October 17, 2021

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Biomutant Review – Losing Hours in the Wasteland (PS4)

Biomutant was first announced in 2017. Through the following four years we’ve had long periods of silence about the game from developer Experiment 101, as well as delays. However, away from the limelight, the small team of just 20 developers have been plugging away at their own pace. The result is a post-apocalyptic RPG where animals have taken over the world after humans polluted it so much they brought on their own downfall. For the animals, though, it’s given them mutations, special powers and a chance to practice their kung-fu in peace.

Originally the animals were united as a single tribe, but then an attack by the Lupa-Lupin caused the death of their leader. In the aftermath, the animals split into six individual tribes driven by their own ideals. Then the pollution started causing the Tree of Life, the one thing holding the world together, to start dying. With the fate of the animals now hanging in the balance, the nameless protagonist re-enters the world and holds the key to their fate.

Biomutant Review – Looking Your Very Best

Despite the protagonist’s never-changing appearance throughout the game’s artwork, players can customise their character in many ways to change that. From body shape and species to skin colour from a rainbow wheel that covers the entire spectrum, there’s many ways to make him look completely different. Players can then choose the initial distribution of skill points into categories like agility, strength, charisma, and luck as well as choosing their resistance to dangers like radiation and the freezing cold.

After spending far too long deliberating over my appearance, I got thrown into an overgrown jungle with a branching path and a choice between light and dark. The different auras genuinely change how the character views the world and how other characters view him, as well as what skills become available later into the game. There are many opportunities to gain aura of either type through conversations with other characters, how missions are carried out, and even what players do with creatures they catch.

One of the first things players learn is the rules of combat. With a range of Wung-Fu moves, special abilities and outlandish weapons at his disposal, combat is fun and can be mixed up to suit all different playstyles. Landing enough hits on an enemy with a certain weapon can trigger a special move. Use three different moves during a fight and this triggers the ultimate Super Wung-Fu moves, more powerful attacks available for a limited period of time.

As great as the Super Wing-Fu moves are, it’s not easy switching weapons in the middle of a fight and enemies will usually land a couple of hits on you before you have another weapon ready to go. The behaviour of enemies is supposed to change during the day and night cycle, although all of them always seemed aggressive anyway. They also seem to have an uncanny knack of sensing your presence. As soon as you get too close, combat is triggered even if you are sneaking past them and they are preoccupied doing something else.

Biomutant Review – Choosing Your Abilities

Defeating enemies will earn XP, as will completing missions. Once enough XP is earned, players will level up allowing them to upgrade both their basic abilities and Wung-Fu abilities, the latter unlocking different skills and combat moves. Psi points and Bio points can also be earned by defeating certain types of enemies or finding caches throughout the world. The former unlocks psychic abilities while the latter can be used for other special abilities or resistance to different world dangers like radiation. All give players more options for approaching combat and customising their playstyle.

Once the tutorial is over, the world completely opens up and players can go wherever they choose. The outcome of the story is left completely up to the player. Whereas this is the case with several games, very few make this extremely obvious right at the start of the game. The tribes can be reunited through force or persuasion, or they can be left brawling amongst themselves. The Tree of Life can be saved or it can be left to die. When these missions are tackled is completely up to the player and this is what makes the game come into its own.

Biomutant Review

Traversing the large world takes time. Different animals can be tamed throughout the world to act as mounts, but they move slower than the protagonist and it’s often more efficient to just run to the next destination. As more locations are uncovered, fast travel points can be claimed as any animal would normally mark their territory. These seem randomly placed, though. Sometimes they’ll be within throwing distance, while in other places a large area can be explored before a fast travel point appears.

Waypoints can be marked on the map, although only on top of existing mission markers or fast travel points. The inability to place a waypoint wherever the player chooses makes the function a little redundant, as are many of the map icons. Symbols for different vendors and upgrade benches are piled on top of each other making them unreadable, and a popup window over each location would have been far more effective. Mission markers could also become disorientated, taking me in a completely different direction to where I was supposed to be heading.

Biomutant Review – Treasure Everywhere

As the world is explored, loot can be found everywhere. As well as health kits, there is clothing, and components for gear and weapons to be found. Weapons are rarely found; instead players are better off crafting their own from the many components. The plethora of components throughout the world can almost turn crafting and upgrading into an obsession. Items that aren’t wanted can be sold or scrapped, the latter being important to provide the components for upgrades. While upgrading clothing was always consistent, sometimes the add-on slots didn’t appear when customising weapons. The only way to rectify this was to come out of the menu and move to another location before trying again. The starting pistol is also stuck in inventory limbo as I’m unable to scrap, sell, or upgrade it. At least inventories are endless.

There are lots of great characters to meet throughout the world, each with plenty of humor and most with a rather unusual talent. They’re also the givers of the game’s many side quests, which usually boil down to either finding long-forgotten technology or fetching ingredients or parts needed for their inventions. The technology is so ancient that its real name has been forgotten, so players find themselves looking for things like ping dishes (satellites) or flush stools (toilets). Once found, a simple puzzle will get it working again. Players can try as many times as they like to complete the puzzle without any penalties.

Biomutant Review

The NPCs’ talents unfortunately don’t extend to multitasking, though. Each can only handle one side quest at a time. A quest that required me to purchase an ingredient from another NPC ground to a halt because that NPC instead gave another mission to kill monsters far across the map and got stuck in that conversation loop. Another quest disappeared completely after it encountered the same problem. Despite this, the plethora of side quests means there’s always plenty to do.

While this review may well make it sound like Biomutant is full of bugs, the one thing I might not have made clear is just how easy it is to lose hours to this game. With so much to do, time can fly by without you noticing. Yes, the graphics may not be the best with stuttering and pop-in in places, and there were occasional game crashes, but nothing is game breaking and it’s a lot of fun. The humor will especially appeal to children, while the game is complex enough for adults to enjoy too.

Biomutant review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on a PS5. For more information, please read our Review Policy.

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