Four years have passed since the very first announcement of Biomutant. Unveiled in August 2017 and then presented at gamescom, the title immediately carved out a slice of fans thanks to the mix it presented. An open world with RPG elements in which we control animals in a world that is on its way to ruin. I candidly admit that I was really fascinated by it, even if I didn't know much more about the titles, only to forget it after some time. The premises, then, did not seem exactly the best.
Development is in the hands of experiment 101, a software house composed of about twenty members co-founded in 2015 by Stefan Ljungqvist, former art director and game director of Avalanche Studios, known for the series Just Cause, which is bought by THQ Nordic in 2017. So, a newly born software house, working on an open-world GDR of which, for years, there has been practically no news. These are the foundation for a great canceled title! The arrival of the pandemic and the resulting global problems had practically convinced me of this idea. Instead, luckily, Experiment 101 made a comeback by announcing the release date of the game and today Biomutant is alive, he is among us and I am finally here to tell you about it.
The world of Biomutant, or what remains of it, has been hit by an incredible wave of pollution caused by a large company, the Toxanol. The extraction of rare earths and nuclear plants produced waste and the landfills were now saturated and it was decided to begin to pour everything into the sea. It was polluted so much and so deeply that the genetic code of the animals changed quickly, thus causing a second evolution and the disappearance of the previous inhabitants of what is called Mondochefù. Now, everything has grown around the great Tree of Life, which is however suffering from some monsters, the World Eaters, which are destroying its roots. Consequently, our job is to save the tree to allow life to continue to bloom. Or not.
These are the simple premises of the history of Biomutant, which is soon joined by another goal. We need to bring together the tribes scattered around the world, a task that the mother of the protagonist, creator of a martial art as well as a real philosophy of life, succeeded in Wung-Fu. The six adepts of the teacher are now the chieftains, each with its tendency towards light or dark. The Ki is another of the elements that permeates the inner world of Biomutant and our actions, represented by our consciousness - divided precisely between the light side and the dark side - in the form of two cute little animals. Whenever we are given the chance to take a choice towards either side, they pop up and start bickering with each other, with often nice results. With this premise I therefore imagined that our choices in one or the other direction would have a great impact on the game world and the rest of the story in front of us. Unfortunately this is not the case.
At the beginning of the game, immediately after the initial tutorial zone, a choice is imposed on the player, namely if save or destroy the Tree of Life based on which tribe you choose to support. As said before, each of them has a more or less marked tendency towards light or darkness and the first two we must necessarily deal with are opposites of the karma system of the game, or Absolute Light or Absolute Darkness. Based on the Sifu that we decide to support changes our final purpose and the path taken. At least, on paper. In fact, I completed the game twice following the two different paths but, apart from some dialogue and the last cut-scene, practically nothing has changed. The thing that bothered me most is that the bad ending… it's not really bad! However, a positive and hopeful meaning is given to our actions and the consequences that derive from them but everything always falls into the discourse between harmony between Light and Darkness, between positive Karma and negative Karma, between black and white, as well as self-determination and the imposition on destiny, which is made up of our choices, all elements at the base of the philosophy of the game.
If we take the right path we can bring the other tribes together so as to make them our allies or subdue them. In case we go the bad way, we can always decide to subdue them or to kill the Sifu enemy and destroy the tribe entirely. In both cases, this system is managed through the conquest of outposts. Fortunately, it is nothing boring or excessively long, it is enough to conquer two outposts and then advance to the assault of the strong enemy. However, this system seemed somewhat sketchy to me, since these phases are almost identical to each other. And forget about the conquest system too Far Cry style. The conquest is in fact composed of a series of sections in which we must defeat enemies and advance, we do not have a real freedom of action. The thing that has struck me is that, after some conquest, a choice is offered by which, in essence, we automatically unite or subdue all the other tribes, skipping further conflicts. In retrospect it's not a bad choice at all, given that substantially avoids the repetition of a series of actions that, probably, would have led to boredom most of the players. On the other hand, however, it does not allow you to obtain all traditional weapons. Each Sifu, in fact, is equipped with a unique weapon that we get when we conquer the base. If we decide to automate the process this does not happen.
Ah, as if the unification (or not) of the tribes and the salvation of the Tree of Life were not enough, we must also have our revenge on Lupa-Lupine, guilty of a terrible murder and which in fact represents our nemesis, but it is a part of the plot that is so little taken care of and which is resolved with so much speed and little care that it is not even worth talking about. Furthermore the whole story is told by one person, with the sole exclusion of the voices of our conscience. In fact, the little animals make noises, groans that in some cases reminded me of Professor Strambic from Luigi's Mansion. The Italian narrator is Gianni Quillico whose emphasis and way of narrating, personally, and I emphasize personally, I did not like very much. It seemed to give everything a too childish tone and atmosphere and I focused on the English narrative, which I found more suitable and pungent. A rather peculiar choice that I soon began to appreciate, it seems to play within a dramatic fable.
But let's not forget our main purpose, we need to stop the World Eaters. And in this task, our old childhood friends are of great help, struggling with the construction of a series of equipment, such as mechs or submarines, necessary to fight against these beasts. Again we have a very similar mission structure. First of all we have to go looking for pieces to complete the vehicle, then we have to go and look for ammunition. After finishing, we can use it to cross an area of the world that was previously impossible to travel and collide with the boss of the day. The fights against the Mangiamondo, on the other hand, are very scenic and I appreciated them a lot. Nothing too complex or frustrating, mind you, but they do their job well even if that constant feeling of always remains to be in the hands of a rough game, not too refined. In addition to the main mission, an infinity of secondary missions, all based on collecting objects or solving puzzles, never too complex. They add practically nothing to the story or provide additional details, they are simple fetch quests but, despite everything, I enjoyed wandering around that world. I'm not sure why, maybe the atmosphere, the colors or a mix of everything, but the game really captured me.
To make our pet grow, as well as a classic tiered system which allows you to increase one of the basic features, they think about it mutations e benefits. Upgradeable through objects scattered around the world, mutations are like superpowers that allow you to fire, levitate, hurl lightning or vomit acid, so you can get the better of your enemies more easily while the benefits are essentially passive bonuses that increase damage, defense and more. Added to this is the ability to learn new special moves for each type of weapon in the game, even if it is nothing very large, just a couple of attacks per weapon.
The combat system, on the other hand, is quite varied. There are different types of melee and firearms così come il hand to hand combat, offering the possibility to mix what we have available in order to create our own personal fighting style. For example, I used a one-handed impact weapon and two pistols, always tending to prefer the latter while in the second run I decided to throw everything into hand-to-hand combat. Furthermore, by pressing the right series of keys in sequence, we can perform some special moves. By concatenating three different ones, we enter the state of Super Wung-Fu, complete with a slowdown in time, super speed and a lot of damage for everyone. Again, as you have already read in other paragraphs, I have always noticed how everything was in a rather raw state. The shots have no weight, you do not feel the impact of a weapon in the least and sometimes it happened to me that the series of keys to press to activate the special attack did not work.
One of the most interesting elements of the title is the excellent possibility of customizing weapons and armor. Getting the right pieces around the world we can just build weapons from scratch, putting together the pieces we like most and thus obtaining a huge amount of weapons differentiated by type, damage, element and bonus. As for the pieces of armor, we can graft additional accessories which, even in this case, give different bonuses. Not to mention the character and enemy design, which I found simply delicious and which captured me. I completed the first run in about twelve hours, without however doing any secondary missions and, essentially, going only and only forward along the main one.
It's not that great if we consider the open-world landscape with RPG elements, however, unlike many other similar games, I was not bored. Probably eliminating the continuous conquest of the outposts has had a positive effect on me and the main missions, even if similar to each other, still take you to extremely different areas and that I enjoyed exploring. Also consider that the game often pushes you to do secondary missions, among the most important of which are those dedicated to defensive suits. Some parts of the world are indeed corrupt and can inflict various negative statuses, such as heat, cold, poison, radioactivity, or simply a lack of oxygen. After trying one of these malus for the first time, the mission relating to the protective suit automatically appears, one for each element, necessary to explore in peace. In my current second run, already knowing the game, devoting myself a little more to exploration and secondary, it's about 45 hours of gameplay and I still have stuff to do.
I was sincerely sorry to see the lack of incisiveness that permeates most of the elements of Biomutant, as well as the history and the sometimes gross errors. For example, after completing the game we can start a New Game + maintaining level and equipment. The problem is that, even if the level is maintained, the statistics are reset, effectively bringing us back to Level 1, and Karma just doesn't reset. Each action, during Biomutant, brings points to one side or the other, so if during the first game you played as good, you start the second automatically as good, even if you choose to help the baddest tribe. The absence of an encyclopedia or a bestiary is also very regrettable, it would have been interesting to read more about the enemies, the races and their background, perhaps dating back to the pre-pollution era. It's simply a game that remains average composed of a team of about twenty people who, all in all, however, they came up with a title essentially without problems.
Everything flows well, I have not found any serious bugs, only a little something minor that can be solved by reloading the last save. I set practically all the available settings to maximum quality, always going around the 70/80 fps at 2560 × 1080 resolution, without stuttering and without any kind of slowdown. The gameplay is enjoyable and seems to be a great basis for a future second chapter. The thing that scares me, in this case, is to see all the incredible hype that is mounted around Biomutant even if, in this case, the software house and the marketing department have been extremely clear and transparent in their communication and I don't understand how some people expect a game-changing title when, basically, it is an unpretentious, simple and most importantly fun game. And titles of this type are welcome!
Note - The game was performed on the following configuration:
- Motherboard - Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO
- CPU - Intel Core Intel Core i7-9700K
- RAM - 16GB DDR4 2133mhz Corsair Vengeance
- Power Supply - EVGA 650GQ 80+ Gold
- GPU - Gigabyte G1 2080 8gb
- Heatsink - Noctua nuh-d14
- SSD - samsung 256 GB