Close to four years ago, Experiment 101 revealed a new IP that turned some heads. They called it BioMutant, and it looked and sounded very promising. Now, after a lengthy delay where the game was almost forgotten, we’re able to experience the fruits of their labour and form proper opinions about what seems to be this developer’s first release.
Mixing a decent sized open world with action/adventure and RPG gameplay elements, BioMutant is a mash-up of inspirations. It’s part Breath of the Wild, part Devil May Cry (albeit only a small part), part Fable, part Jade Empire and so forth. All of this has combined to create a decently fun, immersive, and relatively worthwhile experience.
Things begin with a surprisingly complex character creator, in which players must choose the type, class, DNA, colour and secondary colour of their sentient/mutated animal of a main character. Then, they’ll be tasked with picking its attributes, by choosing a point in a graph that shows all of the main characteristics: vitality, strength, luck, etc. Due to this design, each player’s character will be (at least) slightly different, and almost none will be the same.
The character creator is a bit confusing, because it doesn’t do a great job of describing everything to you. I got stuck there for a bit, but ended up just going with the class that sounded best and choosing stats that favoured vitality first and foremost. You likely don’t know this about me, but I’m someone who tends to favour health when it comes to perks and upgrades. I’m always worried that things will get much harder, and that I’ll end up stuck and unable to beat the game. That rarely happens though.
Unfortunately, things don’t get less confusing or overwhelming once you actually start levelling up. Reason being is that BioMutant tries to do a lot, and doesn’t explain itself as well as it should. You’ll earn upgrade points that can boost your health, strength, luck, etc. On top of that, you’ll also earn separate types of points, which are used to unlock new kung-fu combos, new abilities, decrease the damage you’ll receive from certain elements and mutate your character further. Then there’s the mediocre crafting system, which takes advantage of parts found in rubbish piles, mounds of dirt and more. It’s a lot to keep track of and to try to understand, and this lack of proper explanation makes things both confusing and overwhelming.
The good news is that you’ll eventually get the hang of these things, and will even be able to re-code your hero if you choose. You’ll also find different pieces of armor and cosmetic improvements, which can keep you safer and make you look nicer. This complements a weaponry system that allows one to find and equip different melee weapons and guns, allowing players to mix close, mutant and ranged combat together, kind of like in Devil May Cry. That’s why I mentioned it above.
The general gameplay loop involves traversing a ruined and overgrown planet that strongly resembles Earth. Along the way you’ll fight enemies, defeat bosses and choose which warring faction you wish to ally with. Through the latter mechanic, some tasks will involve invading enemy encampments and overtaking them. You’ll then find more fast travel points, all of which must be peed on to unlock, which makes sense given that you’re an animal that can scent things.
The paths and allies that one chooses will have a direct effect on BioMutant‘s karma system, which uses choices and actions to dictate between light and dark. Whether you wish to save this world or harm it, your karma will differ. Saving it will involve freeing the struggling Tree of Life from the danger it’s threatened by, and ruining it will require an opposite action. The tribe you work with will also affect and complement this system.
Those who pay attention to the game world and the story will realize that BioMutant is a kind of warning. Its ruined world and piecemeal history tells a tale of human greed and environmental destruction by way of industry. After a mass extinction event, only mutated creatures remain, including the mammalian one we get to create and control.
A friend who received earlier access to this title told me that it was a game of the year contender in his opinion. I heard that before I started playing, and expected a lot from it as a result. Perhaps
I expected too much, because I honestly didn’t feel the same as him. I liked what I played, and was happy for my time with the game, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a masterpiece that deserves game of the year recognition. It’s pretty good and well worth playing, but it’s not incredible.
To each their own, though, right?
The downside to BioMutant is that almost everything it presents and offers has been done better before. It borrows from superior games, but does manage to present a fun, immersive and interesting campaign that isn’t bogged down too much by this fact. Thus, the main character’s quest to destroy the massive world eaters before they kill the Tree of Life is an interesting and enjoyable one, even if it isn’t as unique as it could’ve been. The combat is fun, the mech you get to use is pretty badass, and there are lots of collectibles and a decent amount of side quests to focus on outside of the core campaign. With that being said, one can beat this thing in about fifteen hours, or spend a lot more time with it by worrying about collectibles, secrets and side quests.
It’s also not as action-packed as you may think. There’s a lot of empty space to traverse, either on foot or on a mount. I personally expected more enemies and a lot more combat.
Visually, this is a bit of a mixed bag. While it looks really nice during sunny days, BioMutant‘s darkened interiors can look somewhat muddy. You’ll likely want to increase the brightness a bit as a result.
Moving on, the sound effects are solid, loud and pretty boisterous, but the dialogue isn’t delivered by voice actors. Instead, a narrator reads the noises that come out of other characters’ mouths. It’s also all driven by dialogue choices, which allow you to ask questions and learn more about the world and its plight. Sometimes these decisions will affect your karma, as well.
At the end of the day, BioMutant is a slightly odd combination of mechanics without a true identity. Perhaps being in development for so long, and receiving delays from 2018 to 2021 had a factor in this. Despite all of the above, it’s a pretty solid game that is worth playing if you’re looking for an open world action/adventure title with some badass weaponry. Just don’t expect a masterpiece.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which was played using our Xbox Series S review unit. We were provided with a review code.
- Large open world
- Lots of weapons, armor and customization options
- A relaxing sandbox experience
- Not as action packed as expected
- Doesn't have a true identity, and borrows a lot from other games
- Can be confusing and overwhelming