Biomutant is a game that I had a difficult time coming to terms with as I was putting together this review. There are some things I really enjoy while there are some other things that don’t quite hit the mark. The open world is really nice, but the progression system needs work. The side quests are fun enough but there really isn’t a way to tell what to do first. There were times where I wanted to do a side quest on the west side of the map, only to find out a little later that I needed an item from the east side of the map before I could fully complete the quest. The story itself is enjoyable enough but there is far too much exposition at times. The dialogue is a tad long winded and needs to be edited down. They could tell the same story but in a more succinct manner without being so heavy handed in certain areas. On the other hand, Biomutant was made by a small team of 20 people. When you take that into account, Biomutant is a pretty remarkable achievement, despite its flaws. It is impressive how a small team of that size put this game together.
When you start the game for the first time you are greeted with a creation suite to make your character look how you want. You also get to choose what they specialize in and a few other details to kind of fill in their backstory. You will also get to choose their outfit and can change at pretty much any time in the game as you acquire new materials. For example, I might have my character wearing a denim jacket that has an armor protection of eight and then find a flak jacket that has an armor protection of twenty. It should be obvious which one I use from the point forward and it is like that with every piece of clothing. Eventually you can build up a character with some decent numbers, which plays into the RPG aspect of this title.
Biomutant is an action RPG. Combat is done either through melee or long range with different types of guns and other items you can throw, such as a boomerang. As you engage with enemies you will be earning experience points which will allow your character to level up. Once you earn a new level you get to pick one category that you want to improve. It could be Vitality to try and gain some more health, the ability to move quicker, the ability to be smarter which will help you solve puzzles, and many other things. Once you do that there are other things to look at such as acquiring new skills (or improving existing ones), upping your resistance to environmental factors, being able to reload your weapon quicker and a number of other things. You have to decide what is best for you at the moment and I generally enjoyed being able to build up my character as I wanted. The combat itself was fine. There were some times when melee was a more efficient way of handling business and so I would walk up and smack an enemy across the face. There were other times when I wanted to keep my distance so I chose one of my guns. The guns have a quick reload system similar to what you see in the Gears of War game, which is definitely a help in the heat of battle, if you hit the button in time. There were a variety of different weapons for me to choose from such as a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle, a hook shot type thing, and more. It was easy enough to switch between weapons as well as you could do all of that with the d-pad and radial wheel.
The map in Biomutant is fairly diverse with a number of different biomes for you to explore. There is a standard one, a desert environment, some toxic environments where you need the right equipment, a really cold environment, a really hot environment, and more. It was easy to tell if you were in an environment when you weren’t supposed to be. For example, if you were in a toxic environment without the right equipment or right resistance built up, you had a timer. If the meter got to 100% then it would quickly begin siphoning your life and after a few moments it would be game over, so you definitely want to pay attention to what you are doing and what the different environments require.
I mentioned above about how the progression needs some work. That is because there really isn’t a way to tell mission prerequisites. There is a specific instance that I am thinking about where I needed to finish getting parts to build something. One of those parts was hidden in a cave outside of a village. To get inside that cave you have to get to a certain part in the story that gives you a mount that can help you break down that obstacle. I had to look online to find this out though. I spent many minutes running around the cave, around that town, and that general area to see if there was a secret entrance I was missing or if I needed to do something there that I didn’t know about. As it turns out I had not completed a particular main mission at that time so I didn’t have the right equipment to finish this other mission I was on. This is just one example of this happening but trust me when I say something similar happened on many occasions. It got to be insanely frustrating when I was given a quest that I couldn’t complete when I was given it, unless I beat another quest that I didn’t know about (or at least didn’t know about its relation to the one I was stuck on). That system does need quite a bit of work. I really enjoy open world games with their main story and the plethora of side quests…but you need to do the progression right or it just leads to frustration and eventually they might just stop playing the game altogether and move on to the next one.
Once I got through enough quests and I got to a big boss battle, I also ran into a problem with them being a tad unbalanced. The Hoof Puff fight specifically was a real chore to try and get through. None of my weapons seemed to do much damage (and, yes, I was appropriately leveled and my weapons were upgraded) but then when you got him into the second phase of the fight he would hurl projectiles towards you that could completely wipe you out with just a few shots. If you got caught flat footed, or ran into a rock in the environment or whatever, you were toast. It was a seriously frustrating fight. One of the saving graces was that if you tied you would reload at a checkpoint. So, for example, if you got to the second phase and got taken out, you could restart at the checkpoint at the beginning of the second phase and not have to do the entire fight again. I appreciated this design decision but as I said, the whole fight in general was hugely frustrating and made me want to stop playing the game for a while.
I found Biomutant to be a frustrating contradiction when I was going through it. I saw the great potential this game has with its open world, a colorful aesthetic, customization options so you can make the character you want, and more. That stuff was let down by the aforementioned problems though and it is a damn shame. With all of that said, I have to keep reminding myself this game was made by 20 people and when you look at it through that lens, it is an amazing accomplishment, even with all of the problems. My hope is that they use this experience to learn about what works and what needs to be improved and their second title will be better for it. If you are on the fence about Biomutant, there are parts that are genuinely fun and charming. There are those frustrating moments too and it will be up to you to decide whether the fun outweighs the annoyances. This seems to be a perfect Game Pass title and hopefully it goes to that service at some point so more people can check this title out with no risk. I definitely think the development team has something here, it just needs to be refined a bit.
Originally posted on Gaming Target
Note: THQ Nordic provided us with a code for Biomutant for review purposes.