TL;DR: BIOMUTANT is a gorgeously fun action/adventure game that's easy to pick up and play. The only real drawback is the lack of exploration which limits its appeal.
One soft trait of a good game is that you want to keep playing it after the ‘Oh wow’ factor has worn off. Gorgeous graphics, smooth animations, and lush open environments – all the features that made you drool when seeing early shots of the game, get less exciting as you play more and more of it. A good game obviously, is the kind that keeps you coming back for more.
I think it’s safe to say that BIOMUTANT from developer Experiment 101 almost passes this anecdotal test. I say *almost* because while it has all the features to make it a great game, there are some nagging issues that prevent it from reaching that milestone. As of writing this review, I’ve had almost a week of playtime with it and the bits and pieces of the gameplay are still fresh in my mind. BIOMUTANT’s appeal is not just in the graphics, but in its rich and satisfying experience as a wickedly fun third-person adventure.
It’s exhilarating and frightening at the same time and even M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t have written a better dramatic script.
Not just kid stuff any more
The story starts as an apocalypse lay waste to the planet. Mankind, the most dominant species, has taken refuge towards the heavens leaving the remaining creatures as top predators on the hierarchy chain. You take on the role of a Raccoon looking to save the Tree of Life, a life force that brings balance to the world but is now in danger of being destroyed. You embark on an epic adventure through underground caverns, murky swamps, and hostile jungles with hopes of bringing peace and tranquility back to the land.
As a raccoon, you have the inherited abilities of ridiculous long jumps and blazing speed when running on all four limbs. What gives the game its added kick, however, is the number of weapons you can upgrade and points you can increase your mutation powers with. You’ll need these updated skills to improve your overall dexterity so that you can take on the higher level mobs the further into the game you get.
By limiting your weapons in the opening few levels the developers have done a great job of taxing the player’s imagination and heightening the tension. At one point, you find yourself trapped between the side of a mountain with a humungous boss intent on making you roadkill. With limited ammo, limited terrain, and nowhere else to go, you end up fighting the boss by effectively dodging his attacks and swiping at him until he finally succumbs to your sword. It’s exhilarating and frightening at the same time and even M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t have written a better dramatic script.
BIOMUTANT might not be the end-all-be-all we’ve waited for, but it still delivers a great gaming experience.
Unleash the beast
While BIOMUTANT excels in so many areas, it cannot spare itself from several of its most annoying features: one being the lack of true exploration. You see, every important item you need to find or pathway you’ll need to take is pretty much handed to you either through narration or visual cues, which makes exploring almost a moot point. I understand the need the need to help guide the player along, but this feels much more like hand-holding which breaks much of the immersion.
Secondly, the narration, while pleasing and helpful in the early levels, becomes repetitive and annoying once you’ve heard it for the hundredth time. But these minor hitches only stand out because the rest of the game is so damn good. The colorful assortment of enemies, obstacles, and puzzles keep the gameplay fresh and exciting and will offer players plenty of action. BIOMUTANT might not be the end-all-be-all we’ve waited for, but it still delivers a great gaming experience.