After numerous delays, Biomutant, which has been developed by the indie studio Experiment 101, was finally released on May 25th. There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of this open-world, post-apocalyptic Kung-Fu fable RPG. However, despite being enjoyable at times, Biomutant is unfortunately plagued by a number of issues.
After completing the game’s campaign and several of the side quests (there are still 50+ left in my list, and probably more to find), which took me around 25 hours, here are my thoughts.
The game takes place after the fall of “human civilization”. The story revolves around saving the World Tree which is being consumed by 4 world eaters. Thus, you need to follow a few main story threads to prepare and then defeat each of these 4 bosses along with the enemy that killed your parents.
In addition to this you will have to side with one of the several tribes, and then defeat the others (by taking down a few outposts and then a fortress).
The story itself is not particularly original or entertaining, but it provides enough to drive you through the campaign.
The problem with the story & quests, in general, is that the writing itself is not great, and often feels like it’s been written for children. This issue is made worse by the way the story is presented via a narrator.
Every creature in the game speaks gibberish (think of the Sims), after which the narrator will begin relaying to you what has been said (and by that you’ve likely already read the subtitles). This happens with every dialogue in the game (which are all unnecessarily long and add nothing to your connections to the story or characters giving them). None of the NPCs you meet will come across as unique or have any personalities since they are all voiced by the same narrator.
He also constantly comments on various things in the game world. You will hear him talking when finding good loot, after battles, or when discovering certain areas. It’s unrelenting. I enjoyed the narrator in Bastion, but in this game it just doesn’t work for me.
I actually ended up disabling the narrator entirely, quite early in the game, for almost all of my playthrough and ended up enjoying it far more than before.
The game was patched a few days ago “fixing” some of the pacing issues with the narrator and added more options relating to it. While this improved it a little, it did not fix the core issue with the way the story is presented.
I should also note that players can make some moral choices throughout the game that will lead to different endings and give you either light or dark points. So for those who are interested, it may warrant a second playthrough to see how things play out differently.
Visuals & Sound
Visually the game looks great. Biomutant has vibrant colors, cute furry animals, and a mostly interesting world to explore. The art team did a good job here. The orientally themed soundtrack also works fine and I didn’t find it too repetitive despite hearing each track numerous times.
Unfortunately as good as the world can look at times, it’s very empty. Outside of a few encounters (that don’t respawn), there’ll be long stretches of “nothingness” while traveling around. Thankfully though, there are several fast travel locations around the map that can be unlocked.
There are a few different areas in which you’ll need appropriate resistances to explore (otherwise you’ll end up dying). Most of the map can be freely explored without worrying about this though, and by the time you get to late/end game, your gear will give you 100% resistance to all of these places, allowing you to freely venture into them. However, at that point you most likely won’t need any more loot or gear since you’ll already be very strong.
I also had some issues with the game’s sound design. The melee combat sounds were incredibly muted making combat feel like it lacked any sense of impact. The good news is that this was patched the day before I finished the game. The update definitely improved the audio in several areas including the combat. So yeah, at least I’m glad to see that the devs are actually listening to the feedback.
The gameplay in Biomutant consists of combat, exploration and puzzles.
The puzzles are mind-numbingly simple, and despite appearing slightly different visually, they all revolve around the same mechanic. Match the yellow with the yellow and the white with the white. In many cases, you rotate one knob and the puzzle is done. So I’m really… puzzled as to why the devs even bothered including them.
The loot system and overall exploration are arguably the strongest points of Biomutant. It was enjoyable to explore the game’s world and the various structures littered about it. There was always loot to be found, even though the majority of it was garbage and useless. I ended up either selling or dismantling it for parts to craft better items. At least though there is a lot of loot.
In and of itself this is not an issue, but the UI hinders this process. There is no way to mass dismantle groups of items, so you’ll have to manually sell or dismantle each item. Navigate to it, select it, then select the option in the dialogue box that appears. Wash, rinse, and repeat for the other 100 items in your inventory. If developers are making a game based around loot, it seems like a serious oversight to not include QoL features for the mass dismantling or bulk sale of items. There are a few other issues with sorting items in some other situations as well.
The UI in general leaves a lot to be desired. Pressing M goes to the map, but if you then press M again, you won’t be able to close it. You’ll need to press ESC which takes you back to the UI overview screen, and then you’ll have to press ESC again to go back to the game. What?
As for the crafting system, well, it appears quite robust at first. You can craft several types of melee and ranged weapons, each with a number of different parts. However, a deeper look at it reveals that it’s actually pretty shallow. There is never any reason to use anything other than the best pieces when crafting a specific weapon. So your build choice really just boils down to what melee and ranged weapons you want to use, or whether you are going to focus on PSI, and then just make the best items for each slot based on that.
Disappointingly enough, there is also no way to change the look of the gear, so you’ll end up with a mish-mash of armor and weapons that don’t look cohesive (and have been chosen purely based on their stats). It’s a pity as it would’ve been nice to be able to customize the visuals of the armor and keep the stats you like.
Another issue with the UI is that while crafting there is NO filter to sort items at all. Therefore, in order to find the best parts, you’ll have to slowly scroll through the list and check items with the highest valve since those will add the most damage. This filter is present only when just looking at your loot normally. Strange.
Your character levels up as you get XP, meaning that you’ll gain skill points (which can also be found throughout the world) that can unlock more perks. This system allows you to upgrade various stats, further specializing your build and adding more attack options. There are also bio and psi points scattered around the world to unlock some new abilities (the Psi abilities you have access to will depend on how many light/dark points you have). There are a fair amount of these abilities to choose from, but you can only have access to 4 of these at any given time. So, despite unlocking a large number of them, you’ll have to pick and choose only 4 of them. These abilities had such a small impact in battles that I rarely used them.
Overall, the combat is enjoyable (especially now that the patched version has proper combat sound effects), with each weapon offering differently animated combos and special attacks. However, and like most aspects of this game, what appears to be quite deep at first turns out to be pretty shallow.
Every single weapon has the same 4 base combos, plus 2 combos and a few attack options that appear when you activate Super Wang-fu.
The game also has dodge and counter mechanics. By countering an attack, you can stun and then air juggle smaller enemies for a ton of damage, or stun and do a good chunk of damage to larger enemies.
While it’s not complicated it is enjoyable, though even on Hard the game is pretty easy. Guns are extremely powerful as well. Thankfully, the latest patch adds an Extreme difficulty mode (which I haven’t tested yet).
When it comes to the bosses, they all play out exactly the same way, much like everything else in this game. Do a bunch of quests to get access to a specific vehicle (with the exception of one boss) and a quest to get something to distract each boss. Then engage the named boss, shoot at the stuff on their legs, dodge the attacks, use distractions, rinse and repeat until it’s dead.
The vehicles are only used in certain areas, with the exception of the jetski which can be used on any type of water. The submarine was cool but is only ever used once, which was a little disappointing.
I mentioned defeating the other tribes as one of the main story objectives earlier as well. All of these outposts/fortress battles play out identically. So needless to say, it gets repetitive. Thankfully after you’ve done a few of them, you get the option to unite all the tribes if you choose, so you won’t have to repeat this process ad nauseam.
When it comes to the side quests, they are almost all basically fetch quests with boring dialogues. So I did not find myself engaged enough to do all of them.
Issues & Bugs
Now for some good news. During my time with Biomutant, I did not come across any game-breaking bugs or crashes which was a pleasant surprise. However, even though the performance was good for the most part, I did come across several areas where the frame rate dropped pretty hard (hopefully these get fixed).
There were also occasional issues with the camera and the “auto-targeting” system. Biomutant tries to be like the Batman Arkham series where the targeting system automatically locks to the enemy you are facing. However, it is not as reliable or fluid as the one in the Batman Arkham games. Thus, you will occasionally end up dashing toward or attacking enemies you don’t want to.
Biomutant is a mediocre game that has great ambitions but is hamstrung by a number of poor design decisions, shallow gameplay, poor writing, and a narrator that you’ll probably want disable immediately. It certainly has its moments, and I did have some it. However, and in order to truly enjoy it, you’ll have to be able to look past all of these flaws.
The biggest gripe I have is the asking price. I have no idea what THQ Nordic was thinking when pricing this at $60. Seriously? If this was priced at a more reasonable $30, I may have even cautiously recommended it for a certain few people, but for $60, that is a resounding no from me. If however, you are dead set on playing it, at least wait for a sale before picking it up.
- Beautiful world
- Crafting & Loot
- Combat can be enjoyable
- Annoying Narration
- NPCs lack any kind of personality
- Writing is bad
- UI is cumbersome
Computer Specs: Windows 10 64-bit computer using an Intel i7-6700k CPU@4.5gh, 32GB Ram, and an nVidia RTX 2070 Super graphics card.