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Hopping into Biomutant, I was immediately hit with a strange take on the game. On the surface, it looks like a late-2000s tie-in video game to a children’s movie that doesn’t exist, a genre which became extinct in the 2010s. All the visual trappings of the game certainly echoed that idea, as you’re placed in the cute shoes of…whatever the heck this furry martial arts creation is that I whipped up.

But beyond that impression, Biomutant is a game that is built on a lot of ideas, many of which it wears proudly on its adorable little sleeves. It’s a game that has a dense open-world to explore that is filled with all manner of biomes that offer dangerous challenges. It’s an action title that attempts to marry the action of Devil May Cry with the sense of adventure that made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild so memorable.

Biomutant is charming with its goofiness and surprisingly sincere with some of its deeper themes. Do all of those ingredients successfully combine for a tasty interactive treat? Not exactly, but I’ll be the first to admit that Biomutant shows a lot of promise for developer Experiment 101.

So what’s it all about?

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It’s an undetermined point in the future, and the planet is pretty much a mess thanks to humanity’s beef with mother nature. Our species is gone, and in our place are anthropomorphic animals who have inherited a world that is on the brink of yet another extinction event. The tree of life that sustains what little life is left on Earth, is about to be destroyed by the fluffiest of apocalyptic monsters, and it’s up to you to save the day. Or hasten the apocalypse.

What’s fascinating about Biomutant is how it tells its story, as your nameless protagonist let’s an omnipresent narrator do all the world-building heavy lifting. There’s a layer of charm to this approach, which feels like the post-apocalypse if Sir Richard Attenborough was alive to document it. Where the game shines is in the sheer level of customisation available to you, as your little mutant genuinely feels like a one-of-a-kind wasteland dweller.

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You’re able to craft a surprisingly robust number of details before you even set out on your journey, creating an avatar for this world that truly does represent you…which explains how I made this abomination I guess.

The other element worth mentioning here is how Biomutant tells its story, which involves a lot of soul-searching alongside black and white morality choices. The thing is, neither approach is wrong or right. Being a little marsupial dick who executes their greatest foes or choosing to become an unbreakable force for all that is good, are merely paths that you can take. There is some heavy philosophy going on in a game where every character speaks like a drunken Sims character, and the path you choose has more of an impact on the powers and skills you unlock.

And yes, I’ve been going full renegade in my playthrough.

How does it play?

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Imagine this: Big angry panda Hulk, flanked by a dozen smaller hench-dudes. What do you do man, what do you do? If I was a marsupial mutant, I’d crawl into a ball and roll away as far as possible, but in the world of Biomutant you’ve got a few more lethal options in your arsenal. Biomutant’s tale is about around the idea of a hero’s journey, and at first you’re going to defending yourself with basic sword combos and some rat-a-tat-tat gunfire. Basic stuff, but also a core foundation for what the game calls wung-fu.

Every single combat option is viable, but true masters of this martial arts system use everything at their disposal, deftly weaving between melee and ranged attacks while dodging and parrying enemies at the same time. As you start unlocking upgrade points though, you’re throwing in the ability to lob fireballs, psionically dash forward, and a whole lot more into your repertoire, mixing up the action even more with dozens of combos that can be used to unlock your super wung-fu state.

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It’s a brilliant idea, but it doesn’t always gel together that well due to a number of factors. For example the camera can be tricky to get to grips with as it hard locks onto enemies, actually reading the battlefield can be a chore when you’re being constantly hit by surprise attacks, and the game features an inconsistently with action that can only be summed up as being typical Euro-Jank.

Biomutant’s combat is pretty much a rough ride from start to finish, with mastery of its intricate combos, chains, and weapons becoming exceedingly difficult when you face bigger mobs of enemies. There are numerous upgrades of course, and Wung-Fu works brilliantly when certain stars are perfectly aligned, but it certainly not going to give the absolute precision of Devil May Cry a run for its money. Think of it this way: If action-brawlers of this particular genre were martial artists, then Biomutant’s combat would be Jackie Chan. Scrappy, fierce, and making you earn every single victory.

But the game has a surprisingly detailed crafting system to make up for those Wung-Fu shortfalls. Every piece of scrap you find in the world has some part to play in outfitting your mutant to better survive the perils ahead, whether it be crafting a pair of blades for dual-wielding action or slapping together modifiers into an assault rifle to create a fiery death-dealer that mows down enemies like there’s no tomorrow.

I can show you the world

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I’ve got a feeling that Biomutant’s combat may end up being divisive when public discourse begins, but one thing that I truly believe will receive universal acclaim is the actual world that you’ll spend around dozens of hours questing about and exploring. It’s a stunning landscape, one that features a (modest by today’s standard) map sized at around 8×8 km in total. All the hallmarks of a sandbox are here, with numerous locations having wet, dry, and lush zones to explore, mixed with areas that haven’t survived the first apocalypse and have become dens of oxygen-deprived and radioactive wastelands.

Surviving these areas requires growth, skill, and for at least one of them, a big giant robot mech suit to pilot. BIG GIANT ROBOT MECH SUIT FOR LIFE!

These are hauntingly beautiful locales, decorated with the scar tissue of another apocalyptic age and home to various dungeons, dangers, and villages along your way, as well as the six tribes who control the land. Bringing peace or terror to those tribes also forms a major part of the narrative, and it’s up to you either unite or destroy them all as you forge your own legend. Lumen Shrines, Old World Vaults, and Old World Storages can be explored for more epic loot, plenty of puzzles can be solved along the way, and the dapper photo mode is a useful tool for just soaking up all the beauty that the game has to offer.

Plus a monster shoved me up its poop-hole, so that has to count for something.

Last Updated: May 24, 2021

Biomutant
Biomutant juggles a ton of balls at any given time, and while it might not be able to keep all of them in the air, it's still an ambitious open-world adventure that's hard to not fall in love with. Maybe it's coming at the right time as well, as its generally laid-back approach to storytelling, wonderfully silly crafting, and deep character customization more than makes up for the rough combat that could do with some more polish.
8.0
Biomutant was reviewed on Xbox Series X
68 / 100

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