Tuesday, July 19, 2022


Biomutant cover art.jpg

After Earth, But Good

Depending upon how players define the term, open-world videogames can possibly date back to the 1970s, given the existence of titles with limited boundaries, nonlinear gameplay, and no concrete goals, although developers wouldn’t elaborate on the concept until games became more complex in the ‘80s, with early RPGs such as the first Ultima trilogy being possible examples. The turn of the millennium would see the idea expand even more, with non-RPG cases such as the commercially-successful Grand Theft Auto III. Games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild many critics deemed “revolutionary” for open-world games, and other companies would attempt to rival it, among them being Biomutant.

The game begins in a post-eco-disaster world inhabited by anthro mutant characters, the player customizing a protagonist when starting a new game. Regardless of whatever form they take, they have excellent backstory largely revealed in the initial hours of the game, and the Green Aesop narrative never feels ham-fisted. The storytelling style is also interesting, with the characters speaking in squeaks and grunts, the player’s Automaton translating the gibberish dialogue, although given the wait times between the babbling and the translations, the plot slightly feels forced down the player’s throat. There are also some grammatical errors in the dialogue, but generally, the plot helps the game far more than hurts.

Luckily, solid gameplay backs the narrative, with the player’s character able to battle enemies with melee, ranged weapons, or a combination of both. Players receive different kinds of skill points when leveling that can unlock “magical” abilities or physical skills that necessitate a combination of different button presses. New weapons the player can craft from various base materials, with equipment upgradeable as well, and there are plenty of goodies obtainable from the sidequests, which generally have good direction and are trackable in-game. Different difficulty settings accommodate players of different skill levels, and aside from a few annoying enemies, including one of the four “World Eaters” they must defeat to advance the plot, and long loading times if the player’s character dies, the gameplay is far from tortuous.

Control, however, is the weakest aspect of Biomutant. While akin to most Western RPGs the game is fairly liberal about when and where the player can record their progress (aside from during missions involving the seizure of rival tribes’ outposts), and the direction on how to advance sidequests and the main plot is largely clear (except for maybe one or two instances), the aforementioned long loading times abound, along with the lack of a minimap and occasional irritating level design. Regardless, this area could have definitely been far worse, and has plenty redeeming aspects.

Western RPGs in my experience tend not to have memorable soundtracks like their Japanese counterparts, and Biomutant is no exception, largely reliant upon ambience, although there is occasional music that sounds decent, the sound effects are good, the gibberish is mildly-adorable, and the constant narration from the Automaton is perhaps the aural high point.

The visuals two have many things going for them such as the customizable appearance for the player’s character, the vibrant colors, the good environments, diversity in character models, and the main character’s appearance changing with different equipment. However, there is a great deal of environment popup, dithering, and blurry/pixilated texturing when viewed up close, although the game is definitely far from an eyesore.

Finally, a straightforward playthrough can take anywhere from twenty-four to forty-eight hours, although there are plenty things to extend playtime such as the myriad of sidequests, a New Game+, and PlayStation Trophies, but the annoyance of one particular boss fight may mildly deter supplemental temporal investment.

Overall, Biomutant is definitely a more-than-serviceable open-world RPG with solid gameplay, the always-welcome ability to record one’s progress most anywhere, a decent environmental-themed narrative, good voice acting coherent and gibberish, nice graphical presentation. It does, however, have issues with regards to its long loading times, unmemorable music, and visual hiccups, although the game is another instance where I vastly disagree with mainstream videogame critics, and I actually preferred playing it to the ballyhooed Breath of the Wild, and in my humble opinion, Biomutant is sure to scratch both those open-world game and anthropomorph-centric RPG itches.

This review is based on a playthrough of a physical copy purchased by the reviewer to the standard ending.

The Good:
+Great open-world gameplay.
+Save (mostly) anywhere feature.
+Good audiovisual presentation.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Long loading times.
-Story a bit derivative.
-Soundtrack unmemorable.
-Some visual imperfections.

The Bottom Line:
A great open-world Western RPG.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 4
Game Mechanics: 9.0/10
Controls: 7.0/10
Story: 8.5/10
Music/Sound: 8.0/10
Graphics: 7.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 24-48 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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