Biomutant is a Refreshingly Weird Action-RPG With a Lot of Potential
From its colorful aesthetic and mutated creatures, Biomutant blends action-RPG gameplay with a weird world that I can't wait to play more of.
As much as I love action-RPGs as a whole, few have ever quite stood out to me in the way that Biomutant has. I was already pretty much sold on the idea of playing as a mutated raccoon-like creature with a sword back when the game was first announced, but getting time with the game for myself has solidified even more that Biomutant has a lot of potential to stand out from other action-RPGs when it (hopefully) arrives later this year.
During PAX East 2019 in Boston, I got to try out Biomutant to get a better feel for how it plays in a demo that showed me some early sections from the game. Though I came into Biomutant with a few ideas of what to expect from the experience — knowing that it would be open-world and feature a plethora of mutated creatures — in a lot of ways the game managed to surprise me and made me even more interested to see what else this world has to offer in the full game.
Biomutant plays out in the style of an action-RPG, and from the beginning of the demo I was immediately put into the character creation screen to customize a mutant of my own. This included altering my character’s traits to whether I wanted a character focused on a specific attribute, such as vitality, agility, strength, charisma, and more, and then moved on to customizing their looks and appearance down to fur color, length and more. However, adjusting these stats not only alters your mutant’s attributes, but also changes their appearance — a more agile character has a lankier build, while a mutant focused on strength has a bit of a stockier look to them. While I went through the character creation screen fairly quickly to move on to the gameplay portions of the demo, it seems like there are a wide variety of options to tinker around with in creating your character, and I’m interested to see more of how altering the different attributes affects your character’s appearance as much as their stats.
In terms of the gameplay, Biomutant feels very much like an action game in the style of something like the Batman: Arkham games, but with added RPG elements to give the player a sense of progression and customization with their character’s abilities. Armed with a pair of makeshift weapons, the combat in Biomutant felt fast-paced and varied as I had to juggle fighting off smaller mutated rodents alongside hulking behemoths. I also encountered segments of the combat where I had to take on shielded enemies that blocked my attacks, giving me the sense that the moment-to-moment combat in Biomutant will offer players a variety of challenges that they will have to adapt to through new enemy types.
What I didn’t expect to see from playing Biomutant was how seemingly tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top that the game would be, compared to the key art I have seen that suggested something a bit more serious in tone. Given that my character had the ability to envelop itself within a giant mucus bubble so that it could bounce to new areas and roll over enemies, developer Experiment 101 really seems to be embracing the unique aesthetic of Biomutant and the possibilities that its mutated creatures offer. It’s a weird game, but I mean that in the best way possible.
That tongue-in-cheek quality especially comes through in the combat, as players can utilize a range of kung-fu powers to take down their opponents, including a set of powerful Super Wushu abilities that can deal devastating blows to enemies. While what I played of the combat seemed pretty familiar to anyone that has played titles like the Batman: Arkham or Middle-earth games, Biomutant‘s RPG-like qualities still seem like they have more to offer beyond just a traditional action-based experience.
Outside of the game’s characters and combat, what really struck out to me as well was the world of Biomutant, which feels refreshingly lively and colorful. While it does take place in a post-apocalyptic setting, Biomutant felt closer to something like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West or Horizon Zero Dawn in how it blends the post-apocalypse with a vibrant setting that feels lived-in and natural. Though I was roaming through dilapidated cities and areas that suggested the collapse of civilization long ago, the lush environments all gave Biomutant the feel that life has begun anew, and made me want to continue diving in further to see the rest of this world and what has become of it.
While I only had a brief window of time to play Biomutant (about 15-20 minutes), what I played so far still felt like a wholly unique experience that has a lot of potential, from its action-packed combat to its (seemingly) extensive RPG mechanics. Though it seems like there are a ton of systems that I had only just begun to scratch the surface of in the demo, Biomutant seems like it has the right amount of character, satisfying combat, and deep exploration to make it feel like one of this year’s potential sleeper hits. Like the mutated creatures that make up the game, Biomutant seems to have found an unusual mixture of genres and gameplay styles that somehow has managed to work in its favor.
Biomutant is currently in development for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and expected to arrive sometime later this year.