Biomutant is an open-world action RPG developed by Experiment 101 and is their first major endeavor into an open world experience. Here’s what we thought with our review.
+Gameplay absolutely shines
+An absolutely beautiful world design
+Creature design is unique
-Lack of choice
-Partially let down by its narrative
Biomutant is an open-world action RPG developed by experiment 101. This fledgling studio is starting out with a lot of attention and big shoes to fill. The hype train started with Playstation shining a spotlight on a gameplay trailer that was put out and the rest is history. As you begin the game proper you are introduced to an impressive display of texture and design that literally throws the world they designed straight into your face. This sets you up with expectations that you will have your MIND BLOWN! And while this is true in many respects this sets up the player with unrealistic expectations from the get-go. Biomutant is an impressive game that does a lot of great things with exploration and player choice, but those triumphs are marred by a story that needs just a bit more work to keep up with the rest of the game’s mechanics.
Technically, Biomutant is beautiful! The world is vibrant and uses color to display how the developers wanted you to know things were going to be weird. The use of color puts the creature’s designs on full display from the get-go and these designs are certainly unique. There are few ways to make me raise an eyebrow (I was working on a biology degree so I have seen some odd designs in nature), but the mixture of rat/ dog/raccoon is something that you would think would be terrible, but actually made me go awwww.
The world follows the same theory as creature design, save for one thing, you can still see the remnants of the previous inhabitants of the world you live in and they left a whole lot of trash lying around! The mixture of natural beauty and post-apocalyptic destruction sticks with the theme of using design to offset expectations.
The narrative is something to discuss
Now for the narrative… I believe in there being many ways to share a story when you create a world. A developer/writer can use all sorts of plot lines and narrative threads to share how their world will play out. This is what will truly share how a game is taken by the player and here is where the amazing design of Biomutant is partially let down. The narrative is easily predictable and does nothing new for the player. Any player that has seen a kung-fu movie can easily predict the pacing. The story beats are on the same path as that same kung-fu movie and the character development is, well, not exactly there.
A silent protagonist makes the player’s choices seem impactful but this game gives the illusion of player choice. You can choose to be a jerk or a nice guy certainly, but there are no real ramifications to this choice other than skills that lock or unlock (and also your aura color which I must admit was a nice touch). The ending is also based on these choices and that makes it feel important, but it becomes apparent partway through the game that there was too much choice given to the player and that actually hurts the final results.
The choice I’m referring to is choices between tribes and world eaters (the name for the bosses). You can make choices that hurt your aura and make you evil-ish, but then you can turn around and make decisions that save the world. This adds realism to the proceedings but gives no guidance to the player and basically gives you too much choice.
As a framework for a game, this design is worthy of praise, but the sheer lack of story makes the game appear as more of a martial arts playground with a few guideposts to light the way. Open world games are known for stories that give you the freedom to make your own fun out in the wilds, but there must be a point where a balance is struck and Biomutant just slightly misses that mark in the story department.
Gameplay is not just about combat
Gameplay is the most important part of any game and this is where Biomutant truly shines. The beautiful world makes a wonderful playground to practice martial arts against the enemies that are left in the world (though do know this world was harmed by an ecological disaster so there are no teeming wildlife and life forms to battle with). Taking on those enemies will be a lot of fun with the myriad weapons to craft and armor to make. This crafting system lets you take junk parts that are not even a little useful and create a weapon that will slice, dice, and then heal you with the damage you gave to your enemies.
The armor crafting is also spectacular because you can add pieces to armor to make that armor stronger and boy will you need it because there are enemies to fight. However, the monsters that were made are not the friendliest and do not want you around (or anyone for that matter) and will do their best to make sure you don’t bother them, or their mother, their cousin, or even the neighbor’s friend.
They really want you gone and will attack you on sight and this is a nice change from the standard enemies of other factions. The factions also fight the way you do and will do their best to make sure that you do not hamper their goals. Those fights are regular old take em out types of fights that are nothing special. The one exception is the Sifu (leader) of each tribe, they are very good fighters that require more patience and planning, look forward to these fights, they are fun!
All in all Biomutant is the definition of a mixed bag. The gameplay is fun and the world is beautifully designed. The story is not amazing and leaves too much to the player. Open world playgrounds can be great times and are fun to explore and find all of the secrets in (and oh boy are there secrets in this game to find), but that doesnt mean the weak story will not hamper the experience a bit.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Experiment 101
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Available Now
Taking everything into account you will really enjoy the world and those in it, but do not expect the story to be the driving force of the experience. If you are a fan of making your own fun with a fantastic playground and tools to do it with then Biomutant is the funky little duck to try out.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Zack Patton is a contributing writer who has a love for music, Final Fantasy XIV, and a game with a story that can capture one’s imagination. His expertise comes with his ability to deeper understand, explain, and evaluate games, their stories, and their impacts in unforeseen ways.