Biomutant Review - Kung-Fu Blander
Review copy provided by the publisher
When it was revealed all the way back in 2017, Biomutant was described as a “post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable”.
The reveal trailer caused plenty of intrigue amongst prospective fans, including myself, and despite a shaky development cycle, has been near the top of many people’s most anticipated lists.
While the initial cinematic trailer showed heaps of promise, unfortunately, the final product doesn’t really follow through on that.
One promise that Biomutant does follow through on early on, is deep character customisation.
As you load up the game, you step into a world where you can truly customise your little rodent character. You can choose your breed, your genetics and attributes, environmental resistances, looks and finally, your class.
The possible combinations of the above are almost infinite, meaning you can start out the game with a character of your exact liking.
Each class offers a nice balance of stats and focuses on a different playstyle – including ranged, melee, psionic powers and more.
I opted for the more melee-focused Saboteur class, for no other reason than they looked the coolest, but I kind of regretted my decision as I often found that despite being melee-focused, ranged weapons were just way more effective.
That being said, this didn’t detract from my overall gameplay as it was easy enough to pivot into more of a ranger class. It’s just a shame the later upgrades weren’t particularly exciting.
Following my creation of my little dude, I was sent out into the big wide world of Biomutant and was instantly greeted with a choice as part of the games aura (karma) system.
Like Fable before it, Biomutant has a karma-like system running through it meaning the decisions you make throughout the game effect the way other characters see you and ultimately, the ending you receive.
While I generally enjoy karma systems in games, Biomutant’s feels a little bit flat. Although the ending is vastly different, it never felt like the consequences of my actions were too impactful.
I chose a dark aura playthrough and never did I really feel that my decisions changed much. Characters still greeted me in similar ways and aside from a few scathing remarks, were still as happy as ever to give me quests and help me to proceed on my missions.
After making my karmic choice, I was then truly free to explore Biomutant’s vast open world.
Despite some hiccups surrounding launch, I played the game on my PS5 and really liked the artistic direction.
There’s a range of very different biomes, each better looking than the last. I made my way through frigid fields, fiery deserts and apocalyptic wastelands and was generally impressed with the way it looked.
Sadly, that’s where my love for Biomutant’s world ends and my criticisms begin.
Despite looking beautiful, everything else was a bit dull. I appreciate we’re living in a post-apocalyptic animal-centric world but everything about Biomutant’s locales, including the characters, buildings and enemies felt a bit bland.
There was very minimal variation in enemy design from location to location and the NPC’s were generally the same.
There were some interesting nods to the before times, including some old-timey gadgets but these didn’t particularly add much, other than one more excuse to fit in yet another rotation puzzle, which the game is totally bogged down with.
I think part of what made the NPC’s and Biomutant’s broader world so hard to connect with is the fact that none of the characters had voices and instead just spoke a load of “gibberish” as it’s described in-game.
Instead of speaking themselves, the animal’s words were relayed by the narrator and this is immensely frustrating. Everything felt deeply impersonal and because of this, there wasn’t a single memorable character after my 30-hour playthrough.
Maybe I’m turning into a grumpy old sod as I get older, but Biomutant’s attempt at humour also misses the mark and just added even more to my frustration.
The game renames items in the most childish of ways. I ran into an arms dealer, who was called a “Pew Pew Broker”, my knife was called a “Clencher Stabby” and I battled an enemy called “Big Bum”. This theme runs throughout the whole game and is equal parts cringeworthy and annoying.
I think this was one of my bigger problems. I felt like Biomutant suffered from a major identity crisis.
It was trying to sell this post-apocalyptic fight for survival, coupled with a grand war between six different tribes, yet was just cripplingly unfunny and oftentimes pretty immature.
The juxtaposition of the two just did not work for me.
Speaking of the tribal war, this felt like another massively missed opportunity.
Running alongside the main story, players can ally with a tribe in order to conquer the others. Initially, this felt like a nice distraction from the main story and I was really excited to dive in, however, it ultimately turned out to be paper-thin and ultra repetitive.
Fundamentally, taking down each tribe consisted of the exact same activities. First, you need to conquer three outposts, one by winning an arena battle, one by assaulting the stronghold and one by completing a mission outside of the stronghold. Then, you head for the main fortress to tackle the Sifu, but before you do so, you have to complete a pre-assault fetch quest. Formulaic.
My gripes don’t stop there – this repetitive structuring was rife throughout Biomutant.
Fetch quests aplenty, incredibly samey puzzles, four bosses that look suspiciously similar and a range of fights littered throughout the world that just felt identical.
Overall, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Biomutant, except for maybe the narration and item names. The game will definitely find a fanbase but it just doesn’t do enough to stand out, especially with the pre-launch promise the game showed.
It suffers from many of the same problems that I found with Immortals Fenyx Rising. It looks pretty and is fun in parts, but is ultimately just a little bit bland.