Experiment 101's Biomutant
was the very last game I got to play at PAX West this year, but it's the very first one I'm writing about now because I feel like I have to get the message out to more people that this game is shaping up to be fantastic, and a lot of that is owed to the simple fact that it exists in the first place.
Biomutant: It's like if the Ewoks didn't suck.
It's hard to nail down a genre for Biomutant
, and that begins to explain what makes it so cool. In my 30 minutes with the game, I did a lot of melee and ranged combat a la Darksiders
, though the movements were much more fluid and that's a difference that feels both very welcome and very appropriate as the protagonist is a short bipedal rodent of some kind. If you haven't yet seen much from Biomutant
, think Master Splinter from Ninja Turtles
, only shorter, faster, and occasionally steering a giant mech. Or maybe an Ewok, but cool.
There's so much going on in this game and somehow it's all coming together so smoothly. I'd been dying to play for a while now, and finally getting to go hands-on with it this past weekend, I didn't know if it could live up to my lofty expectations — but it did. So much about Biomutant
makes it stick out as a miracle for even existing. For one, the hero is unlike any other video game star today. Most games of this sort give us gritty anti-heroes, wise-cracking sarcasm dispensers, or coming-of-age prodigies. Heroes like that in Biomutant
aren't the stars of the show, they're the Rocket Raccoons, filling in with solid work while Chris Pratt looks handsome and sells copies. But in Biomutant
, Rocket Raccoon is front and center.
To put a customizable and seemingly voiceless rodent in the main role of a new IP like this seems especially daring. They can't easily market the hero because it'll look different for everyone playing thanks to an extensive character customization suite. On top of that, what do they say this game is? It's an action game, sure, but not just that. It's got the platforming, the mech combat, the bosses, the exploration, the RPG elements, the comic book aesthetic. It's like Experiment 101 took their best-case dream scenario of a game and, as far as I can tell so far, got it to all come together and work fluidly. What I played was exceptionally fun and I'm now more excited than ever to see more of it.
I spoke to one of the developers and asked him specifically about this approach. How can a game like this exist, when it's so much all at once and none of it seems safe? He said his boss, referring to Stefan Ljungqvist (formerly of Avalanche), approaches all ideas with a "why not?" attitude. It's a real kitchen sink game, and remarkably it's working. Ljungqvist's previous work on Mad Max
and the Just Cause
series shines in the demo, as it loves a good explosive scene, like the studio builds the mayhem with a similar sense of glee that comes through in those previous games.
Biomutant Enemy design is all over the place which once again feels daring and praiseworthy.
was recently pushed back to summer of next year
, which seems like a smart window for it. That'll allow it to breath, away from the chaos of either next spring or the holiday season, settling into a sweet spot in between. With such a weird and wonderful world, it feels destined to be off the radar of too many leading up to release. But if the full game is as fun and unpredictable as what I played, it'll quickly make a name for itself soon thereafter.