When a game does well, you’re going to see copycats! That’s how the industry works. Really, it’s how most industries work. We can talk about innovation and going new places, but sometimes it’s nice to iterate on what’s worked by taking a successful framework and tweaking it a bit to suit our needs. Case in point: Biomutant, which takes the recently popular Assassin’s Creed/Breath of the Wild idea of a wide-open world to explore and adds on plenty of strange twists to make it feel fresh.
The world used to be a pretty nice place! The Toxanol corporation ensured that there was…well, maybe not prosperity for everyone, but the place was livable enough. Then, as tends to happen, Toxanol let pollution got a tiny bit out of hand. We’re not going to point any fingers because there’s nobody to point them at – humanity is gone, having left the poisoned planet on a set of spacefaring Arks. The world is now populated by mutant creatures of all shapes and sizes, and you’re one of those, a wanderer facing a world that’s slowly dying. It’s up to you whether or not you’ll save the place or condemn it.
Biomutant’s essentially another take on the open-world explorathon we’ve seen several times before with several layers of Weirdpaint slapped on top of it. Run around, search for loot, complete quests and level up to increase your numbers and do the same in more difficult areas! That’s not a bad thing, of course; this arrangement is so popular because it works, after all, and the world of Biomutant is big enough that you’re not going to run out of things to do or see.
That’s the basics, but as mentioned, Biomutant prides itself on its weirdness. The most obviously notable diversion from the norm is the narration and dialogue, all of which are presented by a single, presumably overworked narrator. It’s like Supergiant’s game taken up several notches and that’s definitely going to be a love-it or hate-it kind of thing, though at least the option is there to adjust both narration and dialogue to suit your preferences in terms of exactly how noisy the guy is.
Other than that, well, you’re a little furry mutant dude in a crazy, messed-up world! Things are going to be a little strange. Biomutant’s more than happy to embrace that strangeness from step one; marvel as your character’s stats are based both on your chosen mutant breed and on the actual shape of your body, with charisma-heavy characters grinning constantly and agile characters turning into lanky figures. Along with your breed and build, you’ve got a class to choose from as well, with these defining both your starting setup and several class-specific perks that allow you to define your specialties a little more specifically.
Crazy, messed-up worlds aren’t always friendly, of course, and that means you’ll need to be ready to deal with nastiness when it comes up. Biomutant’s happy to oblige that need with several different combat styles – melee weapons, ranged weapons and powers. Let’s address the elephant in the room here and say that melee combat in Biomutant is workable but very much underwhelming, with powers playing a not-so-close second to guns.
You’re definitely best off grabbing the shootiest dakka you can get hold of and blasting away. Recent patches have already made efforts at closing this gap, so it’s possible that it won’t last forever, but as things currently stand you’ll want to shoot.
That’s not to say that melee and powers need to be ignored entirely, of course – like most other things in Biomutant you can upgrade your skills, find and craft new gear, and specialize yourself however you’d like in order to suit your style. From a crafting perspective, you can find components all over the place and make the perfect weapon for you, while there’s also a wide array of unlockable martial arts attacks, special moves, mutations and psychic powers to dig up as well.
Again, you largely don’t need any of them so long as you use a relatively contemporary firearm, but variety is nice and the mutations in particular can offer some interesting traversal abilities.
Speaking of which, you’ve got a few mechanical traversal options as well in the form of vehicles! There’s a speedboat, several kinds of mount, a mech and more, all of which can also be customized as you’d like. These help frame the game’s boss fights as well, where you’ll typically engage in vehicular combat before battling the bigger beasts one on one. The vehicles are all great fun to drive and decorate, though it’s a little disappointing that they’re mostly unusable outside of their specific areas.
Biomutant leans into the weird, which offers a lot of opportunities for performance to drop and things to run poorly. Thankfully, that’s not necessarily the case. On PC, at least, the game generally runs pretty well with some slight exceptions in more crowded indoor settings. It also sounds pretty good as well, with special mention going to that unflappable and ever-present narrator.
All in all Biomutant is an enjoyable experience from a performance standpoint, though it’s suggested you stick with the PC or Xbox Series X versions as the PS5 version (currently) struggles a little bit more than expected.
In terms of the struggles you will expect, though, the struggle to survive in a mixed-up, broken world is one that’s worth checking out. Don’t come into Biomutant expecting a narrative tour-de-force or anything, but the experience of discovering the ruins of what came before you and scavenging through them really scratches that Fallout itch. The fact that you’ll be doing it as an adorable squirrel child creature armed with a giant gun or two doesn’t hurt, either.