For transparency reasons I’d like to preface this review by stating that I’m well acquainted with two of the devs who worked on the game. Those of you who follow my podcast – That Beautiful Life, will know that both my co-host’s sons worked on Biomutant. That being said, despite my closeness with them I’ve done my due diligence to ensure that I’m as unbiased as possible with this title. A title which, spoilers, is already my Game of the Year for 2021.
In Biomutant you play as a little mutant creature trying to save the world. No big task, right? Well this is a world ravaged by pollution, plagued with giant mutant beast while at the same time being ravaged by war between rival furry factions. How you choose to interact with this world is mostly up to you and that freedom is the first major positive for the game. From the off you’re given a little bit of tutorial, then left to your own devices.
There’s no hand holding in Biomutant and I love it!
You can choose to join any of the tribes or leave for another whenever you so desire. You can ignore the story and explore or focus on following the beats laid out by its creators. How you engage with it is all completely up to you and there’s a lot to engage with.
The world of Biomutant is a sizable 8 square kilometres of densely packed biomes, creatures and loot. The devs took this dynamic setting, then chucked it full with traversal options. From hovering like Magneto to a goddam mech. What were they thinking tossing so much brilliance in a single experience? How were they able to make it all work so seamlessly? And why is it that a title like this, created by a team of about 20 devs can be so polished, while others with more resources are not? The short answer is that the devs (at least the ones I know personally) are actual life long gamers who were given the time and creative freedom to make a fun experience.
Biomutant exudes charm while paying homage to it’s inspirations. This a game with a world map filled with tasks like a modern Assassin’s Creed, Freedom like Breath of the Wild, while sporting Combat akin to Arkham Asylum fused with Ratchet and Clank, plus a sprinkle of Devil May Cry. At your arsenal you have multiple types of mechanically unique customizable weapons, abilities and buffs. All the mechanics work well together with an effortless amount of ease and visual flair that’s difficult not to appreciate. A good example is a combat sequence which sees the player strike multiple enemies then parry one into a stun then air combo, land with a double ice blast, dodge into open space then switch to dual pistols while hovering. That’s Biomutant. It’s fanatic fluid gameplay at it’s best.
The Fortnite In the Room
All of this running on what is essentially the same engine is (throw-up) Fortnite. Obviously having it run on the Unreal Engine has it’s benefits including advance lighting, textures, and quality of life feature for devs but sadly players may be too distracted to notice. Most older players who exist outside of the Battle Royale genre can’t stand the sight of Fortnite and unfortunately Biomutant shares a lot of visual similarities with that title from menus to weapon textures. Outside of the menus it’s akin to Ghost of Tsushima in some settings but the minute that menu pops, its fortnite all influence shines. What I’ll say as someone who is not interested in Fortnite, is that the menu visuals won’t affect you past an hour of investment. Bear with it and you’ll come out thankful on the tail end.
Having such a versatile engine also allows for a tremendous amount of compatibility with different machines. A majority of this review was completed using the PC version of the game running on a Radeon RX 6800 XT at max setting at 4K 60 but the GTX 1060 (the most popular GPU according to steam) will also run the game well albeit at mid to high settings with G-sync if possible. Obviously everyone has different configurations for CPU and GPU which will affect how it may perform for you however most PCs should be able to run it. What’s more important though is making sure you install it on an SSD because the entire map loads in almost at once. Without an SSD you will encounter long loading times as well as some noticeable stutters when transitioning between segments of the map. The loading isn’t an issue once you’re loaded in but should your character perish, you’ll be waiting more than a minute to get back in the action.
All good things come to an end
Sticking with the cons, the game also has no mini map (a crime if you ask me) and there are a few noticeable lower res textures, example the flies and moths. Get too close and it’s painfully apparent how basic they are. Also there was one bug encountered once in my more than 30hrs of play which prevented me from using one of the special abilities. Fixing it was as simple as using my keyboard to hotkey it then returning to the controller. And speaking of controls, Biomutant supports both Xbox and PlayStation controllers out of the box with full on screen mapping for both. Just make sure to enable PlayStation controller support for the dual shock if you grab it on steam.
Now brace yourself, I’m about to go full superfan about all the things I love about the game. Firstly, the narration. It’s all fully voiced in English, German, Spanish, French, Polish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Simplified Chinese. And the kicker is that every one of those voice actors sound magnificent and can be switched on the fly. Which is great because you’ll be listening to them and them alone for the entirety of your adventure. Characters in-game all have different voices but they speak some sort of charming gibberish so the narrators translate all of it for you. Each narrator is deliberate in their delivery, taking time to enunciate each syllable properly for effect. It’s so good that you’ll be able to easily appreciate them even if you don’t understand the languages. I’d even go so far as to compare them to the legend that is David Attenborough.
All the loot, Gear and Collectables you would need
Following that up with a splendid customization and crafting system just adds more cream to the pie. While you adventure you’ll find varying grades of loot, meet new characters and new tools to add to your arsenal. Some will be handy for traversal while others may buff your immunity to hazardous environmental extremities. You can also trade with merchants or use upgrade benches to boost your favorite gear. Some weapons may even have elemental effects or special traits to further enhance your lethality. Due to the game having different biomes with varying hazards and enemy types, the devs have included a handy outfit system. With it you’re able to pre-set certain outfits then swap them on the fly. It’s a game whereby most of its elements have been considered by people who actually play games and it shows.
Even the story and side quests are meaty enough and well optimized for players who wish to play at their own pace. I won’t spoil the plot because I think it’s something you’ll need to experience yourself but let’s just say that it’s a post apocalyptic tale about species after humans who may be leading their era to a similar fate as their predecessors. Outside of that is just charming with sometimes dark tales of war, family and of course fetch quests. There’s even a morality system which affects some of the abilities you can unlock along with the story.
Oh wow, I’ve gotten to the end and I’ve not even talked about the Mecha or other forms of traversal in the but take my word for it, it’s all just as polished as pretty much every other aspect of the game. Biomutant is a game that pays homage to lots of greats like Nioh, Ghost of Tsushima, The Legend of Zelda and so much more.
- It’s combat – exceptional
- Story – Splendid
- Visuals – Gorgeous
- And overall other gameplay elements – magnifique
Biomutant is a game that you simply need to play to understand just how good it is and it’s an IP I hope we see much more of in the future. I don’t yet have experience with other versions of the game but hopefully I’ll be making an addition to this review with coverage of the PS4, Xbox and PS5 versions in the near future.
The review copy for Biomutant was provided to us by the Publisher THQ Nordic.