I’ve been a little bad at writing reviews for the games I’ve completed. I did write a review for Shadow of the Colossus last week and I though I would continue by talking about Biomutant, a post apocalyptic open world game, today.
I really wanted to love Biomutant. I really did. When it was first announced it seemed to tick all the boxes for an open world adventure game that I would love. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite make the mark.
In Biomutant, you are a small humanoid-ish creature who is trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic Earth, where humans had destroyed the ecosystem, causing creatures to mutate. While the humans are long gone, as long as the ‘Tree of Life’ continues to thrive, all other life on Earth is safe…ish. Unfortunately, four giant creatures, called World Eaters, have decided to go vegetarian and the tree’s roots are their new favourite snack. This is where you come in. You are tasked with tracking down each of these World Eaters and killing them but, in order to do that, you must unite the various tribes to work together to face this threat.
On the surface the plot seems pretty solid. Sure, it is your standard travel-the-world-and-hunt-down-the-threat story but it does the trick. Unfortunately, Biomutant suffers from the usual open world game issue, in which the story does take a backseat to the exploration. In fact, aside from the first couple of hours of the game setting up the story, you don’t get much more added to the story after that. It is essentially the excuse for your character to go and explore the world.
There is a side story which is tied to your past and the fate of your parents. I’ll be honest I wished the developers at Experiment 101 had spent a bit more time on this storyline, as I felt it had the potential to make Biomutant stand out amongst the other open world games. This part of the game also explained what happened to cause the tribes to separate, as well as giving your character an antagonist to oppose. Unfortunately, this whole storyline is introduced at the very beginning and is pretty much forgotten about until the very end; which is a shame, as this could have helped players feel more connected to Biomutant’s world and more invested in saving it.
Speaking of the world of Biomutant, I feel like this is the game’s strongest point. The world is bright and colourful- a complete contrast to other post-apocalyptic games out there. Not only that, but the variety in its environments make it a joy to explore. The game has a range of different environments, ranging from desert to swampland. One of the aspects I really liked was if you went to either a hot or cold area, you had to either have a high enough resistance or wear the right clothes, as you will suffer damage otherwise.There are some assets that are clearly used multiple times but I think for a small development, I think that is OK. The map size is, I feel, the perfect size. It is large enough to justify the term ‘open-world’ but not too large that the world feels empty. At least for myself, the exploration was the best part of the game.
The combat was OK. It wasn’t the best combat I have experienced but it wasn’t the worst. For combat, there are a number of different aspects to it. Firstly, there is the classic melee and ranged combat. For the most part this was OK. You have various combos you can use, which if done successfully gives you the opportunity to use a ‘super’ mode. I didn’t like the lack of control I had on targeting enemies when using ranged weapons. Then there are the mutations. Throughout the game there are bio thingies which you can use to unlock mutations that give you abilities like a bubble which you can stick enemies to. These felt a little gimmicky. Then there are psi powers, which are tied to the karma system. Depending on your karma, you can unlock different powers, like shooting electricity out of your hands. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really use the mutations or psi powers, as the melee was all I really needed. It feels like the developers had several ideas of what they wanted the combat to be- combo focussed, as well as ability focussed and couldn’t decide on which they would go with. This leads to all of the combat systems not being fleshed out. In fact, I had maxed out the skill lines around the same time I reached the half-way point in the game.
The combat could have been much improved if the enemies were a bit more challenging. Basically, if it is a big creature: it will charge you, you will dodge and then hit it. Rinse and repeat. If it is a small creature: it will try and attack you, you will counter the attack and then hit it. Rinse and repeat. There are some variations, such as the small flying enemies but they are few and far between. In fact, the best fights are against the World Eaters, in which you have to use different tactics to take on each one. If there had been a little less repetition with the enemies, this would have gone a long way in making Biomutant a strong open world game.
Finally, we have come to, probably the most divisive part of Biomutant, sound design and voice acting. The developers decided that for the game there would only be three characters that actually speak human: the Narrator, the good karma angel thing and the bad karma devil thing. The two karma entities are brilliant. They remind me of the advisors in the Black & White games. However the Narrator is a little irritating. The voice actor does a brilliant job but the Narrator’s dialogue gets repetitive and dull. At some points, the Narrator was just uttering gibberish that did not reflect what was currently going on in the game. It felt like he had read a whole lot of fortune cookie fortunes and decided to impart his new found knowledge on the player. This wouldn’t be too bad if there were other characters you could speak to. However the developers decided everyone else was going to talk in their own Sim-like language. I completely understand the design choice, after all it does make sense that these creatures would have their own language; but if you are playing this game for thirty plus hours, this nonsensical dialogue can start to grate. In the end, I started to listen to podcasts and music, rather than listen to the game.
Overall, Biomutant was an ambitious game. It is clear that the developers had the best intentions and wanted to create the best open world game possible. However, I feel like their ambition got the better of them which leaves the game lacking a strong strong or combat system. It is not the worst open world game, not by a long shot but it certainly isn’t one of the best. I would definitely be interested in what Experiment 101 creates next but as for Biomutant, I would only recommend it to open world fans or if it was selling at around £30-£35.