Biomutant has been a long time coming. It peaked my interest just from the cover photo that was shown 2017 and labelled as a Christmas release. Here we are four years after the initial announcement, and it’s available to the masses for all current systems except the Nintendo Switch.
We have seen a fair few games over the past few years set in an apocalyptic world with the likes of Mad Max, Metro Series, Fallout 3, 4 and New Vegas as well as Fallout 76. All of these worlds see the outcome of nuclear war with barren landscapes and destroyed human habitats, which remind you of the town of Pripyat after the Chernobyl disaster.
Biomutant is a welcome change from the gritty realities mentioned above. Humans have either died off as a species on the planet (you do occasionally come across skeletons dotted about the landscape) or left on Arks to the stars. The world was poisoned by the Toxanol Company and the pollution they created in the water and causing various toxic areas to appear (much like the radiation zones in the classic Stalker series).
Much like Jurassic Park, life finds a way, and nature starts to reclaim the land while the animals start mutating so they cna walk on their hind legs and have their own language. The world in which the game inhabits is truly beautiful and very tranquil at times. You do have the various delapadated towns, cities, rail stations and other chemical plants dotted about the map, but these have been taken over by nature and are bright and colorful unlike other destroyed worlds. The rolling green hills to the large beds of water the world created keeps you hooked and wanting to see what is over the next horizon.
The Tree of Life sits in the middle of the large map, with its huge roots sprawling out over the landscape and up into the air. The world looks amazing to say the least, and you do have a day and night cycle which sees different enemies coming out at nights. You can literally stand and watch the sun rise and then, over the course of time, travel across the sky and set. On top of the day and night cycle, it does occasionally rain and the effect is absolutely awesome.
Starting out, you choose the type of mutated animal you want to become. There are five different species from which to choose, each with their own ups and downs with the initial stats. However, you can put points into anything when you level up in-game. Once you have selected the character, you will then be able to modify both stats and look. You have a circle, and at 5 points, you have the different stats so, for example, moving towards strength really makes your upper torso become bulky, you have skinnier legs and a smaller-looking head. Closer to the edge adds bonuses to the stat you are heading towards, as well as changing the appearance.
After that, you can choose the colours you want – over two different circles, you’ll move a dot around to where you want for primary and secondary. It’s neat and it works so you can get your character looking exactly how you want them to. Next, you’ll choose a class as which to play. I decided to go with Dead Eye, which is melee/gun combo but stronger, with ranged weapons. You can choose Commando which is shotguns and close combat, PSI Freak – using abilities over weapons, while Saboteur covers fast-paced dual-wielding, while, finally, Sentinel, which is a good all-rounder.
At the start, you’ll be introduced to the auras which are light and dark, and these come into play with the skills you can unlock. Certain skills will only be available when you reach a set number of points. In addition, certain conversations can play out a bit differently, while success can come down to having a stronger light or dark aura. As an example – if you decide to keep the Tribe War going to get their specific weapons when you attack the main fortress reaching the leader, you will be able to get them to surrender the fort via conversation choices. The aura also comes into play at the end of the game, and ties in with your tribe choice at the start. In all honesty, the aura is cool, but could have been used to better effect with choices throughout the game, but it serves its purpose and highlights the duality of man with good/evil etc.
The gameplay, itself, is an open-world design, and before long, there will be icons all over the map for you to go and explore. The main quest is either having to save the tree of life or destroy it, and to do this, you’ll either join the Jagni tribe at the start who are warmongering, dark aura-aligned and want to destroy said tree to reboot life, or you will join the Myriad tribe – who are light aura-aligned, allowing you to save the world, the tree, and the world inhabitants. You have to kill the four World Eaters who are destroying the huge roots, however. You cannot just go off and kill them immediately though.
Each World Eater has it’s own specific way of being handled, which includes horseback (I say horse but it is a specific mount), a large mech, a water craft and a submarine. They also have a distraction you can use to fire at them at certain times, during the battle, so you can use the time to get out the way and make a good counter-attack. It’s not just a case of getting these modes of transport either, as you will have to obtain parts and also capture the specific ammo type for the battle ahead. But (there always is) extra stuff you may have to do, such as picking up one of the five environmental hazard suits to be able to go into specific areas, or the water craft needing a level 3 engine, in order for you to be able to get to the North Eastern World Eater. All the tasks have a purpose before heading off to slay one of the huge beasts.
Other than that, there are loads of small quests from characters in the villages, such as one quest to use a lighthouse to show a cave, housing an amazing sword that you can use right through to the endgame. Then there’s the collections of old-world tech like TVs, dial telephones, record players and so on; there are usually five of each to be found. Once you find them, you’ll obtain specific gear once you solve the basic ‘line stuff up’ puzzles, which are simple enough as to not become annoying (like the piano puzzle in the classic Silent Hill, for which you had to write it down to solve, it was that complex).
Combat is very similar to Devil May Cry and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and will see you zipping from enemy to enemy, hacking away at numerous foes, or keeping a bit of distance, thinning the numbers with a ranged weapon before taking out a larger enemy. The only thing I found lacking with said combat, is that you cannot manually lock onto an enemy. Hence, at times you’ll miss a strike or shot. Since the patch it isn’t as bad as it was, though, in all fairness. You have the Wung-Fu take on Chinese martial arts, and there are different attacks for the different weapon types you will have. You can unlock extra attacks when you level-up, so can find a weapon that suits your play-style.
You may have heard about the narrator… at times it can be quite annoying especially when talking with other characters, as you get the animal gibberish first, then said narrator tells you what they are saying, like a translator making scenes last longer than they should. Thankfully, with the patch, you can adjust say the gibberish to simply not be present, so you hear the speech straight away. The voice work is done by David Shaw Parker, who has done plenty voiceovers for games over the years, and actually sounds like the late, great Peter Sallis from Last of the Summer Wine and the Wallace & Gromit series, and I feels this adds to the storytelling.
Biomutant is everything I hoped it would be. There is so much to see and do, and I feel I have barely touched the surface with this review and over 35 hours played (hence taking a little longer with this one). You can plainly see Biomutant is a work of love from Experiment 101, who are a small developer with around 30 people. What they have created is a game that is as much fun for kids as it is for adults.
Overall, Biomutant isn’t just a typical open-world experience, as it has heart and soul with all the likeable characters and should be experienced by everyone. I certainly hope we will get a sequel, given the way it ends, and with a bit of luck, it won’t take as long to come out!
A big thanks to THQ Nordic for supplying us with a code for the PC to be able to review the game.
- Developer: Experiment 101
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Players: Single player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!