Review | Biomutant
"What is common about fluffy rats and the game with a few technical issues? I don't find cute either of these, especially when they mutate!"
by Foggy, 01-06-2021, Edited by: Jim
What can possibly go wrong when a developer named Experiment 101 takes matters into their own hands and does what they call themselves (an experiment), and THQ Nordic gets behind it? A lot, especially since we remember the previous Darksiders under THQ which had some serious problems (but I still consider them as solid games).
What’s different here is the development team themselves: a handful of people who have been working faithfully and dedicatedly since 2017. on a rat-mammal-mutant who will find itself in yet another open-world RPG game. The result can be everything, or maybe "nothing" is what awaits you. I would say we found ourselves somewhere in the middle and a little further towards that positive side. Additionally, luck flickers in certain segments of the game, but a lot of it should be also mentioned as a minus. Let's embark together on a mutated adventure called Biomutant - a post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable!
The beginning is promising, but you will already "feel" the problems in the fight itself.
I note this game back when it was announced. I was also skeptical when the information fell silent, when it was stated that the bug situation was problematic and that the game would not even come out. But they succeeded, this small team of people of only twenty-ish employees did a wonderful job. You have to keep in mind that this is an AA game, otherwise you might be disappointed. It is interesting that everyone is in charge of everything in Experiment 101, there is no clear leadership and this is the product of a freedom of choice (maybe that is why they carry that name).
A post-apocalyptic kung fu fable sounds like something I would play right away. At least I think so. They hooked me with the last couple of trailers, I fell in love with this world that looked alive, full of greenery, even though it is a polluted world where races have mutated and where the world vibrates in terror of huge beasts that want to eat it - we call them Worldeaters. They are huge mutant beasts that want to eat the only thing that keeps this planet alive - the Tree of Life. The tree has taken root on all sides and you guessed it - on each side a beast is slowly nibbling on its life, which is why every glimmer of hope for a better tomorrow disappears. Don't worry, you are a cute little mutant mammal (from heart - a rat) that will opose this black destiny.
Dual Wield, Telekinesis, Dead-Eye. I didn’t go too high on intelligence, but I'm good with a sword and a gun. The initial selection is easy to "refine" in all directions later, so don't worry too much about what you're choosing at start.
In terms of performance, I played the PS5 version and unfortunately, it’s not the best version of the game you can try. Recently, patch 2.01 "removed" 4K support due to technical issues. All you can get is "stretched" dynamic 1080p on which you will see all these problems. Sadly, because at the same time the new Xbox console does not have them. As the loading times aren’t any much better (faster) on the new consoles either, it’s clear that this is a game made for the last generation and the question is whether any next-gen patches will come in the future. I think the first move is definitely to fix the PS5 version.
The following platforms and performances are supported: Windows (4K / 60 FPS), PlayStation 4 ("regular" version in dynamic 1080p and 30 FPS, PRO in dynamic 1080p and 30 FPS), Xbox One ("regular" version in dynamic 1080p and 30 FPS, X in dynamic 1080p and 30 FPS), PlayStation 5 (dynamic 1080p and 60 FPS), Xbox Series X / S (only in 60 FPS and 4K).
Although the PS5 comes with support for 60 FPS, take it with a huge dose of caution - there are too many drops, the frame rate is very unstable. Turn the camera around while exploring the more open part of the map, or even running through linear cramped spaces has the same effect. Fast movement opens up a pop-in problem, meaning that drawings of the environment and objects in the distance are visible to the eye (even in the immediate vicinity, very often). Fast-travel and loading times are not at the level of the new generation, at least on the PS5.
Ma', I'm pretty, right?
You start with character creation. I liked it, mostly because it is special. The more you elevate certain attributes, the more you deform your mammal. Eventually I stoipped somewhere around the middle because I didn’t want to look like a deformed, hairy barrel. With some face color, class and a few little things, everything is ready. Classes are more makeup than some benefit, although some are better for managing a variety of firearms and come with better weapons, a few extra perks, but aren’t exactly a lot different. Also, they don’t affect the story and the direction you’re going to tailor there, so don’t worry too much about what you’re going to develop into. There are five classes, and an extra class came as an add-on if you pre-ordered the game. Fun fact - those who are, due to the bug can not get that class, and THQ is still trying to solve the problem.
As a kid he met Melvis (Elvis the mutant), and as a big guy… See for yourself. The story provides a dose of childhood and part of how you started, what you went through, and of course, how you learned the secrets of Wung-fu!
My biggest problem with this game is perhaps its presentation, and then the story. I generally have very little or no connection with the character you create yourself. Such protagonists often do not gain in depth, without the vocal abilities and generics that can follow through the game simply do not remain in my memory. This is exactly the case here, and even worse - additionaly, all the mutated mammals you meet have no personality, no "weight".
Like most open world games, you start from one point and discover a million others, connected, and those less connected to the course of the story. You will quickly learn the fate of a post-apocalypse, meet strange allies and try to connect what it is all about. It may be a little strange that the game offers you a lot in a short period of time. It was definitely for me, I had a hard time remembering what I could do and what was on offer. You learn very quickly that even the little life that exists is already pursuing its own policy. Tribe A and Tribe B are different because one side wants to defeat the Worldeaters, while the other want them to eat this world so it will be a better place. I don't understand exactly how, because if they eat everything, what will be better and to whom?
I’m just surprised how beautiful some parts and landscapes look. The world embedded in nature and nuclear waste really knows how to surprise. Too bad the PS5 doesn’t "push" native 4K.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
This is where the "darkness-light" of your choices begins. You can side with the dark side and play the mutated Darth Vader, or be a role model to all the rats in the galaxy. It has absolutely no matter which side you go to, all what you will experience differently is a small part of the story related to a particular tribe, and some perk related to certain attributes (for example, 10 dark points opens Telekinesis, really superb perk). You can easily turn it all around later and the story gives you that kind of freedom of choice, but don’t expect some spectacle. A lot of dialogue also gives similar options, but it’s so irrelevant what you’re going to say and with a really mediocre story and characters you certainly won’t want to explore this part of the game further.
Biomutant is a short game. I’m sure if you just "attack" the story you’re done in 10-12h. And that is perhaps the worst part, because it all comes down to "find", "help", "defeat". The recipe is constantly the same and the main story is perhaps really games weakest segment. Too bad, I expected a lot more. Secondary content can easily pull you over 50 hours of play, but I believe that only a few will get there. 20-25h will be some approximate duration with a sufficient dose of research.
The concept is such that the narrator is constantly talking about the parts you are researching. You can reduce its frequency in the options. He is immediately a translator of all races, all you will hear from them are squeaky voices in a language no one understands. After each beep the narrator translates what someone said. At first it was cool, later I got tired of it and I started skipping conversations, they were just boring and pointless, no matter how cool the goal was (helping an alcoholic to keep drinking, and then beating him = priceless), I just can't remember almost a single character of this game.
Platforming is really minimal, some parts are a bit "clunky", but overall it is somewhat fluid and fast (climbing is really fast). Fights are fun, but somehow boring, even with all of the offered arsenal of weapons and some combination of moves. Double jump is always a plus.
The best part of this bad side of the game (of the main story) were tribe camps and boss fights. Occupy the camp, help one race, slaughter the poor plushy guards… All together it was relatively dynamic. The game really tries to offer a variety of challenges and thus give meaning to its open world. I appreciate that, I appreciate that a small team of people made more content than that in some AAA games of this type. Too bad it’s not better connected with the story, the best you’ll experience when you let go of the main part and go your own way to explore.
Exploring is good. The world is solidly done, it can be interesting, but don't expect much interaction. It mostly comes down to exploring individual locations, be they underground or part of an abandoned village. Side-content and additional side-character stories you may encounter was for me two classes above the main quests. It will take you to completely remote places, make you explore that world and see that not everything is the same. You will see that there is a lot that you would not otherwise experience if you just followed the game where it takes you. I’m sorry that even if you get into all of this, it doesn’t make much sense. The prizes are numerous, but the dynamics of the game at Normal difficulty are not "tense". I guarantee you can finish the game without any weapon and armor upgrades. And worst of all, the game has a good and interesting crafting system…
An All-around mammol
You find a piece of wood. Upgrade it with a metal bar. Add the grip. Insert the spring and here is your weapon. Really, the crafting system is great. You can combine so, it's just wonderful. And yet, you don't need it at all. All you need is one weapon and a good gun. I think I have more than 1000 items in my inventory. Of that number, I used maybe 10.
And then what is the point of exploring and opening huge hidden boxes and digging in the mud? The game is poorly balanced and it is felt at every step. As you evolve, so does the world, but don’t expect that if you are level 10 you will go back to the beginning and be in charge. You will not, the enemies are getting stronger as well. Sometimes they are strong enough to kill you in 3 moves. And at the same time you can also do that to them. I think there is still a lot of work to be done, it didn't sit well with me, in the later hours I avoided fighting and ran away from my opponents, I just got bored.
I just had to - Heavy metal \ m /
The story comes with various means of transport / lethal means that are your only way through Worldeaters, and for everything else, there are various modifications and several types of weapons (although we can generally divide them into close-combat and ranged weapons).
OK, let’s say we prepared the strongest piece of metal and drowned it in the fire. Dual Sword, One-Hand blade, metal close-combat fists… The choice is yours. Melee combat is pretty sloppy, I often didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t fully understand why so often everything gets slowed down and then I hit the air for about 12 seconds. You will already understand that in the tutorial itself, all these problems immediately surface. It’s not fluid, it just isn’t fluid enough and I’ve often keep hitting someone without anything happening. Too bad, because the idea is like a comic, and you will often see various captions like: "KPOW", and those similar to those you see in comics. It seems to me that there is a lot of work to be done to correct this. I would best describe a close fight as an "attempt" like in Batman games, where you jump around with a dodge and a combo (that also serves no purpose here).
On the other hand, I enjoyed the fight using guns, they are juicier but also too strong. I went through most of the game using the strongest gun I could find next to some main quest. Too bad. Too bad when you develop Wung-fu skills and expect some madness and not much happens. Using magic is cool, but I’m not the type for magic. Super wung-fu, on the other hand, is a special special attack lasting a few seconds that will make you a real terminator-fu master as you pound on them with lightning speed. Just be aware, while this mode is active expect a lot of problems and weird movements, I was in the wall more than where I was supposed to be.
The problem is also the AI of the opponents, which is anything but worthy of mention. Sometimes you will run into a fight while they are fighting each other, but as soon as you attack a certain specie, everyone from that specie will immediately be against you, but, say, you walk neatly in front of them and they will just ignore you. I welcome the diversity of opponents, both large and small. By the end of the game, there’s a lot of variety, and my personal highlight are the mutants in pajamas.
I was so excited about the mutants in pajamas! Boss fights are actually quite simple, but it’s interesting to see them huge.
I don't want to overwhelm you with details, the game really has a lot of content, but I would be happier if it was less and if it was of better quality (I'm mostly saying in terms of the main story). The puzzles that await you can be cool, but they are very basic. They repeat later and sometimes you get a combination that you can’t put together within 10 moves. I repeat, for a small team of people, this number of side-quests, weapons, parts… It’s really impressive, and the exploration can be kind of enjoyable. Travel through the night, through bio-poison, heat, radiation… All this is the charm of this game, the feeling is just as you expect from a game where there is poison at every turn.
For RPG elements I don’t have much to say other than that it’s basic. Perks, which you unlock to expand your arsenal a bit, are scarce, quite scanty and I would say - irrelevant. That one point that you will score in Vitality will not help you at all.
At the end of the day I am both happy with the game and I am not. I am because the exploration was really cool, the locations and nature I came across had their charms, the opponents in pajamas are a total win. I’m not because the story doesn’t work well, the characters are poorly characterized, the narration a bit boring. I am because who wouldn’t want to be a mutant-rat-mammal-wung-fu-master in a world where nuclear power plants are more common than bakeries. I was not because of the technical issues of the implementation and fluidity/smoothness is lacking.
I think it's best to wait for the game to be polished a bit more, although I personally haven't had much problems (a single crash occurred). Resolution is really an issue, so that’s the main reason. Some parts look wonderful, some like it’s a PS3 game. You have to keep in mind that this is a game of the early last generation, cute in its own way, but with a lot of problems that quickly surface.
I'm not sorry for the 30 hours spent, I'm glad that the game still managed to see the light of day. I think the power lies behind the love these developers certainly have. With a little encouragement and more people, they can do a lot better, and I think because of the wider audience, unfortunately, they have to do better.
If I ever mutate, take my word for it - I will dress in tiger pajamas.