I had extremely low expectations going into Biomutant. The game is slapped with warning signs all over it. From its troubled lengthy development cycle to the lack of gameplay videos and information regarding its features. Sure, Experiment 101 and THQ have released trailers but there have been no deep dives on this game whatsoever.
From the outside, Biomutant looks like a confusing open-world game where you take on the role of a rat trying to save the world. For the most part, that is true. You are a rat-like creature on a quest to save earth for a second apocalypse. However, while Biomutant clearly needs a lot of polish when it comes to its many gameplay features, the game is somewhat enjoyable. Unfortunately, the enjoyable aspects of this RPG are often overshadowed by dull quests, tedious mechanics and after the latest patch on the PS4, shoddy visuals.
Check out our Biomutant review in video form down below to see the game in action.
Biomutant takes place after the human world has succumbed to an apocalypse caused by a corporation named Toxinal. While there’s no direct plot to follow that unravels the past events, various moments throughout the game shed light on this corporation and how they killed the world by polluting it. Nature could not fight back and humanity fell. However, somehow a few thousand years later all these strange-looking rats now live across the land and have even built villages and formed tribes.
Being an RPG, I got to create my very own rat before setting out on the world. I could choose a specific stat line to fall into. Be it strength, intellect, agility or vitality. Depending on my stats, my rat looked different. A stronger rat looked buffer while an ability-focused, intellect rat was smaller and had a bigger head. However, these starter stats don’t matter much in the grand spectrum of things. This is thanks to Biomuant’s Skyrim-like approach whereas I could equip any weapon type and unlock new skills to learn.
I was then set off on an adventure to either take down the four WorldEaters that are chewing away at the Tree of Life’s roots in order to save the world or help destroy the tree. This is all dependant on the Tribe I chose in the early parts of the game. You see, Biomutant works on a dark and light system. Depending on the choices I made at certain parts of the game, I would earn dark or light aura points. These points don’t play a big role in the overall progression of the game but some skills and dialogue options vary depending on how bad or good I was.
Unfortunately, the system falls flat due to the excessive use of the points in the game. I maxed out my dark aura, unlocked the powerful dark Psy ability and was able to do the same thing by changing my decisions to “light” by halfway through the game. It never feels game-changing by any means. Even story-wise, the decisions don’t do much to change the overall narrative in ways I hoped. While the game made me think it would, the ending was disappointing regardless of the path I chose. This is no Heavy Rain or The Witcher choice system. Sad to say.
As for the story itself, Biomutant starts off great. I was fully invested in these rat creatures, the tribes, how the world ended and all the various unique characters I met along the way. It also helps that the entire game and its dialogue translations are narrated by the incredible David Shaw Parker. I am a big fan and David does a superb job at bringing this world to life by listening to these rats and translating their mumbo jumbo into English.
Even while exploring the world, he would randomly say something inspiring and I could not help but smirk at the voice work. Most of the characters hold up quite well too. There’s a large focus on your character’s past, his mother and inner struggles of good and bad.
Biomutant also has an incredible amount of personality when it comes to its narrative. Enemies have strange names and the game’s overall naming conventions tie into the human world but at the same time add a certain level of cuteness to it too. The oil that destroyed the world is called goop, and some items and quests made me chuckle. One of them tasked me to “Stronken my Krowbar” which of course meant, strengthen my crowbar. It reminded me I was playing a game with animals as main characters.
You will spend a lot of time exploring the world of Biomutant and fighting monsters. Two things that kept me going even when the game kept crashing, got visually downgraded and the RPG mechanics fell flat. Exploration is great. The world is vast and filled with so many fantastic places to see and explore. Different regions also have specific machines I could ride like a giant robot and a jet ski. There are polluted nuclear plants I had to creep through wearing 100% radiation gear to prevent death from building up. Many, many areas filled with loot and puzzles and items and gear galore. Not to forget side quests to complete.
The loot system is fantastic. Everything you find in Biomutant has a specific gear ranking, can be dismantled into parts and weapons and guns are then dismantled into mods that are used to rebuild gear. For example, I found a few ultimate weapons but the blade was the only ultimate part of the item. I could then modify this sword by removing the handle and replacing it with a better one. The weapon was still an ultimate but now with increased damage.
The same goes for ranged weapons. Everything is replaceable, upgradeable and can be tweaked and moved around. The sheer freedom to craft the best gear in Biomutant forced me to explore more to find even more loot. Sure, crafting materials are hard to come by but it creates a sort of balance.
Biomutant also has a range of different weapon types that enhance combat. Ranged weapons are shotguns, pistols, rifles and machines guns. Melee weapons are two-handed, dual-wielded and crush hammers. Now take those types and think about all the hundreds of thousands of different parts you find in the game. These parts are combined together to create different weapons with various stats, reload times, critical chance rates, attack speeds, elemental damage and so much more. It is a remarkable system and it felt truly unique to the game.
But Biomutant shoots itself in the feet when it comes to crafting and gear too. Some weapons are just overpowered and it makes experimenting with gear pointless. I found an ultimate two-handed fire sword quite early in the game and nothing I found after that matched its power. I was unstoppable and never died once. I breezed through combat and every encounter. I just wished the game would scale differently. Make things harder and force me to abandon my gear for new stuff. It did not.
The same goes for armour. I made a few set outfits but not for damage protection but for resistance to elements so I could explore different areas without dying from radiation or freeze. That is how pointless gear is in the game that I could technically use a great set of gear I found in the first ten hours, for the rest of the game. It is a pity.
Where gear does make a difference is in combat. Not from a balance point of view but just from the attack styles. Biomutant’s combat is inspired by kung-fu. or Wung Fu according to the game. There’s a big focus on stylish attacks here. Spinning around, slashing things, gliding through the air while shooting enemies with two pistols. It is pretty stylish and never got old even though I barely changed my gear.
As I got new weapons, I unlocked new Wung-Fu combos to learn and use in combat. The two-handed sword could deal massive damage and finish off with a ground-pound slam. I could also fire my gun then throw my sword in front of me with a fast spin attack like a boomerang. It is cool and feels great to play. Enemies don’t offer much of a challenge nor did they force me to play in a certain way but the Devil May Cry-like combat is fun.
The game makes these tribe weapons a big deal but they are far from it.
I never used these weapons at all. I don’t see why anyone would want to. They are weak, can’t be tweaked and have no progression either. Worst of all, the game makes these tribe weapons a big deal but they are far from it.
I want to say stats play a massive role in how Biomutant plays but that is not the case either. Weapons, gear and skills do have certain stat requirements but I was only locked out of equipping gear due to my level and not my stats. These stats do affect combat and loot drops but often they felt pointless and increasing them never made a massive difference. So much so that after I hit level 20, I just pumped all my level up stats into Luck to improve my loot drop chance while exploring. At the end of the game, I was 190 in luck while everything else was on 60 or 70.
This is probably my biggest gripe with Biomutant in general. While the systems are good at first, everything from the crafting, levelling, abilities and even exploration just feel one-note after a while. In addition, the game never forced me to invest time and thought into any of these mechanics either which in end made the entire experience feel shallow. Loot is pointless after getting a powerful weapon. The tribe weapons are an absolute horror show when it comes to how they are implemented. In addition, skills and abilities just never become a must. I unlocked four in my entire playthrough and kept the same four until the end.
Biomutant also lacks polish. The game is an eyesore at times on PS5. It also suffered from a lot of crashes. The devs have sorted these crashes out but at the cost of lowering the game’s resolution to 1080p upscaled to 4K. In 2021, we are playing 1080p games… It is hard to ignore the severe drop in quality in Biomutant especially after seeing the game in 4K before the drop.
But beyond that, it annoyed me at times. Something as simple as a puzzle that revolved around rotating gears to match white and yellow nobs within 10 moves. However, some puzzles were impossible to complete within 10 moves. Literally, not possible due to how the procedurally generated layout of the puzzle loads. I had to sit there and fail on purpose until the game loaded a layout that could be completed in 10 moves. Just painful.
Biomutant is not a bad game but I could not help but feel it suffers from Cyberpunk 2077 syndrome. Way too ambitious for its own good. Just like Cyberpunk, the game systems are there but are never fully imagined. A good RPG forces you to constantly search for new ways to improve your character. Biomutant never does this. Sure, the world is amazing and fun to explore but the foundations that it is built on can make it a chore to get through.
This Biomutant review was based on a code sent to us by THQ Nordic
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: PS5 | Release Date: 25 May 2021 | Price: R960