If you are looking for a different take on post-apocalyptic storytelling, Biomutant is one of the most unique video games I’ve played. The self-proclaimed, “post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable” offers fresh ideas to help recharge the genre. It breaks away from the glum, washed out tones of other dystopian games and offers more lush environments to explore. From anthropomorphic creatures, vibrant worlds, and interesting twists on the role-playing genre it packs in a lot of fun and interesting ideas. Let’s take a deeper look at the gameplay mechanics, story, and the brave new world Biomutant has created for us to explore.
A brave new (mutated) world
In Biomutant, humanity has had its final “kick at the can” and now animals rule the world. After decades of dumping nuclear waste into the world’s oceans the planet’s animals and ecosystems have been monstrously mutated. You play as a mammalian warrior battling in environments filled with other transmuted creatures. The game features a branching storyline that is affected by player choices and changes the outcome of the end game.
The central plot line is centred around the “Tree of Life” which is threatened by a natural disaster. To add insult to injury, creatures called “World Enders,” start to gnaw at the 5 roots of the tree which is slowly destroying it. While the Tree of Life faces a bleak future, warring tribes look to further their own agendas by either protecting or destroying it.
Biomutant’s Aura System
The game has a Karma and alliance system that lets you join some of these different tribes. You can also opt to remain a “lone wolf” in the world. As you begin to favour one tribe over another you’ll be drawn into conflict with rival groups. Depending on your actions and allies, the attitude of characters and the outcome of the game vary.
Biomutant’s morality system is split into “light” and “dark” sides. The Aura System measures your deeds in good (with light) and bad (with dark) as the story plays out. You can also decide to be more of a “grey” character dipping into both sides of the morality spectrum. The biggest impact of this system comes in the early hours of the game when you need to pick a tribe. One group wants you to save The Tree of Life while reuniting various factions, while the other wants you to destroy the tree and “start over.” After that, you pick up various tasks and make choices that do affect your aura, but the biggest impact is which tribe you align with.
Biomutant is an open world action RPG that features a third-person perspective throughout the experience. At the start of the game, you pick out various aspects that affect your appearance, skill set and gameplay options. The character creation process has you first select one of 6 different “breeds.” You can pick either Primal, Dumdon, Rec, Hyla, Fip or Murgel.
Each one has a different balance across various categories from agility to vitality. From the very beginning these choices affect your appearance, if you add more points into strength, you’ll have a larger hulking character. Opting for a highly intelligent character will give them larger heads and smaller bodies; it’s a neat system that really makes each build unique.
If you decide that your character needs a change in build through the game, you’re in luck. Every time you level up you can add +10 points to a single attribute. This ensures you won’t get stuck with a character that doesn’t match your play style.
Class and skill
Next, you’ll need to pick a class which gives you a starting weapon and a unique skill. The choices are Dead-eye, Commando, Psi-Freak, Saboteur and Sentinel. I ended up picking the Commando due to the well-rounded nature in stats and 10% bonus to ranged attacks. No matter your character build, the game really does a great job letting you play it, how you want to.
A range of options to get you moving
Biomutant allows you to explore the environments from land, sea, and air with a ton of weapons in tow. Depending on your character class you’ll have plenty of melee options too, especially if that’s a playstyle you wish to level-up. Character movement feels natural and fluid especially in big battles. The gameplay itself has some clear influences from games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Fallout 4. These similarities are especially apparent in the hang glider and variety of weapons at your disposal.
As you progress in the game there are new ways to travel through the environment. These come in the form of different vehicles from an air balloon, glider to jet ski and more. The one drawback is that some vehicles are limited to certain areas, otherwise they add a nice amount of variety to break up large swaths of on-foot travel.
Biomutant’s visuals and sound
Biomutant has arrived during a unique time with much of the industry transitioning to next-gen console development. The title was originally designed with the specifications of the PS4 and Xbox One in mind, so visually it lacks next-gen visual effects like ray tracing, split second load times and other upgrades. It is compatible with the PS5 and Xbox Series of consoles but doesn’t make full use of all the new hardware’s capabilities. At the time of writing the Xbox Series X is the only next-gen console that offers the Biomutant experience in native 4K at 60fps. THQ has stated that a next-gen upgrade is on the way, but no firm timeline has been given.
With all this aside, no matter which platform you are playing on, the art direction is beautiful, and the vibrant colour palette really pops. Character models are detailed, with a high level of realism. The gameplay looks and feels fluid with both melee and vehicular combat.
The sound design is also excellent with colour commentary from David Shaw Parker who guides you through the experience. The animals you meet speak in multiple dialects Shaw Parker’s voice translates it all. The one downside is a single voice dominates the experience which might ruin the immersion for some. The environmental audio design is excellent with weapons and character fx sounding otherworldly (in a good way).
Overall thoughts on Biomutant
Biomutant offers many creative twists with post-apocalyptic storytelling and plenty of new ideas. Its adventure feels fresh and all the elements it has borrowed from similar games before it, hit the right notes. Although the game hasn’t been fully optimized for next-gen consoles it still has a punchy, colourful universe worth exploring. The experience falls short with the missions which become very generic. Aside from that, if you are looking for a “post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable,” Biomutant is worth your time.
+ Plentiful amount of customizable weapons
+ Innovative use of character-building tools
+ Funny narration throughout the games
+ A wide variety of vehicles
– Missions can often be redundant and generic
– Combat is unique but not satisfying
– Graphics can be blurry and textures muddy looking at times
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF BIOMUTANT
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5