Biomutant is a beauty to behold with environments begging to be explored, and the combat is fluid, agile and a heck of a lot of fun.
Biomutant is an open-world, post-apocalyptic Wung-Fu RPG by Swedish developers Experiment 101 and published by THQ Nordic. It releases on May 25, 2021 on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game features a unique martial art styled combat system allowing you to mix melee, shooting and mutant ability action. This gives combat a real fluid and agile feel as you play a mutant ninja with various weapons that are slapped together with anything you can find. Before I get to the fantastic combat though, I need to tell you about the characters and the world you’re playing in, as it was amazing each new landscape I discovered and there were many photo mode opportunities throughout.
A plague is ruining the land and the Tree-of-Life is bleeding death from its roots. The Tribes stand divided, in need of someone strong enough to unite them or bring them all down. You are given a choice as to who to align with which takes you down the light or dark aura paths, ultimately deciding the fate of the new world.
Biomutant features a lush, beautiful open world, begging to be explored. This can feel initially empty as you traverse the outdoor wilderness areas on foot, but these can be traversed faster once you tame your first area-unique mount and unlock gadgets like the googlide jetski. It is then that you start stumbling on new villages to visit, vendors and npcs to meet and side quests galore. The day/night cycle caused me to pause throughout the game to take some amazing screenshots of the sun or moon in just the right lighting to capture the environment I was in at the time.
I often found myself stopping to admire the vast plains and vistas, and detailed villages and underground areas as I went into each new zone. In my early hours, I wondered what was lurking out in those lush landscapes, and I was excited to explore further. The environment art is well done, as are the character and npc models, which all work well with the voice acting/narration to fully immerse you in this wonderful game.
Biomutant’s character creation system has heap of options to choose from. I spent a fair amount of time here going through all the various options of breed (starting stats), mutation (further refinement of stats), resistances, fur and finally choosing your class. The aesthetic options are almost endless, so I imagine everyone is going to enjoy creating a unique avatar for their character and stat makeups.
There are five classes to choose from – dead-eye, commando, psi-freak, saboteur, and sentinel, along with a sixth class, mercenary, for anyone that pre-orders the game. It is worth noting that your choice of class determines your starting gear, but you can use any weapon and armour piece you find within the game. Each weapon type has its own set of wushu moves and super wushu techniques, and unique items have their own sets again, so you do not have to worry about being locked in to any one choice of class when creating your character.
As you play Biomutant and explore the world you will level up and earn upgrade points, psi-points, and bio points that you can invest into perks, abilities, and mutations like Mothmouth which will turn an enemy mob against the others, or slam the ground with Storm Hop. Whereas exposure to radioactivity found in bunkers from the old world will affect your mind and unlock psi-mutations like blaze which leaves a trail of fire behind you or blink which blinks you forward and creates a shockwave where you land. There is an insane amount of customisation and free form decision making for the player to really play the way you want to play.
In terms of story choices, you are given moral choices whether to go with the light aura or dark aura. Your aura affects the dialogue choices with npcs and allows you to use certain psi-mutations. I usually play games that feature moral choices as the good guys going down the light path. I cannot bring myself to be the bad guy, killing innocents and laying waste to their homes.
Given the open world nature of Biomutant and the dark undertones of the story trailers, I thought this is my time to give the dark path a try. The first couple of decisions were easy for me to go dark, however as I progressed to each new area, I just could not help but be the good guy. I would see a small creature tied up at a park and I immediately felt I had to beat up the aggressors to free them.
Another time I saw a fight happening outside a market, and once combat had finished, the npcs lined up at the counter, starving, wanting food. Inside the market stall was a big soup bowl, and you can be a good guy and share the food, so I just had to feed them even though I knew this would give me light points.
Then there was this time where my tribe tasked me with burning down a local village. I had just picked up some side quests to do there, so I hurriedly finished those, all the while apologising as I carried out their requests. Once I completed the zone quest and side quests, I grabbed a torch, sobbing on the inside, and reluctantly set fire to the straw piles around the village. I felt horrible as I lit each fire and fought off the villager’s defences. It was as if I was playing Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda, and I feel as though I am the devil and going straight to hell for it. But I was the just being the bad guy for once!
The fast travel system is very handy, but it was strange that you dropped a bright yellow wee on each post before using them. It was funny for the first few times but felt unnecessary to do it for the rest of the game, and this became a kind of a recurring theme for me. When conversing with the many races and types of creatures, they speak in their own gibberish and the narrator translates it for you. This is great for the first few hours, but they speak slowly, as does the narrator, and so this is doubled the conversation time. Thankfully, you can shorten the gibberish and narrator comments in the game’s options.
When you enter a new zone, aside from your primary and side quests, you will be given an optional zone quest to complete with varying objectives. The OCD completionist in me was grinning from ear to ear – this is my jam and I love exploring new areas. Though I did have to force myself to keep moving to complete this review. But this just means I have heaps of reasons to revisit older areas after Biomutant releases. In later zones, you need to be very mindful of the types of resistances you and your equipped items output because without them, your health will be drained too quickly.
There are heaps of nooks, crannies, and rooms to search for loot in each zone, as well as puzzles to solve. I found a fair few rare items, but they were much higher level than my character. The first rare yellow item I found was level 15 which I found when I was level 6, so I lugged that item around for hours until I was high enough level. At that point though, much of the loot I was getting was the same or better. It would be good to receive items that are going to be useful right then or the next level or two. It is mind boggling at the sheer volume of unique items and mods that I found in my time in the game so far, so it’s a huge credit to the developer’s level of detail here.
Items can be broken down into crafting materials, and you also get materials as drops from enemy mobs. I found that I had enough materials to upgrade my primary melee and ranged weapons regularly, but not enough to craft new items from scratch. Though I had good fun modding my current weapons, I had got used to the fighting style and wung-fu move combos of a few reliable weapons. I usually do not change primary weapons in most games unless it is a significant upgrade. You can mix and match various parts to create your own unique Frankenstein-esque 1H or 2H melee weapons as well as ranged weaponry like pistols and rifles.
This brings me to the combat mechanics in Biomutant. Combat was a lot of fun, and even trash mob fights were a decent challenge and a good opportunity to try out new moves. Often, I just mashed two main combos, the 5-strike melee combo and the 2-strike followed by ‘F’ combo. I noticed early that there is no way to lock onto a mob, however with the fluidity of this style of combat, and the ability to parry attacks meant I was constantly swapping between mobs to protect myself. It makes sense to not be able to lock-on to a character as this likely would have hindered things in my opinion.
Mini-boss and worldeater fights were tough, and due to me generally only using the two combos as I previously mentioned, it took me a bit longer to take them down. It was really daunting being this little ninja mutant looking up at these huge hulking beasts. The difficulty spiked when there were snipers aiming at me, as when the screen glowed red, I knew I had to dodge any direction to ensure I was not shot and stunned. When using dodge next to short npcs, you will vault over them, and if you dash near a large boss mob, you will slide under them between their legs. Other than that, it was good fun in every fight, dashing and dodging and parrying and shooting my way through whatever I was faced with. It helped that you have comic-style ‘biff’ and ‘thwack’ effects going off, as well as snide remarks from the narrator – “That got you right in the face!” Thanks, narrator, but I’m too busy as I slam an enemy down with a Tsunami Thrust, shooting the next one as I charge in, parrying a blow and whirling around with the Jewel Seeker.
As you progress through the main storyline of taking control of rival tribal outposts, once you have taken a majority of their land, you’re able to skip going through a fight you know you’ll win by pursuading the tribe leader to concede, and then the outpost and area is yours without having to go through those motions. The pursuade option also comes in handy when talking with random NPC’s who know a secret location where you can find some hidden loot. You can attempt to pursuade them based on your stats, but if you fail to get them to divulge the information, you will lose a stat point. I never had a stat point taken away, but it gave an element of risk vs reward. It was also cool to kill a random encounter mini-boss and receive a key in it’s loot. The key unlocked a hidden cache somewhere in the nearby vicinity, so there was always a good reason to go exploring beyond just where the quests were located. There is always something to do wherever you go. And upon completion of the game, there is a new game + mode that allows you to keep your skills and equipment, but play through the game again with much harder mob and bosses.
Overall, Biomutant is a beauty to behold with environments begging to be explored, and the combat is fluid, agile and a heck of a lot of fun. The mini boss creatures are challenging enough, but the worldeaters are something else entirely. I loved the sheer scale of them compared to yourself, which was also represented in the size of the world we get to explore. The wilderness does feel a little too empty at times, even with mounts and vehicles, and fast travel doesn’t help in this regard. However, when you do get in and explore that cave, abandoned ruin or underground bunker, you’re rewarded with copious amounts of loot and components. Crafting in Biomutant is incredibly detailed and the creations you can make some weird and wacky weaponry. I am looking forward to playing the game again as the light aura and trying out different class/combat combinations.
This review utilised a Steam key provided by Koch Media. Biomutant releases May 25, 2021 on Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis