In this Biomutant Review we’ll be taking a look at the new open world Action RPG developed by Experiment 101 and published by THQ Nordic. This is a game we’ve been following for a number of years, first seeing it back at Gamescom in 2019, and we’ve been excited nearly all of that time. So what do we think of Biomutant? Read on to find out.
Biomutant Review: Almost Amazing
Developed by: Experiment 101
Published by: THQ Nordic
Release date: May 25th, 2021
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Price at time of review: 59.99 USD
Story and Setting
Humanity has left planet Earth in shambles after the infamous Toxanol corporation triggered an apocalypse of toxic waste that wiped out all Humans, except for the few that escaped via space ships. The story of Biomutant follows a young mutant on a quest to save or destroy the Tree of Life that is under siege by World Eaters, mutants who emerged from this waste.
Biomutant is a muddled “feel good” epic, that is a warning about the dangers of pollution and its potentially catastrophic effects on the planet. And, while you are the “hero” of the story, you also feel like a child (and I don’t mean in a good way), as things are explained to you that you’ve likely known for the past 20 years or more.
Children and teens will absolutely enjoy the storytelling, particularly because the narrator is quite good, but as an adult the story is the weakest aspect of the game. I simply did not enjoy the narrative, the plot, or most of the characters, though I really wanted to.
The setting, however, is another matter entirely. Many of the places you visit in Biomutant look polluted and destroyed, as you might imagine based on the story, but there is a healthy mix of environments. Nature has found a way to survive on planet Earth, and many locales look beautiful and untouched, though in general Biomutant looks like a more child friendly version of Fallout.
And though, this might sound like a “bad” description, the setting was actually one of the better parts of Biomutant, and found it wonderful to explore. Experiment 101 absolutely nailed this part of the game, and running around just looking at everything while looting different areas is some of the most fun I’ve had this year.
Gameplay & Combat
The gameplay of Biomutant plays a lot like a combination of the more recent Fallout and Assassin’s Creed games. That is to say, there is an overarching plot that pulls you through as you pick up various quests and side quests and explore an open world landscape littered with loot and enemies. I’ll dissect this into parts, so you can get a better understanding of each aspect of gameplay as well as how it was handled, beginning with Questing first.
Questing in Biomutant
The main quests in Biomutant generally follow the same pattern of finding parts for a machine or tool that you will need to face one of the 4 World Eaters, aside from a few that setup the backstory of your character. The side quests on the other hand are mostly exploration-based, meaning “find 5 globes”, or “open 10 doors”.
There are very few choices to be made in Biomutant during these quests, or dialogue that matters beyond explaining to you why you must do certain things, making the game feel much less like an RPG and more like a sandbox adventure game.
Most dialogue responses are 3 or fewer word questions, that never really amount to anything, and I often found myself looking for the option that would end dialogue the fastest because of this. I used Charisma a grand total of 4 times in my twenty some odd hour playthrough, and 3 of those times were to convince a random NPC about a secret location they could mark on my map. If you were hoping Biomutant would have interesting quests with decisions that matter, then you are likely to be disappointed.
Exploration in Biomutant
A big part of Biomutant is exploring the landscape, searching for loot, and fighting enemies. This is hands down the best aspect of the game, and you frequently get lost just rummaging around in some broken down building, or riding through a field on your mount.
What really made this so much fun, in my opinion, was the way small objective lists are weaved into each area. This allows you to look around and find each thing one by one, and leave knowing you’ve cleared a space and you need not come back. This really appeals to the completionist in me, as I’m sure it will to others. My one complaint here is that there is a fair amount of copy/paste, particularly in larger chunks (like entire buildings), that break your immersion from time to time.
Beyond that, finding loot almost always feels rewarding, because you are almost always getting something you can use. The crafting system in Biomutant is fantastic, and does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to the fun factor of the game.
Crafting in Biomutant
The crafting system in Biomutant, allows you to find parts and put them together to create unique and interesting Weapons and Armor. There is also a rarity system, not unlike many other RPGs, that sort of gives you a rough idea how good or bad an item is without having to look too much further into its stats. Additionally, Loot Chance increases the likelihood of you finding higher rarity parts, making things a bit more exciting.
You can find these parts all through out the game, either by looting them, buying them, defeating enemies, or completing quests. Many of these are randomly placed, and because of this you will spend a fair amount of time crafting, probably more so than in just about any game I’ve played that wasn’t an MMO.
Thankfully it’s really fun, and it isn’t until you’re nearly done with the game that it starts to fall off a bit. However, as much as I enjoyed this aspect, I would have liked it even more if combat was more complex and challenging, because this would have motivated me to really push the limits of the crafting system.
Combat in Biomutant
The combat of Biomutant allows you to swap between ranged and melee combat on the fly, since you have both of these weapon types equipped at once. Combat is very fast and mobility plays a large role here, and the controls are for the most part very good and responsive. The issue is that it gets repetitive really fast, and there is almost no skill involved whatsoever.
Biomutant is chocked full of Perks, Biogenetics and Psi-Powers that you will almost never need, because you can wipe out entire packs of enemies in seconds just by firing your gun in their direction, even on the hardest difficulty of the game. Some players will definitely enjoy using the flashy Wung-Fu moves for the impressive visuals, but because of the amount of enemies you have to fight in the game, most will likely take the path of least resistance…and that is simply holding down the fire button.
To add insult to injury, even though the game features decent enemy variety, you’ll quickly realize most enemies even though they look different still have the same attack patterns. This makes combat even less interesting, and reinforces the idea that you should just end it as quickly as possible so you can move on to the better parts of the game, like exploration and crafting.
All in all, combat is passable, but not fantastic mostly due to a lack of balancing. To give you some idea just how easy the game was on “Hard”, I was able to beat every single Boss in Biomutant on the first try, and sometimes I even defeated them without seeing all of their phases because they died so quickly. Between how easy the game is, and how the story is told, it makes one wonder who the target audience of this game really is? Is it kids? Or is it adults?
Audio, Visual & Design
Looking at the art style of Biomutant, I really enjoyed this facet and I think it’s one of the things that really helps it stand out. Biomutant has sort of a child-like nature that appeals to many of us who still feel young at heart, particularly those of us who love animals. I honestly believe it’s one of the biggest factors in creating hype for this game, and I totally get why.
Graphically Biomutant is damn near triple A quality in some places, which is impressive coming from a studio of just over 20 people. The grass blows in the wind as you run along, the water looks fantastic, and there is a night and day effect as well as sun and rain. There are some locations that look markedly worse, however, so this is not consistent through out the whole breadth of the game. But generally speaking, it’s as good or better than I had hoped for in most cases.
Audio-wise, you’ll either love or hate the narrator of the game, who “translates” nearly every dialogue. It’s an interesting choice to be sure, having one person essentially voice all characters, but I honestly didn’t mind it. That said if you hate it, you essentially hate every dialogue in the whole game, which is a lot!
The musical score and sound effects are very nice, and I really had no complaints here. They are not over the top mind blowingly good, but they get the job done, and fit the theme of the game nicely. It’s hard to ask for much more.
Performance-wise I was getting about 80-90 FPS at max settings at 1440p resolution on my Corsair One Pro on PC which has a 2080ti, with some frame drops happening here and there. This seemed to occur when I was walking into a newish area, almost like the game was loading it up, but there were other random drops as well. I do worry about how this will handle on mid-range systems, and if they’ll be able to get 60 FPS or not, even at 1080p.
Load times were about 30-45 seconds on my SSD, which isn’t unusual for these types of games, since once you’re loaded in there are almost 0 load screens the whole way. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was nearly 2 minutes if I remember correctly, so this is actually not that bad.
I experienced many bugs during my play through, though none were game breaking. However, they were so numerous and varied that I am sure others will experience different ones than me, and it always left me questioning when I couldn’t figure something out whether or not I was doing something wrong or the game was just bugged again, and that is not a good place to be.
Pricepoint & Replayability
In this section we’ll take a look at what you get for your 59.99 USD, which is the current asking price of Biomutant, and whether it’s worth that or not. Let’s begin by talking about replayability.
It’ll take you anywhere from 10 to 50 hours to finish Biomutant, depending on whether or not you explore everything, so your mileage is going to vary a bit. During my play through I started out trying to do all the side quests, but much like other games of this type, eventually I stopped and just rushed the main story. I ended up with a play through that took around 25 hours, if you include the couple of restarts so I could try different Classes.
You can play New Game Plus once you complete the story, starting over at the beginning (minus the tutorial section), but keeping all your gear. All quests have been reset, and you can ally with any of the 6 Tribes in the game. This does give you some reason to keep playing, especially if you want to see the other ending.
The main issue here is that I didn’t feel compelled to keep going or explore everything, because most quests and activities feel more or less the same, and I was absolutely owning everything combat-wise, so there was no need to “grind up some levels or gear”. In short, there’s lots to do in Biomutant, I’m just unsure if you’ll actually want to do it all.
Biomutant is a game that at first glance, seems like a game of the year contender. It has a unique art style, a beautiful world, tons of character customization, and flashy combat which handles very smoothly. However, things like excessive use of copy/paste, almost no decisions that matter, lots of bugs, and Abilities and Perks that are meaningless in the face of zero challenge combat really hold Biomutant back from being what many hoped it would be.
Experiment 101 is punching above it’s weight for a game developed by a small studio of just over 20 people, but unfortunately is asking the same price (59.99 USD) as nearly every other game in the industry, triple A titles included. By doing this, it has opened itself up to direct comparisons to these games, games that are far better in many respects.
For all the failures Biomutant has though, it has equally as many successes, and I absolutely loved that it did something new and creative. Experiment 101 is definitely on to something, and I’d love to see what they can come up with given a larger team and budget, because there is a lot of potential in Biomutant, even if a lot of it never shined the way it was meant to.
Biomutant is an original and creative new IP with great ideas made with love, but on a budget. Charming as it might be, lackluster rpg options, repetitive combat and by-the-numbers gameplay pair up with small but tedious bugs that detract from the overall experience. A game that will shine for kids or teens, unfortunately falls short of its price tag for adults, who may want to wait for a sale.