Much like its gene-spliced protagonist, Biomutant is a mishmash of ideas stitched together to form what is ultimately a mixed bag. The game combines open world design elements with elegant action, guns, crafting, a character system, and more. Like many jacks-of-all-trades, he ends up being a master of nothing, and a thick layer of technical jank on top of half-baked ideas makes Biomutant feel like a case of feature creep that needed to be. be reduced.
At its core, Biomutant is a typical open-world game with a large map littered with base objectives, points of interest, and various environmental biomes with weird wildlife roaming between the two. Despite its post-apocalyptic premise, the vibrant overworld is filled with color, and I love how this beauty is juxtaposed against the ruins of modern civilization. A majestic tree of life sits at the center of the world and its four gigantic roots meander for miles above it for a marvelous sight. The anthropomorphic character and the monster designs are a charming mix of weird, funny and, at times, unsettling.
I especially enjoyed Biomutant when I simply explored, stumbled upon hidden bunkers or abandoned villages and rid them of their precious loot. Traveling gets even better with a variety of transportation options, from riding on various mounts to walking in a mechanical suit to soaring on a glider. Summoning a mech from the sky is stimulating until you realize that some vehicles can only be used in loosely designated areas. Not being able to summon my boat in one body of clear water but not in another puts a damper on the feeling of freedom in the game.
The combat combines a sleek melee with wacky shooter but doesn’t have the polish it needs, often feeling messy and imprecise. The parry is particularly unsatisfactory, and the loose locking system makes staying on target a finnicky pain. I enjoyed the variety of special powers at my disposal, like creating trails of fire or warding off ice storms. These abilities add a flashy wrinkle to the action, but they also don’t pack as much oomph as I wanted in combat, even after investing stat points in them.
Biomutant’s combat became more tolerable once I acquired more powerful weapons through a robust and rewarding crafting system. After collecting random trash like old sniper glasses, trumpet horns, or even bananas, you can slap devastating killing machines. I had a great time maximizing this system, and seeing my creations rip through monsters was always rewarding. The same wacky satisfaction applies to armor and gear; my character rocked a mascot helmet and a polo shirt that looked silly, but the outfit was increased to be as strong as armor. The drive to craft cooler weapons is powerful and the search for new parts has always been worth it, even when I found less loot than I already had. This is because you can still sell it or better yet break it down into valuable ingredients to craft better parts.
Biomutant has an impressive number of side activities which are mediocre best at best, but too many of them boil down to performing simple actions a number of times in different places. The tasks themselves aren’t bad, they’re just the definition of busy work, and the rewards aren’t worth the effort half the time. However, you don’t have to worry about the lack of content in Biomutant; my quest journal was overflowing with things to keep me occupied for dozens of hours, even though these activities were largely superficial.
While the elements around the edges can allow for a certain degree of entertainment, it all feels hollow when channeled into a disappointing narrative core. As you bring your furry hero to life, you are grappling with several important tasks. Four destructive World Eaters are killing the Tree of Life, and it’s up to you to stop them. You must also end a tribal war by joining one faction and then uniting or eradicating the rest. On top of that, the bully who murdered your family in childhood has resurfaced and needs to be dealt with. Did I mention that there is also a life-saving ark that has a limited number of seats in it and you need to figure out which of your allies will get a free ride if the world were to go awry?
Biomutant juggles a lot of threads but none of them are engaging. Avenging your parents’ deaths doesn’t have an emotional punch as the killer is barely a factor in the story, and the final showdown unfolds in a predictable and anticlimactic fashion. Solving the tribal war simply involves conquering the other colonies in bland clashes and deciding whether to kill or spare the chiefs. World Eater missions have the most meat on their bones by far, with various tasks, such as obtaining vehicles, aimed at preparing you for big battles. However, taking on these beasts consists of poorly designed boss fights that rob these titanic battles of any sense of awe. The Ark subplot seems totally pointless and doesn’t even make sense if you manage to save everything anyway. The lackluster storytelling further diminishes an already superficial system of morality, which oscillates between basic black and white choices.
Throughout your journey, a pleasant British narrator recites the whole adventure. He does a decent job, but his creepy interjections outside of the cutscenes wore me out after a while. The narrator also speaks for each character, which robs them of any individuality, and conversations become tedious as you have to wait for the narrator to translate the gibberish of the native creatures. The only other voices you hear are your two bickering fairies, who represent your light and dark side, and they’ve become my favorite personalities by default for having, well, personality. I love that they’re both idiots who constantly put each other down while enticing you to join their camp.
Dull presentation and technical issues further spoil the experience. Cutscenes are crass thanks to elevated animations and flat overall delivery. A sometimes wobbly camera can zoom inside objects during conversations. The cutscenes sometimes end abruptly, even cutting off the ongoing dialogue. Playing on PC provides a smoother output, but various bugs and severe crashes hampered my console adventure.
Biomutant constantly shows glimmers of promise, but it takes patience and a pair of rose-colored glasses to see them. I really hated my first few hours with the game, but once I crafted cooler weapons that made combat more tolerable or admired another postcard-worthy sight, I felt more disappointed than anything. Biomutant has all the ingredients for a unique and entertaining adventure. He spends too much time going out of his way to try to impress his audience instead of polishing his handful of highlights.
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