Biomutant isn’t going to win any awards, but it is a pretty action RPG that suffers from a repetitive gameplay loop with boring looting.
It has been almost four years since the initial announcement for Biomutant. We honestly hadn’t seen much of the title since E3 2019, and while the experience here is relatively enjoyable, it outstays its welcome by the time the credits roll.
Biomutant puts players in the shoes of a genetically modified woodland creature. At the outset, you’ll customize your character’s appearance in a fairly modest character creator and then assign stat points for environmental resistances. Throughout the game, these buffs will play little role in the actual experience, but they’re there nonetheless.
The opening here is pretty charming. After that, it turns into a slog as you work your way through the first five to ten hours.
Welcome to the Wildlands
Things open up significantly after the intro and have players ally with one of two tribes. One tribe is focused on saving the tree of life and bringing peace to all of the tribes in the land, while the other one wants to destroy the tree of life. The characters here have a lot of personality, but the narration is so obnoxious and in your face.
None of the characters speak in human words. So after mumbling a few sentences, the narrator reads every line of dialogue to you. It managed to draw out every boring conversation in the game. Since I was reading everything anyway, I quickly found myself skipping all of the spoken parts.
Despite opening up, Biomutant’s world plays similarly to a Metroid title. Dangerous locations like radiation zones, or cold zones, or even zones with no oxygen mean a quick death upon entering – unless you find the appropriate outfit. I mentioned resistances earlier, and these zones are where they come into play.
Generally, if you go into one of these zones without the proper equipment, you’re going to die. Sure, it takes some time for your health bar to deplete, but these areas are rather big. You’ll find yourself taking on other quests looking for the proper equipment set to survive in those areas.
One quest early on tasked me with going into an area with no oxygen, so the game marked the suit that would let me survive in that zone. Going for that, it was on the other side of a cold zone that I couldn’t traverse at the time, so I started doing other objectives. Until I stumbled onto an area I couldn’t complete without the radioactivity suit.
Just a billion more fetch quests
Biomutant teases players with new areas and equipment that only become really accessible until you’ve searched a specific location, but none of the quests here are really all that interesting. I found myself just going from location to location and side quest to side quest while searching for gear that would allow me to get through those hazard zones.
Even the looting isn’t fun in Biomutant. Locations are filled with useless loot. For those who like tinkering with gear, it’s an option, but you’ll likely find a weapon that is strong and one you like to use, use it for a while, and then a few hours later just move onto a new weapon. It’s a missed opportunity for more in-depth tuning. As an RPG, Biomutant should have hit that mark. It really is too bad, too, because Biomutant’s world is very pretty to look at. It should be just as fun to explore, right?
Outside of those hazard zones, Biomutant’s world feels very empty. You’ll occasionally stumble across a fight or a new dilapidated group of buildings, but the pretty facade gives way to shallow exploration and looting areas. You’ll often feel like you’re looting the same areas over and over again.
Combat is king
It feels like I’ve done nothing but complain about Biomutant, but there is some light here. Biomutant really shines in combat. At first, it’s a simple hack and slash game with some ranged combat thrown in, but eventually you’ll unlock enough moves that it turns into a dance of blades and bullets with crazy abilities thrown in. There are enough unique weapons to keep the feel of combat interesting as you experiment with new builds, but I quickly found myself favoring the swords.
Abilities take a little while to unlock, as you have to earn bio-points or psy-points to sink into new moves. This also comes with a third currency in the form of light and dark points that you get for making what amounts to “good” or “bad” decisions in the game. I tend to favor the light side in most games; in games like Mass Effect and Fable, I always find myself favoring the hero path. Biomutant was no exception. I want to play the hero, not the villain in my own narrative.
The abilities are just as wacky as the characters. One lets you create mushrooms that you can jump on to get the height advantage on enemies; others transform your companion cricket into parasails or get him to shoot enemies when you’re in battle. Additionally, you can equip your weapons with elemental powers like radiation that deals damage over time to enemies.
The enemies themselves are luckily really interesting. Most of them outside of bosses will require the same tactics to take down, but the enemy design is one Biomutant’s biggest strengths.
For a game that was built with so few developers, Biomutant is really impressive. It took a while, but with only twenty developers, it sure is a feat. It’s a game that will be worth playing at around the thirty or forty dollar mark. But with so many complaints, it’s hard to justify at sixty bucks with other action RPGs like Scarlet Nexus launching soon.
I will say that the developers have taken a lot of feedback and have already started implementing fixes for a number of bugs and game balancing. So it seems like things might get better for Biomutant sooner rather than later.
Game Freaks 365 received a review copy.