With its post-apocalyptic setting, cast of weird and wonderful creatures, and wealth of content, there’s a lot to like about Biomutant.
If you’re a fan of open world adventure games, then Biomutant will likely be right up your street. It’s open-world adventuring at its purest; a core story runs through the game, but a liberal sprinkling of side quests means you can move through it at your own pace. There’s always something to do, whether you’re searching an old, abandoned house for a piece of technology from the “before times”, or hunting for rare loot in an underground cave.
It helps that Biomutant‘s world is one heck of an interesting place to waste time in. It’s bright, bold and colourful when the sun shines, and mysterious and eerie in the darkness of night. Everything seems slightly overly-saturated, but it feels purposeful; it makes everything jump out of the screen that little bit more. Taking control of a weird creature, it feels like you must be on a different planet, but when you start uncovering ruins of our world – the remains of family homes, abandoned shops and broken-down factories – it only piques your interest even more.
You see, Biomutant takes place in a future where the earth has been ruined by humans. Some fled to other planets; presumably many died. The creatures that were left on earth mutated, taking over what little remained. Split into factions, these creatures have been at war with each other since, but a new threat – a plague that’s set to destroy the Tree of Life, the only thing keeping the world alive – means the tribes must come together to save the planet and themselves.
Well, that’s one option, anyway. Throughout its runtime, Biomutant asks the player to make a number of moral choices that determine the lightness or darkness within you. Do you unite the tribes, working together as one to save the Tree of Life? Or do you capture and overturn all the other tribes, and perhaps finish off the Tree of Life once and for all?
Biomutant‘s story is interesting, for sure, but it feels a little underdeveloped. If you run through the main missions, you’ll likely finish the game in 10-12 hours, which doesn’t feel like enough time to fully flesh out the narrative. It would have been nice to get more details about what exactly happened to the world. There are some details to be found as you play, but you have to hunt for them.
It doesn’t really matter though, because as you play through Biomutant, travelling through its vast and varied world, you’ll make your own story. The most fun to be had with this game is by going off the beaten path, discovering abandoned buildings, exploring and searching for loot. And gathering loot is something you’ll strive to do thanks to the game’s interesting crafting system.
You can kit your character out in a full set of armour, and equip them with a range of melee weapons and guns. You might find whole pieces of equipment, but the most fun is to be found in crafting them. Existing weapons and equipment can be modded with various trinkets you find, or you can create entirely new weapons from scratch. It means there’s essentially an unlimited number of items to be equipped, and the level of customisation available feels wonderful. It’s easy to waste upwards of 30 minutes at a time simply tinkering in your inventory.
This freedom to equip your character however you see fit makes the game’s combat even more fun, too. Combat is a big part of Biomutant; you’re never far away from a creature itching for a fight. And with plenty of tools at your disposal, combat feels fun and fresh. You can lay into enemies with a melee attack, or attack them from afar with ranged weapons. Maybe you’ll go for a combination of both; there are plenty of fancy combo moves. As you level up, you’ll gain upgrade points that can be spent in unlocking new combos, though plenty are available from the outset. You can’t lock on to an enemy, but you’ll automatically target whichever you’re facing, so even though it can feel a bit messy you’ll almost always be dealing out damage.
I’ve been playing Biomutant on PS5 via backwards compatibility, and for the most part it’s performed admirably. Despite upscaling to 4K from 1080p it still looks great; textures are sharp and detailed. I’ve had a few slight framerate hiccups, but nothing too egregious or game-breaking. There are still patches to come, too, so no doubt performance will keep improving.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Biomutant are its potato-printed locations. The insides of houses, underground caves and tribe strongholds are often reused. It’s somewhat immersion-breaking when you enter one location to find it looks exactly the same as the last place you entered, despite being somewhere new. When the world is as interesting to explore as this, it would have been nice to have a bit more detail; for locations to feel more unique.
Small problems aside, I’ve had a great time exploring the post-apocalyptic ruins of Biomutant. It’s a world that begs to be explored, and with so much loot to be found, it’s always worth going off the beaten path. An interesting story is backed up by wonderfully fluid, engaging combat, and it’s made even better thanks to deep equipment customisation options. It might not be the most polished open world adventure out there, but it’s entertaining from beginning to end. What more could you ask for, really?
Biomutant Review: GameSpew’s Score