The wait is finally over. Biomutant is here. In all its glory, and pitfalls.
I was introduced to the game at PAX West many years ago. It quickly became one of my most anticipated games coming to market, and I was keeping tabs on the progress. I am pumped for this game. The really bad thing here is it just doesn’t live up to the hype.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. In what seems par for the course these days, Biomutant’s release is not without its issues. Thankfully, there is no online multiplayer to cause even more problems. I am going to keep this fairly short and to the point as we will be doing weekly video releases as we play through more of the game. You should know, this game was provided to us for free for the purposes of this review.
The art direction in the game is amazing. With few issues, this is just a beautiful game to look at whether you are scrounging through a long-abandoned city or out bunny hopping through the countryside, the scenery is magnificent. It adds to the narrative of the game in ways you don’t necessarily see at first. Speaking of the narrative, the story is actually good, if not basic, although told in a very tedious way (more on that later).
The combat and movement system is solid and smooth and works best with a controller for PC players out there. Once you get the hang of the targeting system for ranged weapons it is pretty easy to master and flows between fighting styles with ease. One of my favorite features is a prompt in the bottom of the screen that appears when you are close to finishing a combo. It will tell you what to push next to finish that particular Wung-Fu combo.
It is also nice to see more than one class in the system, including some previously unseen. They each have perks that work with their particular strengths and play styles. There also different races you can play as, but I haven’t had the chance to explore them to see if they have any effect on your stats.
Where to begin. I kid, but the game is not without its issues. Some of them tie directly into our Pros we spoke about above. Like the narrative. I appreciate the story the game is trying to tell. It’s not exactly a new one, but it’s done a cool way as you play through. The problem comes with how the developers, Experiment 101, chose to deliver the story. As you play through and encounter NPCs in the game, you will hold conversations with them. Here is how that conversation goes, nearly every single time:
NPC: Says something to you in what could be either gibberish or an actual made-up language for the game (my money is on the former).
Narrator: *once the NPC is done talking* Delivers the contents of the dialogue from the NPC to you in English (or another chosen language) so you can understand.
NPC: Says something further.
Narrator: Gives you the translation after the NPC has finished talking.
Rinse & Repeat
Once you get into the meat of the game, you don’t experience this as much, but right away in the first hour of the game (at least), it really dragged down the pacing. You have the option to skip through lines of dialogue, but isn’t that taking away from the game experience at that point. I personally want to experience as it was meant to be, but that’s a personal thing I am sure. If that is the route that you decide to go, then there are subtitles to read to help you through.
While it’s great that we have a few classes to start with, the perks are the only real thing different between the classes, stuff like increased dodge ability. Ranged weapons change, and so do melee, but they are all still utilizing the same basic move sets. Even the Saboteur with his dual-wielding is basically performing the same strikes as the Dead-Eye or Commando. The only class that is truly a different experience is the Psi-Freak with his Psionic powers and unarmed melee. The most straightforward, and the one I have had the most fun playing, is the Saboteur.
The character creation could use some tweaking as well. Most of the attributes are decided by moving a dot around a circle and watching the character morph as you do so. They provide you with a code in the bottom left when choosing your skills, but I have yet to see how you can enter the code without having to try and find it navigating the dot in the circle again until you come across the same code. You use the same dot-in-circle method when choosing the patterns and your fur, but there is nor morphing with this one. There are distinct areas of the circle that immediately change the character's appearance when you cross into it. There is no indicator of where these areas start or begin, you just have to wing it.
I know I said that the story is good. Basic, but good. My biggest issue, aside from the tedious delivery, is the game does tend to get a little preachy about time. The gist of the events that happened prior to the game’s beginning is this: a large corporation did bad and polluted the world causing the inhabitants (presumably humans) to leave. Don’t litter. Don’t pollute. It’s a good message, but it tends to get thrown at you over and over and over… definitely repetitive.
Unfortunately, even with a mostly decent combat system, the game does get very repetitive. I do like that you can interact with some environmental objects, especially like the fact that the enemy NPCs can too, but ultimately every encounter becomes the same monotonous flow of combo pressing, especially as you find those that you like. It would have been nice to see some creative ways to change it up, at least every now and then.
In the weeks leading up to the release, I had a ‘press review’ of the game. I wanted to get a video together of the game to show, but it seemed every video had some sort of glitch in it. I was told they were patching at the time, so I didn’t want to deliver a video that wasn’t representative of the final product that you will get to play. But come launch day, and those save files still have some of the same issues I was seeing before. Largely to do with disappearing armor and weapon pieces. In our weekly series, I have started a new character so we should see if this is a symptom of the save-file or the underlying code.
Speaking of weapons and armors, let’s talk crafting. This should probably be in a “meh” section. It’s great, but it’s not really that bad either. The one thing that is just weird to me is the use of armor modifiers in the game. If you add a modifier to the chest piece early on in the game, it could just look like you have a rusty bolt glued to the front of your chest. It was a very odd way to represent these add-ons. But the one plus side is that the add-ons seem to be universal, meaning you can fit the same pieces on your arms as you do on your chest or back.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you really shouldn’t let people dictate what you buy and don’t buy. I am simply here as a guide to let you know my experience with the game. And even though my cons section is definitely longer in length than my pros section, I still absolutely love playing this game. It could be that I have waited so long for this and it's finally here, it could be that the things I mentioned are more quality of life issues that I am just complaining about. But the thing is, I have fun playing the game. Jumping around and throwing spark balls at enemies is fun, and as you get into the game more and unlock more skills, it’s just fun. It could use work in some areas, but I can see these being addressed in patches as we move forward. This is Experiment 101’s first game, and they had lofty goals. They fell short on a few, or a lot depending on your perspective and expectations, but I still see it as a very decent outing that shows us what this studio is capable of.
I would buy it. I was going to buy it if we hadn’t been given a copy to review. There are so many things to do in the game aside from the main storyline that you could get lost for hours and not really have made any progress in the main story arch. I like games like this where they give you plenty to do, even if a little repetitive, outside the main story.
While my score below is an objective view of the game, it doesn’t change the fact that the game is fun to play, it just depends on what you’re looking for out of it.
3.5 out of 5