Players will be able to step into a vibrant and colorful anthropomorphic world with Experiment 101 and THQ Nordic’s open world kung-fu inspired adventure Biomutant. Moving away from the more traditional post-apocalyptic scenario, Biomutant features a world rid of all human life and civilization. In its place, a collection of furry critters are looking to make their mark on the world.
The Toxanol Corporation, the games representation of human greed and disregard, was responsible for a cataclysmic event that saw the world thrown into turmoil. Drilling into the planet’s crust and polluting the world’s oceans, mankind has pushed nature to its limit and it broke – at least at first.
It’s not too often that you get to experience a post-apocalyptic world that’s filled to the brim with vibrancy and color. While the initial introduction of the story represents a very real and very dark potential future for mankind, that gloom and dread is quickly replaced as you’re introduced to The New World. This world is in blossom, and creatures of all shapes and sizes inhabit the lands. For the most part, life is good.
That is until you learn of the Tree of Life, the source of all power and life in The New World. It’s under threat by radiated creatures that were mutated and evolved after the Toxanol Corporation polluted the world. Cue the player, which is tasked with creating a custom anthropomorphic creature, choosing a class, and embarking on a journey to save the world.
Immediately, mere seconds into the game, the expectations of a post-apocalyptic world are thrown aside as a gorgeously bright world unfolds at your feet. Biomutant features a massive game world that is available to explore in its entirety just after the introduction. Of course, there’s remnants of human civilization like wrecked huts in the woods and sprawling towns reduced to rubble. However, this is nature’s world, and it was reclaimed many moons ago.
This is Biomutant’s biggest innovation: its setting. The New World embodies the post-apocalyptic environment perfectly, but gives it enough unique charm and character to present a new frontier to explore, free from the regular tropes of the setting. The most intriguing aspect of the world is its characters, made up of small creatures and critters of all sorts of varieties. Some have settled into region and formed tribes, others roam the world as merchants, and some have become mutated and terrorize entire regions.
Unfortunately, Biomutant’s efforts to reinvigorate the post-apocalyptic setting doesn’t quite manage to do the same with the open world formula. You’ll be running around taking outposts and strongholds from enemy tribes, doing basic fetch quests, and conquering regions. It’s a very familiar design in an unfamiliar world, which is just about enough to forget you’ve trodden this path before.
Helping alleviate the repetition of the open world mechanics as a kung-fu inspired combat system that sees a small furry creature floating and flipping around enemies like a scene from The Matrix. There’s a huge variety of weapons to experiment with – both melee and firearms – each with different strength and weaknesses and an impressive list of different combination attacks. As you’re swinging, slashing, and shooting you way through, carefully placed prompts appear to help you flesh out the final few buttons in a devastating combo attack, which is then thrown up on the screen in a “THWACK” style reminiscent of comic books. All too often in these large, open world settings, the quality and experience of the core gameplay mechanics take a back seat to the scope and wonders of the world. Thankfully, that’s not the case for Biomutant. The combat is great, rewarding, and challenging, and some of the boss encounters are absolutely fantastic.
Further compliments to Biomutant’s combat come in the form of its crafting and gear system. There’s a huge amount of weapons and armor that you can collect, equip, and customize. The crafting, while initially quite shallow, opens to near endless possibilities as you continue to gather different bits and pieces of old world junk that you can combine into a massive sledgehammer that sets foe ablaze with every swing. While on the surface this appears simply a great aspect of its design, the freedom of choice and creativity is integral to the game’s narrative design.
As you take down forts, capture enemies, and net rare insects, you’re often confronted with a choice. The choices and consequences system challenges you to forge your path and direction in a battle of right and wrong, good and evil, even left and right. Many of these choices in themselves have minimal consequence, but as your character continues to battle with the forces of light and dark, the story evolves and characters interact with you in different ways. It culminates in a heartwarming (or heart-wrenching) ending as you experience the consequence of your journey, for better or worse.
Biomutant is a charming entry into the open world space. The anthropomorphic creatures that inhabit its world are easy to love, the excellent narration of the story fills its world with character, and the combat is fluid, fast, and deadly. If you’re a fan of open world games and want to experience a new setting, it’s an easy buy. Just be warned that you’ll instantly recognize many of its gameplay loops, and not in a good way.
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