Biomutant review: Wung-Fu warriors

Experiment 101 and THQ Nordic's Biomutant looks to deliver a truly unique open-world RPG.

11

Nearly four years after it was first announced, and about six years since it first went into development, Biomutant is finally being released. The debut title from developer Experiment 101, this open-world RPG is set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with some gnarly looking creatures. While it’s certainly an enjoyable time, there are some ideas that don’t come to fruition in Biomutant.

A furry-ous hero

In Biomutant, players take on the role of a small furry creature, who is destined to be the hero of this post-apocalyptic world. The game’s character creator is pretty extensive, as players select their breed and choose their base stat spread. Something neat about the character creation progress is that the base attributes that players choose will impact their character’s physical appearance. For example, increasing your intellect will literally give you a bigger head.

There’s a variety of classes in the game, which allow players to specialize in different gameplay styles, whether that be the sharpshooting abilities of the Dead-Eye, or the magical powers harnessed by the Psi-Freak. Although players do indeed align themselves with a class at the beginning of the game, your choice isn’t set in stone. In fact, the class you select is more of a way to get players started on a desired path. You’re free to upgrade and pursue a playstyle in any of the different classes in Biomutant, regardless of what you choose at the start.

To save or destroy the world

The main story in Biomutant revolves around the Tree of Life, which appropriately gives life to the world inhabited by our protagonist. After it’s put in jeopardy by an oil spill as well as deadly creatures known as World Eaters looking to consume its roots, the player will find themselves caught in the middle of a fight for the future of the entire world. There are six tribes that players will encounter, each with their own motives in relation to The Tree of Life. Half of the tribes seek to destroy the World Eaters and save the tree, while the other half look to aid the creatures in destroying it, as they believe the world needs to be cleansed so civilization can start from scratch.

Players will have the option to align themselves with one of the factions present in Biomutant. Siding with one of the light side factions will set the player’s end goal to saving The Tree of Life, while siding with a dark faction will set the goal to destroying the tree. This is where Aura comes in, the game’s constantly evolving moral scale.

The decisions players make will directly impact their Aura, either adding more to the light or dark side. Though the whole binary dynamic of good vs bad is something that RPGs have moved on from, it works for Biomutant’s Fable-inspired style.

As an RPG, I really like how the branching pathways and Aura shape Biomutant. The way you choose to play is clearly reflected in the world, whether that be allying with and uniting each of the tribes, or striking down all of those who stand in your way. It invites replayability, and makes me eager to see how my journey contrasted from my friends and colleagues.

Mythical Kung-Fu

With a wide variety of ways to approach Biomutant from a narrative standpoint, there’s also a lot of ways to approach combat. Melee weapons, guns, and psychic abilities are among the many ways players can take down the array of vicious creatures the game will throw at them. The game’s real-time combat system allows you to adjust on the fly and quickly swap between weapons. I found myself tagging up enemies from a distance with my revolvers, leaping into close-range action to quickly deal some melee damage with my twin sais.

Combat in Biomutant is incredibly frenetic, as I was constantly on the move whenever I was in a fight. In addition to dashing and leaping, the game also gives you a double jump that will briefly slow down time. It’s these elements that make combat feel like something from a martial arts film.

Players can also acquire and upgrade perks and mutations to their character, in addition to the game’s base attributes. The way the different categories are laid out in the menu felt needlessly intricate, as I was constantly flipping between pages and entering/exiting menus when I wanted to upgrade my Wung-Fu or check out the available mutations.

Biomutant’s crafting feature is pretty robust, as players can take the parts they find and match them together to make weapons as well as gear. You can use this to put a rusty handle on your blade, or give your armor that extra flair. It’s not all cosmetic, as parts will also apply statistical bonuses to weapons and armor.

Exploring the apocalypse

Though Biomutant is set in a post-apocalyptic world on the brink of another disaster, the environments are still full of color and brimming with energy. It’s refreshing to have a game of this nature that isn’t visually dreary and flushed out. The game is gorgeous, and the use of camera focus makes every battle feel cinematic. That said, it’s a bit of a shame that the world itself can feel boring at times.

The world in Biomutant is fairly large, with unique regions to discover and explore. However, the game suffers a bit from open-world syndrome, where a lot of areas between the points of interest don’t feel all that interesting. Sure, there are minibosses to take down, as well as loot and collectibles to find, but most of my time in the open-world was spent getting from point A to B. I wish there was more meat to the exploration aspect of Biomutant.

Fabled fighters

Biomutant is a solid debut from Experiment 101. Though a couple of the game’s concepts don’t feel entirely fleshed out, there’s still a lot to appreciate. The amount of variety in both the narrative and in combat ensures that no two players have an identical experience. With a fluid combat system and enough style to spare, Biomutant is still a formidable RPG.


This review is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. Biomutant releases on May 25, 2021 for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC for USD $59.99.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Biomutant
8
Pros
  • Branching pathways drastically shape the world and story
  • Combat is fast-paced and exciting
  • Gorgeous visuals and vibrant art style
Cons
  • Open-world feels dull at times
  • Perks and upgrades menus feel unnecessarily complex
From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 24, 2021 8:00 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Biomutant review: Wung-Fu warriors

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 8:33 AM

        Biomehtant

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 8:36 AM

        too much menu based gameplay. What is it with open worlds games and menus

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 9:24 AM

        I didn't think it looked that good from gameplay videos but was willing to see if the reviews were good... I think I'll be waiting on this one. Ask me tomorrow though as I'll probably be weak as fuck and just get it anyway.

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 9:27 AM

        Damn, looks like the extra development time didn't save it... DAMNIT!!!!!!

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 9:58 AM

        I gotta say this never looked all that interesting to me. *shrug*

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 10:02 AM

        I've been watching streamers play it today and it looks pretty fun! I preordered it. I feel like I will enjoy it.

        • reply
          May 24, 2021 10:02 AM

          Looks very GW2 style combat sorta, or Wildstar, which I loved both.

          • reply
            May 24, 2021 11:21 AM

            holy shit.....i memba Wildstar 0_0

            • reply
              May 24, 2021 11:35 AM

              Dude, I loved WildStar. I was totally into it. My friends couldn't get into it though and went back to other things like WoW. I tried to keep playing as long as I could, but it eventually died. Wish it was still around as F2P but it's gone. :(

              • reply
                May 24, 2021 11:48 AM

                I didn't enjoy it. The grind that was sold to get back to old school WoW days just wasn't worth it in my late 20s or early 30s (I don't recall release date). I thought I wanted it, but I didn't.

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 10:03 AM

        Knockout City is scoring higher on OpenCritic?! Not going to lie but I was having fun playing KOC, haha! Was looking forward to this game....i'll grab it first sale now.

        • reply
          May 24, 2021 10:26 AM

          I played a few hours of Knockout City and then immediately got the full version as I know I'm playing this longer.

          Only problem is I have no friends to play with and nobody uses voicecomms :(

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 10:09 AM

        Yea, I really wanted another open world game to play but every single video I watch the combat just looks really samey and boring, and it looks like that's most of what you do in the game

        Bleh

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 10:35 AM

        it included with EA play pro

        does anyone have that service?

        • reply
          May 24, 2021 11:09 AM

          Nope, but that means in about a year it will come to regular EA Play right? Which means Game Pass!

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 11:04 AM

        Skill Up: "Biomutant is very very not good."
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwMmTtgLMBI

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 11:06 AM

        with Ratchet coming out soon, I only really have room for one furry game...

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 11:09 AM

        I feel like the marketing for this game went nuts in the past month. I went from never having heard of it, to seeing "random people" talking about it on Reddit quite frequently, to Conan O'Brien doing a Clueless Gamer segment. It looks cool but I think people are just really thirsty for a new quality IP.

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 11:10 AM

        Why does every video I see look like it was a 3rd party capture.. everything is fuzzy and too much contrast

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 11:22 AM

        Conan seemed like he thought it was dumb

        • reply
          May 24, 2021 12:12 PM

          Yeah, he was more impressed with JB Smoove's gaming skills than anything else.

        • reply
          May 24, 2021 6:03 PM

          Conan is not impressed with "Gaming" at all.

      • reply
        May 24, 2021 11:34 AM

        Boo. ACG has it as mixed as well. It sounds like they were very ambitious and just didn't land it fully.

        acg https://youtu.be/rAokCeWqYYY

    • reply
      May 24, 2021 8:16 AM

      Hmmm

    • reply
      May 24, 2021 8:26 AM

      PC Gamer didn't like it very much
      https://www.pcgamer.com/biomutant-review/

Hello, Meet Lola