shaw-Parker’s fault, he is just doing his job. It’s his nonstop narration that slows down gameplay and makes every character lifeless. The voice cues never line up with what characters are saying and when you think he is going to speak he waits a few beats before chiming in. This can lead to skipping dialogue but that’s not the worst part as characters tend to speak a lot of nonsense before getting to the point – if they ever do. There is a way to turn off the narration but he’ll still pipe up every during cutscene and anytime you find lore or do a puzzle.
Completing the tutorial – basically after the first boss – allows you to run about the vast world. As an open world RPG, the world should always feel open to travel around. You don’t gain that freedom for at least two hours if not more. Yet when you are finally released from your shackles, Biomutant becomes something a bit different. Something a bit brighter and better. You’re free to go anywhere, craft anything, fight monsters, and just explore. Adventuring is the most rewarding part of the game. Houses, sewars, contaminated zones, and puzzles all present options to collect resources to craft materials.
Crafting. Part of Biomutant’s charm is found in its weapon and armor crafting. There are millions of combinations including swords, shotguns, rifles, knives, and sai. It isn’t the most friendly system and understanding what you need isn’t the simplest but once you have enough gear, crafting is a well worth your time. Unfortunately, you will have to create certain weapons in order to take down bosses. Especially, if you just want to make a straight melee build like we did. There is no prompt to tell you to do this so figuring out on your own in the middle of a fight is annoying.
Clothing and your attire is also a great feature of Biomutant. You can upgrade outfits to become more powerful and dress the character in number of cool clothes including giving them a shirt, pants, hat, and a lot of accessories for their face, shoulders, and back.
Combat. When it comes to combat, it’s really hit or miss – and yes, pun intended. It isn’t the most fluid and enemy hit boxes are all over the place. The majority of the time you have to aim at a specific spot if you’re in melee and that target zone is typically the enemy’s mouth. Attacking their backside or sides won’t cut it. This leaves you open for some nasty attacks and can be aggravating if you jump all over the place to avoid being hit.
Enemies also tend to wander off on their own during combat only to come back a few seconds later with full health
There are multiple ways to build your character though so it has plenty of replayability. You can choose different psionics or mutation abilities and choose to be evil or good. It’s a system similar to Mass Effect although way more complicated and frustrating. The two other voiced characters are just as silly and annoying as the narrator.
Puzzles. Biomutant sure didn’t take cues for Resident Evil when it comes to solving puzzles. There are so many and they pop up just when you don’t want them too. It isn’t that they’re difficult but annoying and repetitive. They range from unclogging toilets to turning on breaker boxes but they’re all done in the same way. All you do is rotate knobs until a success. It’s not rocket science but it is just boring.
Sidequests. Biomutant has so many side quests. It isn’t a bad thing they are just excessive and repetitive. From fetch quests, escort quests, and puzzles you’ll be swimming in stuff to do and it can be overwhelming. Also, speaking of swimming, you can’t and there’s a lot of water.
Visuals and Sound
Exploration is what makes Biomutant worthwhile. It’s about as stunning to look at as Breath of the Wild. The scenery is epic and if you see it you can visit it. Though sometimes – like Skyrim – reaching certain places can be a chore. Although, the lighting effects are a bit overwhelming from time to time and the sun can be blinding and reflects off of everything including grass. It’s a colorful game as well. But the color tends to get washed out during cutscenes and conversations.
The sound and everything from character voices and noises to the natural environment is fantastic. Grass rustles when you run through it and you can almost feel the breeze of air and touch of rain as it interacts with the world.
Soundtrack. Biomutant’s soundtrack is good but short. With around 40 minutes of music tracks are often repeated.
Biomutant isn’t groundbreaking nor is it completely terrible. It sits somewhere firmly in the middle and that’s okay. Combat is shaky and wonky but there are times when things connect and it all feels good. The world is epic to look at and explore and feels like what Fallout 76 should have been like when it first released. To earn a higher score, we’d love it If there was a way to skip the tutorial, get rid of the narrator, and improve combat. What it does succeed at is being fun. It’s colorful, playful, bright, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.