REVIEW – Developed over roughly seven years and already postponed many times, Biomutant is a truly “green” video game – perhaps greener than any other post-apocalyptic game ever made, because here humanity has become completely extinct due to pollution – there are no survivors, no “last of us”.
A civilisation ruled by man has been replaced by a universe of animals mutated by toxic waste and pollution, who are fighting each other in this post-apocalyptic world. And we control a lone survivor, a mutant raccoon, driven by, among other things, a desire for revenge and a desire to save a world on its way to total destruction. So it’s up to us to shape the events in Biomutant, which is a bit like mixing the PS4 open world bestseller Horizon Zero Dawn with Peter Molyneux’s classic Fable, with a spoonful of Kung Fu Panda and a dash of Zelda thrown in for good measure.
Only the bio-mutants survived…
As the game gradually reveals, the evolution of the human world and its need for energy has led to the aggressive rise of a company called Toxanol. Toxanol has made the world reliant on nuclear energy, and has recklessly leaked nuclear waste into the environment worldwide – the undoing of humanity.
Biomutant is set in this overgrown, post-apocalyptic world, following an event known as the Last Days. Our character is one of the many anthropomorphic animals that inhabit this new reality. The past of our hero, who suffers from amnesia, is slowly revealed through flashbacks, showing us what life was like as a child, and it is here that we meet the main villain of the game.
Although it sounds extremely depressing, the game has a real Pixar feel that is both charming and heartbreaking. Whereas the destruction of the Earth has not wiped out the vegetation in many places, after the extinction of mankind, in many places the vegetation has just about completely overrun the destroyed environment. The universe of Biomutant should be imagined as a green Mad Max world, with mutant animals instead of human gangs and warriors, with strange, unique vehicles instead of cars, with back animals.
Slipped over from the previous generation of consoles
The modestly sized (twenty-player) Experiment 101 game was supposed to be released in 2018, but it was continually delayed again and again until Biomutant hit stores, so it’s no wonder that it ended up arriving on previous-generation consoles more than half a year after the arrival of the newer console generation. There are no PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions, Biomutant was released for PS4 and Xbox One, but fortunately and thanks to the backwards compatibility of the two major console manufacturers, it not only works without a hitch, but also with various extras. We tested the game on Xbox Series X, where we got a true 4K display with 60 FPS frame rate. On PlayStation 5, the situation is not so rosy: for technical reasons, the developers couldn’t get the game to run at 60 FPS on Sony’s latest release, so PS5 (and PS4 Pro) owners will have to settle for a scaled-up 1080p resolution.
As for the game’s graphics, Biomutant dazzles both with its basically gorgeous visuals and its less sophisticated solutions. From the lush vegetation in many places, to the mutant animal civilisation reminiscent of medieval villages and small towns, to the darker, more sinister locations littered with nuclear and other waste, the team has done a professional job of rendering the environments with a real sense of professionalism, and in 4K, you really do get a great view when you look at the environment.
Equally professional are the majority of the mutant creatures – especially our own raccoon, who has a dizzying variety of looks to choose from, but we can’t complain about the workmanship of the hulking World Eater monsters.
However, you may notice some blurred textures or blurrier backgrounds in places, which detract from the visuals. All in all, Biomutant is a nice game, but it could have been improved.
You can have everything?
In terms of gameplay, Biomutant didn’t invent Spanish wax, but the Swedish team has tried to take all the gameplay elements from other RPGs, action RPGs and open world titles that work well there. Here, too, there is a wide variety of mutant raccoon characters to choose from, with lots of unique traits, “wungfutusa” (which translates to “kungfu” in the game’s joke language, and covers a variety of unique combat options) and other abilities. Biomutant offers surprisingly deep role-playing options for a pixar-style game, with tons of choices, suffnituning of suits and weapons, new weapon crafting options, and more.
Main missions often offer more options, and there are many side missions to choose from as you explore the world. The icing on the cake is that there’s even a separate morality system, strongly reminiscent of Peter Molyneux’s other classic (the developers are apparently big fans of Molyneux’s titles), Black & White, where our moral choices involve two creatures – one representing darkness and another representing light – who campaign to convince us of their point of view. Our various choices will, of course, have an impact on the story and the way the creatures around us relate to us.
It is also worth mentioning the various tribal factions that we can choose to join, and which have different attitudes to whether and how we should save the Tree of Life that still keeps the world alive. Perhaps needless to say, tribes also influence our moral stance.
I could go on and on about how many possibilities have been crammed into Biomutant, but perhaps that’s enough to show how incredibly complex the animated cinematic visuals are. In fact, that’s a bit of the fundamental problem with Biomutant: the makers clearly wanted to implement too much, and in type of a team of novices, game elements didn’t cut that would have been better left out of the final version.
Somehow, because so much was added to the game, many elements were left a little unpolished.
For example, the combat system, which is reminiscent of both Devil May Cry and The Witcher 3 (with a bit of Max Payne-like slow motion thrown in), the handling of vehicles and sometimes the way the maps are drawn up are not precise enough. There are also some logical sections, but they are so childishly simple that you can feel that they were put in the game just to be there.
If we can rise above its flaws and accept that the game of this small Swedish team with too much ambition is no match for the more polished, triple-A titles of the open-world action RPG genre, we’ll have fun with Biomutant, but unfortunately, the cliché that less is sometimes more is true here too.
+ Perfect ambience
+ It was written nicely
+ Replayability in ALL CAPS
– The audio is not so subpar as before
– It should look a bit better
– I gave it a 9 for a good reason… I’m not going to nitpick!
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Experiment 101
Release date: May 25, 2021