Review | Biomutant

Review | Biomutant

LifeisXbox’s Biomutant review | The development story behind Biomutant is quite extraordinary. It rarely happens that a new developer pulls a project like this out of his hat. The size, mechanics and the massive world is a huge task for a team that has not yet spent years getting used to each other. For that alone, I highly respect the vision and creative ideas from Swedish development studio Experiment 101. Picked up by THQ Nordic in 2017 and I’m sure it was one of the best studio buys for the giant publisher, really looking forward to what is next for them. At first sight, Biomutant looks like another typical open-world game in a devastated world but there are so many cool elements in the game that it has become super interesting and special to play. Please read on and you’ll find out why this is my biggest surprise hit for 2021, so far.

We played Biomutant for 15 hours on Xbox Series X

What we liked!

  • Exploring a magical world | Without any doubt, Biomutant’s world is the main positive thing I can say about this game. Personally beating Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s world or Watch Dogs Legion’s London. Full of rewarding surprises and visually beautiful, which I will mention in more detail later. It is fascinating and a bit unbelievable that such a small team created such a massive and original world. I’m really in awe of Experiment 101 talent that’s on display here. You are well rewarded in doing so. You’ll find wreck boxes, storage boxes, and things from humanity’s past full of credits or junk to create weapons and gear with the crafting system. You’ll also be able to find shrines and totems upgrading your character stats. In PokΓ©mon’s ‘Gotta Catch Them All ‘motto, you are able to catch all kinds of critters like Glittermoths, Pippis or Guppos finding and collecting 20 of them rewards you with Achievements. But there’s even more, freeing prisoners, making villages safe again, and much much more. Unlike Ubisoft’s typical approach in open worlds, I felt Biomutant’s world was more believable and not overwhelming… despite all the things you can find. So for all you Achievement hunters, be aware that Biomutant is a 50 hours completion with lots of side-quests and additional content.
  • An outstanding visual showcase | Gorgeous, absolutely stunningly beautiful! What really sets it apart is the variety of environments. Every five to ten minutes there is a different biotope, city or underground sewer. All with high details and unique set pieces. Meanwhile, the dynamic weather system and realistic day and night progress give incredible lighting results and change the world drastically. Grass and the fur from your character move along with the wind and every single enemy or NPC looks great and very well designed. As you know Biomutant takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting but I have never seen such a colorful world. Flowers and trees bright up vistas and sun rays show very good effects. Some polluted locations, poisonous or surrounded by heat flares have neat color palettes, resulting in great opportunities for the photo mode.
  • Making and improving your own weapons | We all know how many weapons Borderlands have, well… Biomutant isn’t far from it. There are so many different pieces of junk that can be used for gear or weapons, and even those pieces have room for add-ons. It reaches insane possibilities and once again it shocked me that a small team could create a perfect mechanic like this. It feels magical too, creating your own melee weapons or guns and you can design them with your play style in mind. More importantly, it is a very user-friendly system so you won’t be scared away with difficult controls or unclear explanations. You simply click parts together, see what each part has from bonus damage or elements and create something impressive. It is that easy!
  • A perfect mix of melee and ranged combat | I’m the first person to admit that combat feels a bit clunky in the beginning but when it begins to open up it becomes wonderful and action-packed. It uses a lot of combat ideas from other games but mixing it all together it feels fresh and original. One of my favorite ways of combat is spawning bouncy mushrooms, when enemies touch them they are lifted up in the air allowing me to damage them with my ranged weapon. There’s a lot of tactics available, you can go full-on close combat with a powerful long sword, play it from a safer distance, and poison or burn enemies while killing them with a long rifle, Freeze enemies and aim for combos with cool looking special moves. Variety is key here and massively impressive, upgrading mutated powers, improving Wung-Fu moves and weapon abilities make no character the same. I’m willing to bet that out of 100 players, half of them all have completely different combat tactics and favorite ways of killing enemies. There’s even vehicular combat that changes things up a little!
  • A game designed for Photo Mode | I have been constantly sharing Biomutant screenshots on our socials. I have said it time and time again, you can make some insane screenshots in this game. Like the visual style, world and unique character designs all work together in pushing out wicked screens to share and love. It pretty much works the same way as with Assassin’s Creed games, pressing L3 and R3 at the same time instantly freezes the game and opens the photo mode with lots of ways to create your perfect camera angle. Simple, fast, and I ADORE it.

Somewhere between

  • Basic puzzles that miss creativity | Turning valves aligning them with the right white or yellow color in a maximum amount of turns, counting x’s so a board has the same value and a few other variants. You’ll find these puzzles on objects that humanity left behind, for example, microwaves, electricity meters, or vinyl record players. Having a high intellect stat allows for more rotation turns, making puzzles incredible easy or really hard if you made a character with limited intellect. You can restart failed puzzles but you lose health points limiting the number of times you can try it. It was a nice change of pace but I missed additional creativity with the puzzles, it all comes down to the same mechanic for all of them so later on in the game, it started to feel a bit repetitive.
  • Can a game have too many mechanics? The answer is yes! | A morality system, vehicular combat, crafting weapons and armor from junk, invading enemy outposts, unlocking four different kinds of EXP systems, different kinds of mini-games, combo combat that depends on melee, unarmed, and ranged gear, and a lot more. All of it is vaguely explained and I really felt overwhelmed with everything. It is always nice to come up with something new after hours and hours of playing a game but Biomutant is an extreme example of how it can be too much for a player. And if I’m honest, if the developer would have reduced a bit of this I am sure the game would have been more polished.
  • Audio | Your adventure goes hand in hand with fairly decent music and ambient noise, it is clear that this had a lot of room for improvement but it gets the job done. Likely for budgeting reasons it was decided that the narrator translates what every NPC is saying. This destroys a lot of my interest in the characters as hearing them out is boring. (More on that in the bad section) Sound effects from weapons are a bit disappointing as many have the same sounds and that doesn’t make much sense, but again budgeting reasons I guess.

What we disliked

  • Narrator | They’ve really done something stupid here as far as I’m concerned. Biomutant has a huge number of moments where there is talk, all with strange but enchanting characters. You can’t help but fall in love with the insanely cute creatures and imposing characters. So what did they do wrong then? Each character first speaks an incomprehensible language, a bit like in The Sims, and then the narrator translates what has been told. As a result, conversations take twice as long and half of the time you are looking at the screen for nothing. I get what they tried to do with the narrator but it failed miserably for me, as a result, I completely lost focus on the story and honestly hated every freaking conversation… meaning I skipped most of it. Nothing negative about the voice of the narrator, done by David Shaw Parker but hearing the gibberish first gets tiresome. (PATCHED: players are now allowing to select if they want to hear the narrator, the gibberish, or both when talking to NPCs. the amount of gibberish spoken before the Narrator starts is a bit reduced to)
  • Performance isn’t always butter smooth | Technically there is a lot of room for improvement, as frames aren’t always stable. Once in a while, you’ll come across some visual bugs like floating enemies or falsely placed objects. You’ll find this kind of bug in every game but Biomutant has it much more than average. Another more annoying one is being stuck on the floor or simply falling through them, this happened rather frequently and will hopefully be patched in the future. The performance isn’t reliable, something I predicted when I started to play this game. You simply can’t polish a game with this size of world and mechanics with a small team, even with five years of development.
  • The story misses value and meaningful interactions | Biomutant’s basic story has a lot of promise. Humanity poisoned the Earth forcing them to leave the planet in search of something new. Meanwhile existing animal life as we know it was killed or mutated into smarter human-like beings. With your self-created character, you try to save an enormous tree that keeps the newly changed Earth habitable. Large and strong monsters called Worldeaters are destroying that tree and the main quest is to stop them. More story depth comes from all the different animal tribes but that’s really underutilized, there’s no real connection with the visually interested characters. Nothing majorly shocking happens, nothing emotional or surprising. So the initial story starts strong but mutates into something disappointing after a few short hours. Potential however was huge, to be honest, Mass Effect huge. With the unique cast of characters and backstory, you could have done so much more. While exploring the world the evidence of humanity is everywhere but not many words are spilled on it, this would have been one story element that I wished was more present. Or the rivalry between animal factions could have been more meaningful, now it feels like filler-content to have a reason for all the take-over forts quests. I think from all the games I ever played Biomutant has the biggest wasted story opportunity.

How long to beat the story | 15 hours How long to beat 1000 Gamerscore | 50+ hours
Similar with | Open-world games from Ubisoft

CONCLUSION

85%

I applaud Experiment 101 for their talent in creating a magical and beautiful world and the combat and crafting mechanics. For me it is clear that Biomutant is a very unique game that open world fans will love! I’m very, very curious to see what’s next for the franchise and developer. I am convinced that this team is the most promising newcomer in the gaming industry!
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