One part hampster, one part tree frog, and a whole bunch of randomized confusion make up the elements for Experiment 101’s newest game Biomutant. On the surface, the game was pitched as being a Kung-Fu action adventure with some RPG elements and an open world design that will give players a plethora of outlets to explore and get lost in. At a quick glance, they delivered on the basics of what they promised, but unfortunately Biomutant never really delivers a resemblance of the experience they tried to create. Biomutant, much like its protagonist, is a game that doesn’t really fit anywhere on the spectrum of current games. It’s one part Fable, one part Fallout, and a whole lot of parts of half-baked ideas borrowed heavily from its predecessors that never seems to find the niche it’s trying to carve out.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Biomutant is a bad game – far from it actually, as it’s pretty enjoyable almost in spite of itself. In Biomutant, you play the role of a mutant marsupial thing in a left over-world where the apocalypse wiped out most of society and nature has mostly reclaimed the planet, leaving only the cockroaches of the world who were able to adapt and survive. You play a character that’s given the ultimate choice: you either save the tree of life and allow nature to heal, or you destroy the tree and finish the job that the apocalypse wasn’t quite strong enough for. If that sounds convoluted and ridiculous, that’s because it is. The story is definitely one of the weaker aspects of the Biomutant experience and it’s only further soured by a weird British narrator who at times tries to sound deeply philosophical, while at other times sounding like he’s reading dialogue from a pre-Kindergarten TV show.
The purpose of the game is to unite all of the tribes that inhabit this world and help them ultimately either decide to save or destroy the tree of life. On your first playthrough, you ally with either the Jagni or the Myriad tribes. The Jagni are Dark aligned and want to destroy the world and the other tribes, while the Myriad are maximum Light aligned and want to save the tree and unite the tribes in the newly saved world. Ultimately, your choice doesn’t really matter because you find an Ark which is a ship that allows you to get the hell out of there once you decide the fate of this world, and you can take up to four of the people you meet during your journey with you. In order to decide the fate of the world tree, you need to defeat the four Worldeaters that are not only defiling the tree in its different sectors, but also plaguing the tribes that live in those areas as well. I opted for a fully evil playthrough, allying with the Jagni and making them the superior tribe – though there’s a tribe called Lotus who are maximum dark aligned and I would have preferred to betray the Jagni when I met the Lotus clan, but unfortunately, that’s not an option. In New Game+, you can go choose any of the tribes you want instead of being forced into one of the two starters, provided you remember how to get to them once you advance the story far enough to unlock the jet ski.
From a gameplay standpoint, Biomutant is somewhere between a button masher and a decently competent third-person shooter depending on how you want to build your character. When you create your character, you can choose your fur type and how your character looks – my character looks more like a punk rock version of Quill from Moss than he does the mash-up of Snake Plisskin and Rocket Raccoon you see in the opening cinematic. Once you finalize your looks, you choose a subclass – which ultimately doesn’t seem to matter since you can play however you want, and you can acquire all of the tribe weapons from defeating the tribe leaders, but they’re mostly useless. In fact, there’s one sword in the game that is so much stronger than every other weapon you’ll find that once you find it, you’ll stop using anything else because it’s so much better than anything else you can make or find – and you can re-craft that weapon to make it even more overpowered. By the end of my Biomutant playthrough, I had around 94% critical hit chance and could blow through just about anything I encountered with very little effort either in melee or with my ranged weapons, but I appreciate what they attempted to do here. Abilities, Super Wung-Fu, and spells ultimately were mostly useless due to how high my critical hit chance was. In fact, I’d argue that the mushroom ability is the only thing you actually need (since it helps you explore/reach things) and you’re better off using all of your bio points to max out your resistances so you don’t have to put on the environmental hazard suits.
Biomutant is a fun little game and would no doubt make a great introduction to the ideas of open-world exploration for newer/younger gamers. The writing is juvenile enough to not offend anyone, and there are some cutesy little jokes – such as calling the “old world gadgets” by names that kids would likely make up, such as Twing-Twang (Guitar) or Bleep-Bleep Cupboard (Arcade Game). There’s also a character named Moog who wants you to collect the poop from fallen beasts, in a clear reference to Monster Hunter, which fills the poop/fart jokes that also fill out the rest of the juvenile humor checkboxes. There are a bunch of other easter eggs, including a fortress with a character who’s a nod to Rufio from Hook, for adults to grin and nod at while watching their kiddos explore Biomutant’s world but for most experienced gamers there probably won’t be enough here to keep them interested. I’m just waiting for the patch to fix the trophy for finding all of the old-world gadgets so that I can complete the Platinum, and then I’ll likely never touch Biomutant again.
That’s kind of the recurring theme of Biomutant as a whole, actually, and it’s kind of sad. They had ambitious ideas, but they weren’t executed properly, and what they did try to implement never quite makes it past the introduction phase. The game simply tries too hard to be a collection of the things it drew inspiration from instead of being its own unique experience. In the opening cinematic, the character touches the water and his hand mutates to look like a poison dart frog skin. This could have led to some interesting ideas – such as gaining magic abilities from absorbing a limb from a fire creature or something, but it wasn’t used. What could have been a fascinating game full of inventive ideas ultimately wound up devolving into just another mundane action game with some open-world stuff and a whole bunch of nods/homages to other games that do everything it does but way better. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Experiment 101’s next title and hope that they actually go with their ideas next time instead of relying on the things people are already familiar with.
Biomutant was played on PlayStation 5, and was provided for review by THQ Nordic.