There are all sorts of post-apocalyptic, open-world games out there. Some are expansive, some are dark and gritty, some are even cute. The new T-rated game Biomutant is … a combination of all three.
The game focuses on a little eye-patch-wearing, anthropomorphized hero who has obviously been living alone on the outskirts of this post-apocalyptic tribal world. We find that he’s been doing so ever since his family was killed many years ago, and he barely slipped away with his life. But now, current dangers have driven him back to society, where he must use his learned skills to start setting some wrongs aright.
There are actually three different Biomutant plotlines that you must work through. For one thing, the previous (human) society had badly polluted everything. And it’s only thanks to a nature-renewing Tree of Life that things are slowly being restored for the now standing-upright-and-conversing animal residents of the world. But there are four giant monsters called Worldeaters that are munching on the roots of that life-giving tree. And they must somehow be stopped.
Manpower is required to reach that goal, however. So someone will need to unite the various animal tribes scattered across the land and rally the needed forces. Once you’ve chosen a tribe with which to unite, it’s your job to reach the other strongholds and either take them down or help them see the wisdom of willingly joining your mission. Lastly, there’s an evil killer named Lupa-Lupin who appears on the scene. And a certain small, eye-patch-wearing hero might just find himself seeking revenge for a horror perpetrated long ago!
Amid these pursuits, there are scores and scores of quests to follow up on; small puzzles to solve; many battles with creatures large and small; and a whole lot of world to explore. The game also offers a very deep crafting and customization system that allow gamers to use found bits and pieces from every niche and corner of the globe to create a very wide variety of pieced-together weapons and armors.
Biomutant incorporates a morality system in the gameplay mix represented by two small angel-like characters. They symbolize light and dark and nudge your moral meter one way or another based on the choices you make in the game. Reactions to tribe members, side-quest interactions and the way you treat small creatures along the way all affect the Aura you carry. In some cases, previous choices may limit places you can go and characters you can interact with.
Ultimately, the game raises questions based on the choices you make, such as the wisdom of choosing revenge over forgiveness or the value of seeking common ground with others instead of going to war with them.
The game world is a colorful place. And Biomutant’s feel is kept light through the use of a British-voiced narrator who interprets the gibberish-like languages of the different characters and injects comments and quips throughout.
Players wade through many battles and skirmishes against genetically mutated creatures and monsters. Characters engage in unarmed combat. They may also employ guns, boomerangs, bows, staffs, clubs and axes, nunchaku, and various hook and chain device, as well as specialized magic-like abilities.
Weapons are often cobbled together from handles, blades and other objects. So, you might end up with a strange-looking sword/chainsaw hybrid or a machine gun made of pipes and a garden tool, for example.
As wicked as some of the razor-edged weapons may look, however, the battles are never gory. There is some light blood spray on occasion. But for the most part, the impact and blasts are demonstrated by color zaps, numbers and screen color changes. Magic and fire blasts are also a part of the sometimes frenetic battles.
In addition to the violent side of things, there are bits of bathroom humor here, too, ranging from oversized monster backsides to vomit. (Your character urinates on sign points with his back to the camera to mark them for fast travel, for instance). Players can also find bar-like areas that include drinking, inebriation and a drinking contest. One character smokes.
The fact is, Biomutant is hard to pin down. Gameplay here can be a bit clunky at times; battles can be frenetic and pointless-feeling; and things can get a little dark.
On the other hand, the visuals are often colorful and inviting; the characters are quirky and cute; the loot-finding and crafting is fun and the game works at staying lighter than its post-apocalyptic setting.
It’s a mixed bag of mutant adventure, to be sure.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.