Biomutant review: a repetitive, chore-filled (bio)waste of huge open world potential
You can’t knock the ambition of Biomutant. It’s certainly got all the ingredients for a brilliant open world action game, but it sadly doesn’t deliver on that promise.
The debut game from Swedish indie Experiment 101, Biomutant was made by a small team with big ideas. Clearly inspired by other open world games (Breath of the Wild, The Witcher 3), its ambition invites comparison with those games, but never lives up to those expectations.
What it does present is an intriguing world that’s begging to be explored. A twist on the familiar post-apocalyptic setting, the world of Biomutant is inhabited by furry mutant creatures. A plague has ruined the land and you’re tasked with reviving the Tree of Life at the centre and uniting the mutant tribes.
It’s a unique and colourful world of luminous biohazards, unique creature designs, and ruined industrial buildings. Add to that an Asian influence with the game’s “wung-fu” combat, music and plot of a lone wanderer Ronin saving their people, and Biomutant is initially exciting – even if, on PlayStation at least, the vibrant world feels washed out and lacks detail compared to the trailers.
The problem with Biomutant is what you do in that world. There are layers of systems, seemingly intricate combat, and plenty of exploration. But none of it is as original as its setting, nor is it particularly interesting.
Take the main quest. Saving the Tree of Life means beating four Worldeaters (Biomutant’s Divine Beast equivalents) that don’t feel momentous. Instead they’re bullet sponges that require mounts to ride and show up the worst glitches of combat. Beyond that, you must unite the various mutant tribes: a thankless task that means trudging through the same outposts completing the same quests again and again.
Repetition is the main enemy of Biomutant. It’s great to have such a vast and open world to explore, but assets and missions are repeated throughout that makes completing uninteresting fetch quests a chore. It also lacks distinct areas or pathways, so the world blurs into a mass of bio waste, toxic hazards and crumbling facilities.
Combat also seems interesting at first, but never truly develops. Your mutant is able to wield a number of different melee weapons and guns, as well as psi powers and mutant powers. But despite levelling up your character, these abilities never develop – you’ll be using the same powers at the end that you did at the start against very similar enemies.
Worse, the combat lacks any sense of weight or impact. Your character floats around swatting enemies like flies and no amount of combos or powers can make it satisfying, despite its stylish wung-fu animations.
There’s crafting too, with another intriguing ability to combine different makeshift parts into new weapons. That means scavenging the environment for endless loot with which to tinker away, but the upgrades are minimal and the weapon types don’t feel balanced against enemies. Some smaller enemies can take an age to take down, whereas other larger enemies are swiftly dispatched. It makes you wonder if all that tinkering is even worth it.
With so many systems – experience points, bio points, psi points, upgrade points, crafting, an underused morality system – there’s simply too much going on in Biomutant. A stronger focus in a handful of areas could have realised the potential of the world. Instead, it feels laborious to explore.
And that’s before you add in the incessant narrator. The entire story and all creature dialogue is translated by a single narrator: a cute idea that ultimately means every character and tribe merges into one and lacks personality, despite the potential of the lore.
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That’s the crux of Biomutant. It’s a game with huge potential that buckles under the weight of that ambition. Despite apparently unique ideas, it all feels formulaic.
The developer is soon to release a patch to fix some of the criticisms since the game’s launch. But it’ll take a full mutation for the game to reach its potential.
2 / 5
Biomutant is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.