The end of the world as we know it was just the beginning. A massive company called Toxanol over-polluted the world’s oceans, forcing a mass exodus from Earth. To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm, however, “Life, uh, finds a way”. Anthropomorphic animals took over and thrived in the absence of humans and along with the Tree of Life watching overall, life was good: until it wasn’t. After the death of their spiritual Wung Fu master at the hands of the fearsome predator Lupa-Lupin, the remaining tribes fractured and started warring against each other. The Tree of Life grew ill and began to wither: the cause of it? Four monstrous beasts situated in the four corners of the world began to devour the tree’s roots, slowly making their way to the trunk itself. Enter the Chosen One. You are the son of the slain Wung Fu master. A lone wanderer returned home from the great unknown. The scion of a prophecy that will either restore the Tree of Life to its former glory or bring about the world’s end. This is the premise of BioMutant. Where you go from here is up to you.
In my opinion, BioMutant has a serious Fable vibe to it thanks to a few factors, but especially in regards to its simple good/evil morality choices and light vs. darkness aspect. Your main goal is two-fold: stop the world-eaters and unite the tribes. This is a problem though since half the tribes want the world-eaters to succeed and bring about a cleansing while the others want to stop them. Who you side with is up to you, and helping the tribes earns you their unique weapons and armors as you clear out their outposts and subjugate them. The way you carry yourself will also have consequences. Your Light and Dark sides make up two halves of a whole. Your actions earn you points in either category depending on whether they’re good or evil, and they combine to form your aura. This reflects how people will treat you on a regular basis. While this does all sound like serious business, there is no underlying sense of gravitas. BioMutant maintains a fairly lighthearted feel throughout the entire journey. It helps that the story is delivered by a kindly narrator, who also happens to be your translator since the animals talk in nonsensical languages. I really enjoyed this at first but this style of narration lost its luster hours into the game as I found myself mashing the skip button while the characters were jabbering just so I could save time and get to the actual dialogue. Still, it lends a certain charm to the overall game. As far as most of the dialogue and story go, don’t expect too much out of it. Most of the time any NPC you will talk to spews out hammed-up corny speeches full of poorly-worded philosophical quotes that are almost always something about good, evil, and forgiveness. Combine that with a large dose of Eastern Mysticism and it feels like a B-movie version of Kung-Fu Panda and about half as interesting. I also found some issues with NPCs not reacting to me properly based on my aura. In some examples, the person would act like I was evil with unclear motives when in fact I had maximum light, always sided with good, and only had a few dark points from killing animals.
BioMutant is a 3rd person action-RPG set in a decent-sized open world. And what a world it is! The graphics are gorgeously vibrant, from the lush green grass to the bright blue bodies of water. It is pure eye candy. Of course, the world has been overly polluted so there are some barren wastes, along with overgrown remnants of a broken-down human civilization that turned to ruins after they evacuated the planet. Occasionally you will come across areas that require special suits to traverse since they contain some sort of hazard (radiation, freezing cold, or a lack of oxygen) that triggers a countdown to your death if you tarry too long. It’s a joy to spend time exploring the world since there are many things to find, like resources, loot, sidequests, and more. This is a game best enjoyed at a relaxing pace. Fast travel points help you zip around the world quickly, but only after you find them and your character “marks his territory” all over the flag pole. One of my most favorite things is tracking down the old-world items (like toilets, known as “flush stools” now) and solving the simple rotation puzzles to unlock items. Another cool aspect that I like about the puzzles is that the higher the intellect of your character, the more turns he will get to solve the puzzle without getting zapped.
Despite the world itself being beautiful and varied, there is plenty of repetition to be found in the tribe quests. To conquer a tribe, you must first take control of their three outposts and then storm their fort and defeat their leader, earning their special tribe weapon in the process. By the time I conquered the first two tribes it turned into a mind-numbingly boring process. For starters, each tribe’s outposts have the exact same layout. Each time you attack and take over an outpost and every time you defeat a rival Sifu, you will go through the very same conversations with your allied tribe. Each takeover attempt also follows the same three formats: full-frontal assault, an encounter with the outpost leader where you persuade him to give up without a fight, or some kind of subterfuge where you complete three objectives to conquer the outpost. Then there is the fort. Before you can enter the fort of the enemy leader, you Sifu will ask you to complete some errand related to the assault before it can begin. The predictability of the process makes it feel like you’re just going through the motions. At least later on you have the option to end the tribe conquest earlier and have the remaining tribes surrender to you, but then I believe you’ll be locking yourself out of the related achievements.
At least the combat is enjoyable, though I do have some gripes about the weak lock-on system for the guns. Your character has quite a few options when it comes to dishing out damage. First, we’ll take a look at creating your rad rodent. Each of the six breeds has strength and weaknesses that help determine your character’s basic stats. To further add to that, the next customization process is genetics. There will be a circular diagram displayed with strength, vitality, charisma, intellect, and agility written along the perimeter. You can drag your icon around the attribute circle to choose where you want your beginning stats to be based on. The cool part about this is how your character’s physique will alter to reflect your choices, like making his appearance more muscular the closer you get to the strength area of the circle. After that, you will go through the same style of customization for your genetic resistances. Once you make some cosmetic choices for your fur style and color, you’re almost done; you just need to choose one of five classes. Classes come with a unique set of perks to learn, as well as a special perk and/or ability to start with. For example; Psi-Freak comes with increased Ki regeneration, as well as the ability to shoot Spark Balls. I chose a Saboteur for my playthrough because they can dual-wield one-handed weapons: how can I say no to that? Once your class is chosen, you’re good to go!
No matter what class you chose, they all have more or less access to the same moves and abilities, like parrying and dodging defensively and being able to fluidly go from using a melee weapon to a gun so you can unleash a variety of combos. Once you start leveling up and earning perk points, you’ll be able to unlock special attacks known as Wung-Fu. These are special attacks and combo finishers unique to each weapon category. If you can pull off three separate Wung-Fu attacks in a fight, you can activate Super Wung-Fu mode for a few seconds, giving you access to powerful attacks for a few seconds. For some reason, I had a lot of trouble getting the attacks to register during my playthrough, and then the enemies would be dead by the time I earned it. You can also use perk points to unlock perks (obviously). Besides a general perk set, each class has a unique perk list. There are still more ways of customizing your death-rat, and it comes in the form of Bio points and Psi points. Psi points are hard to earn since you need to do obscure things like find shrines, free captives, or certain dialogue choices. You also need to have a certain level of dark or light aura before you can have the right to unlock certain skills, so it can take a while to learn something useful. My character build has very low intellect anyways so these powers were pretty useless to me. Bio points can be used to upgrade your resistances and also unlock weird abilities. These were pretty fun to use in fights, like the mucus bubble that surrounds you like a shield and allows you to roll over and stick people to it, then explode and send them flying everywhere. When all is said and done, there are quite a few ways to alter your character to your play style.
My last complaint has to do with the crafting and the in-game economy. It is so poorly balanced that it’s embarrassing. For starters, money comes in the form of green leaves. You can sell gear you found to vendors for it, or you can find it in the wilds hanging from a bush. The thing is, after all my scavenging, I only ever ran into four or five of these proverbial “money trees”. I know you could always sell your gear for money but resources for crafting are scarce, and it is much more important that you disassemble whatever you can find. Luckily the vendors never have anything worthwhile for sale. In my entire 20-something hour playthrough I never bought a single item. That leaves scavenging and hoping to get lucky as your best option. I found some great parts and was able to craft a melee weapon so strong that it blew past any of the special Tribal weapons and I ended up using it for the last half of the entire game. I decided to use the rest of my hard-earned resources to upgrade my armor quality, but it quickly used up what I had spent the ENTIRE GAME collecting. Spending hours scavenging items and finding resource totems just for a few measly upgrades is never my idea of fun.
To sum things up succinctly: take your time exploring the beautiful world and questing, don’t worry about the silly story and dialogue. Kick the crap out of a few tribes while you’re at it. I have issues with certain parts of Biomutant but in the end I did have quite a bit of fun!
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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