Similar to its gene-spliced protagonist, Biomutant is a collection of ideas that are finally put together into a mixed bag. The game combines elements of open world design with stylish action, gunfight, crafting, a moral system, and much more. As with many all-rounders, it becomes a master of nothing, and a thick layer of technical jerk on half-hearted ideas makes Biomutant feel like a case of feature creep that needed to be rolled back.
At its core, Biomutant is a typical open world game with a large map full of basic objectives, points of interest, and various environmental biomes with bizarre wildlife roaming around in between. Despite its post-apocalyptic premise, the vibrant overworld is full of color, and I love how that beauty is contrasted with the ruins of modern civilization. A majestic Tree of Life sits at the center of the world and its four gigantic roots snake for miles above them to be a wondrous sight. The anthropomorphic character and monster designs are a charming mix of weird, funny and sometimes unsettling.
I enjoyed Biomutant the most while simply exploring, stumbling across hidden bunkers or abandoned villages and freeing them of their precious loot. Traveling gets even better thanks to a variety of transportation options, from various mounts to trudging around in a mech suit to soaring. Summoning a ‘Mech from the sky feels powerful until you realize that some vehicles can only be used in vaguely designated zones. If I am unable to summon my boat in one clear body of water, but not another, the game’s sense of freedom will be dampened.
Combat mixes stylish hand-to-hand combat with insane gunplay, but it lacks the polish it needs and it often feels messy and inaccurate. Parrying feels particularly unsatisfactory, and the loose lock-on system makes staying on target a Finnish pain. I appreciated the variety of special powers available to me, such as creating trails of fire or conjuring up ice storms. These skills add a noticeable crease to the action, but they also don’t pack as much punch as I wanted in combat, even after investing statistical points in them.
Biomutant’s battle became more bearable when I acquired more powerful weapons through a sturdy and rewarding crafting system. After collecting random junk like old sniper telescopes, trumpet horns, or even bananas, you can beat up devastating killing machines. I had a great time maximizing this system and it always felt rewarding to watch my creations rip through monsters. The same stupid satisfaction applies to armor and equipment; My character rocked a mascot helmet and polo shirt that looked ridiculous, but the outfit was expanded to be as sturdy as armor. The urge to make cooler weapons is strong, and looking for new parts has always been worth it, even when I’ve found loot worse than what I already had. That’s because you can sell it anytime, or better yet, break it down into valuable ingredients to make better parts.
Biomutant offers an overwhelming number of side activities that are mediocre best, but too many of them result in simple actions being performed a certain number of times in different locations. The tasks themselves aren’t bad, they’re just the definition of busy work, and the rewards aren’t half the time worth the effort. However, you don’t have to worry about a lack of content in Biomutant. My quest log was overflowing with things that kept me busy for dozens of hours, even if those activities were mostly flat.
While elements on the edges can allow for some level of entertainment, everything feels hollow when directed into an overwhelming narrative core. When you bring your furry hero to life, there are several major tasks ahead of you. Four destructive world eaters are killing the tree of life and it is up to you to stop them. You must also end a tribal war by joining a faction and then uniting or exterminating the rest. In addition, the animal that murdered your family in childhood has resurfaced and needs treatment. Did I mention that there is also a lifesaving ark that has a limited number of seats, and you need to determine which of your allies will get a free ride should the world go sideways?
Biomutant juggles many threads, but none of them intervene. Revenge for the death of your parents has no emotional impact, as the killer hardly plays a role in the story and the final showdown is predictable, anti-climactic. In order to solve the tribal war, it is only necessary to conquer the other settlements in mild confrontations and to decide whether the leaders should be killed or spared. World Eater Missions are by far the most meat on the bones, with various tasks like getting vehicles aimed to prepare you for the big battles. However, the encounter with these beasts consists of sloppily designed boss fights, which rob these titanic battles of any sense of awe. The Ark subplot feels completely unnecessary and doesn’t even make sense if you still manage to save it all. The lackluster storytelling diminishes an already flat moral system that alternates between basic black and white decisions.
During your trip, a pleasant British narrator recites the entire adventure. He’s doing an adequate job, but his rampant interjections outside of cutscenes got on me after a while. The narrator also speaks for each character, depriving them of any individuality, and conversations become boring as you have to wait for the narrator to translate the gibberish of the native creatures. The only other voices you will hear are your two contentious fairies, who are your light and dark sides, and they have become my favorite personalities by default because of their good personalities. I like that both idiots keep belittling each other while getting you to join their side.
A lackluster presentation and technical issues further degrade the experience. Cutscenes are rough thanks to stilted animation and an overall flat delivery. An occasionally shaky camera can zoom into objects during a conversation. The kinematics sometimes ends abruptly and even interrupts the ongoing dialogue. Playing on the PC offers a smoother outing, but various bugs and severe crashes have hampered my adventure on the console.
Biomutant shows promise throughout, but it takes patience and rose-tinted glasses to see them. I really hated my first few hours playing the game, but when I made cooler weapons that made combat more bearable or admired some other postcard-worthy sight, I felt more disappointed than anything. Biomutant contains all the ingredients for a unique, fun adventure. It just spends too much time doing everything possible to impress its audience rather than improving its handful of strengths.