Biomutant review

By Heidi Nicholas,
Sprinkler Smicksharper. Extermino Boskrapster. Bangbitsky Jupspitko. These are all very real things in Biomutant, and showcase one of its biggest strengths: its inventiveness. In the vivid post-apocalyptic world of Biomutant, inhabitants have any number of brilliant names for the things that came before — such as “pling-plong booths” for phone booths — as well as for its own everyday items, such as Bosks, Old World Klonks, and Sizzlefluff poo. This creativity is evident in the wide variety of bizarre mounts, weapons, armour, and resources you can find in Biomutant, and really lends to the sense that you’re setting out on an adventure to explore a vibrant new world.


However, this inventiveness is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to crafting. Crafting is a major part of the game, and you’re given a wonderful amount of flexibility in the types of weapons and modifications you can make — anything from a loo brush to a katana is on the table as a potential weapon, and a lot of the outlandish loot you scavenge can be used to enhance or upgrade items still further. But this flexibility is also a drawback in that Biomutant can feel, especially at first, a little overwhelming. There is just so much stuff and so much to do with it that I wasn’t quite sure where to start. It took me a while just to get used to levelling up — you have Upgrade Points, Bio Points, and Psi-Points to use on biogenetic mutations or psi-powers, as well as a range of Wung-Fu combat moves, and general and dead-eye perks — let alone to get to grips with crafting. Biomutant’s brilliantly wacky names for its everyday items never get old, but they too can lead to some confusion. I had no idea, from the Sterps, Squez, and Whorls, what was an upgrade part, a useful resource, a modification, or just something to be sold, leading my tiny Wung-Fu warrior to load everything he found into his backpack, refusing to sell any of it until certain of what it was. If Biomutant has an index, I haven’t yet found it, but the game could really benefit from an encyclopedia of some sort, or from a resource to check each bizarrely-named thing to find out if it is a character, weapon mod, or something else.

Biomutant review

The wonderful creativity behind Biomutant is also sometimes let down by the game itself. Despite nearly every NPC you meet talking about your mysterious past, and the occasional flashbacks you play through, Biomutant’s story feels oddly detached and disjointed. This detachment is reinforced in part by the game’s narrator, and by the existence of ‘dark’ and ‘light’ auras. Your character can fluctuate between dark and light through certain actions or by choosing specific dialogue options. The only problem is that it’s not always clear which is the ‘bad’ or ‘good’ option, or even how certain actions might play out. For instance, I was standing next to a group of allies, with my eye on a nearby box of something that looked like fruit. I saw the prompt to “interact” with it and did so, thinking, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, in this case, the worst that could happen is that I set fire to it, causing a huge blaze, darkening my aura, and making all my new-found allies flee in terror from the fire-starting fiend.

These ‘light’ and ‘dark’ parts of you are represented by tiny characters who pop up to snipe at each other every time you make a significant ‘bad’ or ‘good’ choice. They do serve as a good reminder of your character’s current affiliation, but the dialogue from these tiny helpers is often quite vague. Every other character in the game, meanwhile, talks in its own language, with the narrator then translating what they said, but until you get a little more used to the rhythm of the translation and narration, it can be quite tricky to be sure of who’s speaking — sometimes the narrator translates directly, sometimes he paraphrases, sometimes he just gives the general idea of what’s being said. Combine this with Biomutant’s habit of filling nearly every sentence with bizarre names or phrases, and it can leave you feeling a bit lost. The narrator also chimes in with commentary every now and again while you’re exploring. The frequency of this can be adjusted if you prefer less interruption, but the phrases he comes out with often sound vague and unrelated to the game itself — apart from one exception, when I was spending a nice sunny day playing with my new mushroom-sprouting powers, and he broke in to remind me of the world-ending chaos going on with an idle guilt trip, asking, “how many days like this do you think the world has left?”

Biomutant review

Speaking of Biomutant’s world: it’s enormous. One of Biomutant’s biggest successes is that although you can, in theory, follow the main story and face the big world-ending bosses fairly quickly after finishing with the tutorial section, you won’t actually want to — much like Immortals Fenyx Rising, you’re more than likely to set your waypoint, start out on your journey to it, and then become distracted by any number of intriguing ruins, bases, points of interest, or far-off flashes of promising loot. The world itself is lovely, and full of the wreckage of what came before: rusted cars, dilapidated houses, and factory ruins, each of which is more than inviting to explore, and is most likely chock-full of loot. Traversal feels lovely and fluid, with your little character changing smoothly from jogging on two feet to sprinting on four. If you fancy making your journey a little more quickly, you can use fast travel — you activate new fast travel points by peeing on them — or by using a mount, and Biomutant’s inventiveness shines through once again here in the wide variety of weird and wacky mounts available. There’s a wonderful fluidity to the movement of these mounts, while the agility of your Wung-Fu warrior makes double-jumping or sprinting feel smooth and natural. Your companion can also learn helpful traversal abilities, and the ability to glide adds another pleasing exploration option. You also have a range of mech suits and vehicles to use when entering a dangerous area; somewhere low in oxygen, or full of polluting toxins. My personal favourite was the jetski-type vehicle called a Goo Glider, and vaulting on or off this to change from land to sea exploration was wonderfully smooth.

Biomutant review

What’s odd, however, is that this fluidity of movement doesn’t always translate into Biomutant’s combat, which, especially at first, can feel oddly clunky and disjointed. Biomutant here also suffers from a similar drawback to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, in that combat can feel a little stale and repetitive until you progress far enough to unlock new abilities and moves. By the end of my 20+ hours with the game, I’d unlocked a few biogenetic mutations and psi-powers, one of which could inflict ranged damage, while another turned my enemies against each other, leaving me free to hang back and shoot with my Extermino Boskrapster, which I’d modified and upgraded as much as I could. This added a welcome variety to an aspect of the game which had felt underwhelming. Your character does have a variety of Wung-Fu moves to learn, but basic combat moves did feel slow and a little clunky to enact, especially at the beginning of the game. It’s also worth noting that if you like a challenge, it might be best to start out on Hard difficulty. I played on Normal, and managed to beat two of the four world-destroying bosses on my first go by just hanging back and using my ranged weapon. Attacking forts also feels a bit abrupt, with only a few waves of enemies to defeat, and a quick cutscene of your allies moving in. Visually, the effects of mutations and powers look awesome, and your fighting is often accompanied by comic-book style words and phrases popping up overhead. Again, the variety of combat moves improves as the game progresses — my current favourite is one which spawns mushrooms under enemies, leaving them to bounce helplessly, and I’m working towards an awesome levitation one — and Biomutant’s combat can feel like an entirely different beast depending on which mutations, powers, and Wung-Fu moves you decide to build your little critter around.

Summary

Biomutant really feels like it has so much heart behind it, and that’s more than enough of a pull to keep you coming back for more. You could just focus on those end-game bosses, but it would be a crime to do so — Biomutant’s expansive world offers so much that you’ll lose hours to exploration before even thinking about taking on some of those sidequests. It’s also a breath of fresh air to see the unique combination of inspirations and themes behind the game, which do indeed help it to stand apart as a real mash-up of genres wrapped up in a “post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable.” The only issues are where Biomutant doesn’t quite measure up to the scope and complexity it offers, leaving it feeling as though a little more polish would complete its transformation into a real gem.
3.5 / 5
Biomutant
Ethics
Heidi spent over 20 hours learning new Wung-Fu moves and taming as many weird mounts as she could find, earning 12 achievements in the process (although the list isn't live at the time of writing).
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've been a staff writer for TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies since 2019. I love open-worlders, RPGs, and fantasy games, am obsessed with tea, and forever loyal to The Witcher 3 and Red Dead 2.