Initial release date: May 25, 2021
Developer: Experiment 101
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Mode: Single-player video game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Genres: Action role-playing game, Nonlinear gameplay
"Review Copy Provided by THQ Nordic"
Biomutant is a game that I honestly never thought was going to be released given how many years had gone by since the initial announcement of the game. I was under the impression that this was going to be another Duke Nukem Forever type of situation and be stuck in development hell given how small the team at Experiment 101 is and also the fact that we have a whole new console generation, and yet, here we are so many years after the initial announcement of the game with the final product. The question now is does this game deliver a great and original experience or does it arrive half baked in ideas and execution? Let’s find out!
The crux of the branching story of Biomutant is the “Tree of Life” that has been affected by natural disasters and pollution as well as the five mutated beasts that are gnawing at its five roots of which threaten to kill the tree before its able to heal itself. There is also a dynamic between six factions/tribes each with their own agendas yet falling under either wanting to heal or destroy the tree in order to bring balance to the world.
This is a bit of a mixed bag as the controls are either hit or miss and more often it’s a miss and I’ll explain more in depth. So the controls are setup as both a 3rd person over the shoulder action hack n slash while also being setup like a 3rd person shooter and unfortunately this game doesn’t excel in either department given how clunky it handles. You have your controls laid out with buttons for jump, attack, shoot, dodge, parry, and interact with your left stick being situated for movement and the right stick for aiming leaving the directional buttons for your quick access and item wheel.
Since I’ve laid out how the controls are set up, lets dive into why it doesn’t fully work as expected. There is no manual lock on for attacking so if you’re using Wung-Fu or melee weapons then you have to make sure you’re facing the enemy you want to hit otherwise you’ll be blindly flailing about and what’s more is you’ll need to make sure you’re facing the enemy when they go about trying to attack you as you can often parry their attacks but will need to see the tell tell that pops up above their head and lets you know they will be aiming to attack you. Now there is gunplay as well but the problem with it is it feels sloppily integrated and loose at times. You shoot your gun with the right shoulder button and reload with the front shoulder button and for whatever reason it just feels like your aiming and shooting are a struggle with controller yet with keyboard and mouse it doesn’t feel as unwieldy.
When attacking the enemy with your attack button; you’ll sometimes be prompted to hit the parry button which will send your opponent flying of which you will automatically follow them in the air for a midair juggle attack. What sucks about this is that while you’re doing this juggle you will be wide open for attacks from any enemy in the area and will take damage. Sometimes when you’re attacking, you’ll get a prompt to press Triangle (if you’re playing on the PS4/PS5) to do a combo attack which at times will be a heavy-ish area of effect style of attack and will do a decent amount of damage and knock back the enemy.
The game is open world also allowing you to roam and explore it while also giving you the choice to take on side quests alongside your main missions of which will have you decide to either align yourself with light or dark making decisions to be either good or evil. What’s interesting is that you can be literally be locked into either the good or evil ending within the first hour of the game based on what faction you align yourself with and thankfully the game let’s you know and warns you before you settle on a decision. Given the whole Good/Evil alignment that the game is based around also decides what powers and abilities you gain as you progress in the game which does give it some replay value. When interacting with other characters you’re given several choices on how you want to respond to them and those responses ultimately decide if you are going down one path or the other.
There’s the character creation or Biomutant creation when you start a new game and select what class you wish to be which also determines what Biomutant race you are. Going further with the character creation leads you to decided what you want you base starting stats and buffs and affinities to be such as being more physically strong yet intellectually lacking or having high agility yet low defenses; the customization of your stats is pretty deep. The designs of your Biomutant can be altered to have differing furs and fur patterns which is pretty neat allowing everyone to have a distinctly different character and character build than another player. You can apply points earned from leveling up your Biomutant to increase your various stats along with being able to allocate them to being able to gain new abilities and psionic powers. There’s also a crafting system that is in place to craft new weapons and armor along with allowing you to beef up what equipment you may currently already have and dismantle others you no longer need.
As you explore more of the map, you will find area waypoints to approach which allows you to be able to fast travel back to where you’ve been and what’s funny is that when you get to these posts your Biomutant pees on them before it goes to the map screen.
Yet another area that is a mixed bag is the graphics department as there are moments when this game looks downright stunning and then others where the game looks…….well like an early PS3 title with very low poly textures not to mention repeated textures along with draw distance and texture pop-in which is shocking to see in 2021. Character models are serviceable and yet they feel like not much went into making them stand out as you’ll see the textures used for their fur being blurry which maybe done to make them look more realistic maybe? Then there’s the environments where you’ll have incredible looking flowing bodies of water and enormous vistas and then you’ll get grass and trees and foliage that sticks out like a sour thumb.
Character animations are also hit or miss with either flowing semi-realistically and other times it just looks downright bad.
I really don’t have much more to say on this area of the game.
There isn’t much to talk about here as there isn’t much in the way of music and there isn’t much in the way of voice acting other than the narrator who speaks to you and translates the Biomutant language and the good and bad spirits that occasionally pop up. That’s about it.
The characters all speak in a gibberish similar to something you’d find in Banjo-Kazooie or Yooka-Laylee which in many ways works and yet also takes you out of the immersion of the game especially when the narrator takes so long to speak out things you can easily read yourself and much faster than he can speak it to you.
I’ve covered the bulk of the issues with this game but the biggest downside I feel is how slow and monotonous the first hour to three hours of the game is which is an absolute drag to get through. I found myself falling asleep due to how slow and boring it was. Once you pass that it picks up in the fun factor even with its numerous issues.
Second thing I’ll mention here is how the game has so many repeated and recycled scenes that you’ll experience such as in the beginning when you decide on what faction you’re going to align yourself with as both will have almost the same dialogue and responses to your choices and the same animations too. There are many more instances of this but let’s just say it’s quite obvious only 20 people worked on this game.
By this point you may have seen or heard numerous reviews that have told you “DON’T BUY THIS GAME” or something of that ilk and are wondering what am I going to say given how many issues I’ve brought to light in my time with this game and honestly I’m going to say……………it’s actually not a bad game even with the flaws and is worth a playthrough. Is it worth full retail value? Not in anyway shape or form in my opinion, but if you can get it on a discount around the 30$ range then I’d say it’s worth investing in and seeing a lot of the potential that this game has that it both does and doesn’t live up to. It’s not anywhere near as bad as many YouTubers and games journalist have made it out to be, yet it’s not a diamond in the rough either. For a first game from studio Experiment 101, Biomutant isn’t too bad but is definitely held back from being a great game due to so many shortcomings and technical issues. It's Fable with furries except not as good as Fable.
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