Biomutant is a charming open-world RPG that is blatantly aimed at children, with a low difficulty level and overly cutesy tone that will likely put off older gamers. Combat is fun with a large range of craftable weapons and mutant powers at your disposal, but boring puzzles and a barebones story means there isn’t much else here to keep you captivated.
- Gorgeous world to explore
- Fast-paced combat makes you feel like a ninja
- Lots of crafting and upgrade options
- Vehicle-based boss encounters feel unique
- Overbearing narrator is very annoying
- Childish tone and low difficulty is off-putting for older gamers
- Low number of enemy variations
- Map feels empty, with lots of generic loot
- Platforms:PS4, Xbox One and PC
- Open-world adventure:Biomutant is a third-person open-world RPG
- Aimed at children:A low difficulty and storybook tone makes Biomutant ideal for children
Placing the furry critters of Kung Fu Panda in the post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout for an unofficial crossover is one of the oddest matchups you could think of for an open-world RPG, yet Biomutant looks to have done just that with surprising success.
While nukes haven’t decimated the world of BioMutant, it’s repeatedly made clear throughout your adventure that pollution has adversely affected both the environment and its inhabitants, supposedly killing off humans many decades prior.
Anthropomorphic furry critters ranging from wheelchair-bound otters to brutish badgers wielding makeshift longswords now roam the world instead. You take control of one of these mutated creatures with the task of saving the world from an upcoming natural disaster.
It’s an interesting and unique premise, and with multiple innovations plucked from some of the very best games in recent history – from Breath of the Wild to Borderlands – it seemingly has all the hallmarks to be an enjoyable open-world adventure.
But is it good enough to qualify for our Best PS4 games and Best Xbox One games lists? I’d argue not, with an overbearing narrator and gentle difficulty curve combining to create a tone that only children will likely appreciate, failing to offer a more widespread appeal that the likes of Ratchet and Clank and Crash Bandicoot have previously mastered.
- Post-apocalyptic setting is fascinating and gorgeous
- Childish tone and narrator will put off older gamers
- Morality system is too binary to be interesting
Biomutant’s story revolves around the world you inhabit, which is gradually recovering from pollution that devastated it decades before. There are reminders of this apocalyptic past scattered all over the map, with abandoned towns, lifeless oil fields and lakes of toxic sludge making up the world.
But thanks to the mountain-sized Tree of Life in the centre of the map, the world has largely recovered with lush green meadows and thickets of rainforests turning the post-apocalyptic world into a gorgeous and vibrant landscape. When riding across the map, I’d often rotate the camera around just to soak up the eye-catching vistas on display.
However, Biomutant’s story sees this peaceful world under threat, with various monsters called ‘World Eaters’ gnawing away at the roots of the Tree of Life to rid the world of its restoration powers and put the various fuzzy-haired creatures at risk of imminent doom.
Your main objective is to take down these monstrous threats. It’s a very simple and straightforward story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But additional padding – such as countless fetch quests – needlessly stretches out the campaign to last around 15 hours.
With such a simple plot, the strength of the story relies heavily on the zany personalities of the many friendly creatures you meet. There’s little depth to these characters, but they all have memorable quirks such as a fox who’s obsessed with trains and a peace-loving panda.
However, there’s no voice acting for any of the characters, with an omnipresent narrator instead translating their growls and garbles. By having one narrator vocalise all of the game’s dialogue, conversations feel mind-numbingly repetitive quickly, while also diluting the personalities of the individual characters. I personally don’t think the narrator was required at all, as the voiceless characters of Animal Crossing are far more enjoyable to interact with than anyone in Biomutant.
To make matters worse, the narrator constantly chimes in to narrate your in-game actions, whether you’re battling enemies, solving puzzles or simply exploring the world. There is an option in the settings to reduce the frequency of the narrator’s outbursts, but I still felt it far too obtrusive after pushing the slider all the way to the bottom.
The narrator feels extremely patronising too, and while the game is clearly aimed at children, it’s far too simplistic for any but the youngest of kids. This isn’t helped by the frustratingly childish synonyms for various items, with trains called ‘chugga chuggas’ and saddles referred to as “sit-tights’. I’m not sure which demographic Biomutant is aimed at, as anyone over 12 will probably wretch as the cutesy tone, while younger players could feel overwhelmed by the various RPG systems in play.
Biomutant also features a morality system and branching story paths, although these aren’t as impactful as I’d have liked. The morality system is binary to such an extent that you have an angel and devil sitting on your shoulders to commentate on your decisions, making it a simplistic tussle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ rather than facing you with morally-divisive dilemmas. While your actions will determine the final cutscene and alter the odd dialogue line from characters, they seemingly still have a minimal impact on the story overall, although will help you to unlock certain psionic powers.
While there isn’t much substance to Biomutant’s story, it has plenty of style. The cartoonish visuals are one of Biomutant’s greatest strengths, with the protagonist’s individual strands of hair visibly blowing in the wind, and the many weather effects – from rain storms to snowy blizzards – doing an excellent job of creating an immersive atmosphere. It’s a lovely looking game.
- Combat is fun, with lots of weapons and mutant powers
- Boss battles are a highlight thanks to wacky vehicles
- Little incentive for exploration with generic loot
Biomutant offers the player a large number of options for combat by adopting multiple open-world RPG mechanics. You can upgrade melee weapons and guns with loot, or focus more on unlocking psionic powers so you can hurl lightning balls at foes or even freeze them in place with an icy blast.
And since you’re shorter than most enemies you face, you’re afforded a great deal of mobility. You can comfortably jump and dodge most projectiles, making you feel like a super-powered ninja. There’s even a combo-move system in play, with on-screen prompts helping those with poor memories to execute some stylish attacks with ease. However, I feel they may be a tad too complex for young children, who are seemingly Biomutant’s target audience.
Unfortunately, there’s a small variety of enemy types, with most encounters involving large brutes with powerful melee attacks and smaller foes equipped with pistols, snipers or assault rifles. This meant that the best tactic for combat was almost always moving side to side while unleashing a flurry of bullets, especially since you have unlimited ammunition. This made enemy encounters feel easy and repetitive for the most part.
But the most infuriating aspect of combat is the mid-battle health restoration of enemies who are lured too far away from their starting territory. There were many occasions where I came close to downing a giant grunt, only for them to start casually walking away with a replenished health bar. It happened so frequently that I actively avoided combat encounters in the latter half of the game.
The five boss battles were more enjoyable to fight against, as you’re put at the helm of various nutty vehicles – from a Titanfall-esque exosuit to a squid-shaped submarine – to help you take down the colossal villains. I wish I was afforded more time in these vehicles, as they helped to vary up the combat rather than following well-trodden open-world trends.
There’s also a secondary main objective in Biomutant, which involves helping your allied tribe conquer all of the other settlements spread across the map. But these conquests just involve fighting off numerous waves of generic enemy grunts with few twists to the formula. You’re at least rewarded with a unique weapon after conquering each tribe, but I personally preferred using my own crafted guns, making such efforts feel redundant.
Biomutant encourages exploration by hiding loot in desolate towns, abandoned factories and grimy sewers. However, most of the loot I uncovered was unfortunately generic with underwhelming stats – I can’t count how many woolly hats I uncovered.
The very best loot is often located within hazardous environments that require you to equip the necessary gear to explore without taking damage. However, I rarely felt the loot on offer was enough of an incentive to venture off the beaten track and delay my main objectives. It doesn’t help that Biomutant’s map feels empty and sparse, which is admittedly expected for a post-apocalyptic world, but still nevertheless a disappointment.
I was, however, impressed with Biomutant’s performance. I encountered a couple of glitches throughout my playthrough, such as occasionally being unable to mount my rideable companion. But there was no sign of any game-breaking bugs to ruin the immersion, which is rare for an open-world game at launch.
I did notice a few framerate dips despite using a Radeon RX 6800 GPU, but this was mostly after fast travelling which is more understandable. Loading speeds were also very quick, although this will largely depend on your own hardware.
Biomutant is a charming third-person adventure set in a gorgeous world with a post-apocalyptic twist. However, by embracing numerous RPG tropes and rarely excelling at one particular mechanic, Biomutant will likely feel hollow and generic to anyone who’s played the likes of Breath of the Wild or any other modern open-world game.
Combat is a highlight with so many craftable weapons and unlockable power-ups providing a huge arsenal, but the low number of enemy variations meant I was never really pushed to stray from the simple run-and-gun tactic. This isn’t helped by the low difficulty level, especially for puzzles which feel more of a hassle than a satisfying brain teaser.
With so many zany characters here, Biomutant’s strength should have lied in the story. Unfortunately, the overbearing narrator takes the focus away from the many furry-haired personalities, turning dialogue and cutscenes into a tedious chore. The childish tone and gentle difficulty curve will also likely put off older players, limiting the appeal to young children looking to play their very first open-world adventure.
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Should you buy it?
You’re looking for a game for a child
With a storybook charm and a gentle difficulty curve, Biomutant is best played by children who want to try out the open-world genre for the first time.
You’re looking for an innovative open-world RPG
While the combat and crafting system are both good fun, there isn’t really anything here that hasn’t been done before. If you’ve played any other modern open-world RPG, you’ve probably seen it all before.
Biomutant is a charming open-world RPG that is blatantly aimed at children, with a low difficulty level and overly cutesy tone likely putting off older gamers. Combat is fun with a large range of craftable weapons and mutant powers at your disposal, but boring puzzles and a barebones story means there isn’t much else here to keep you captivated.
You can alter the frequency of the narrator in the settings, but you can’t turn it off completely as it’s required for dialogue.
You can play the PS4 version on the PS5, but the PS5 upgrade won’t launch until later this year.
This is essentially the Collector’s Edition, featuring extras such as a soundtrack, mousepad, figurine and t-shirt.