Something I’ve noticed in my years of partaking in game discussions is that a lot of people do a bad job of separating their personal experience with a game from whether they define that game as “good” or “bad”. In other words, a lot of people seem to have difficulty separating subjectivity from objectivity. I’m going to be a little hypocritical here, but Biomutant is one of those super rare cases where I actually feel comfortable saying “this is a bad game”.
So let’s rewind for a minute and talk about what Biomutant even is. The game is touted as a post-apocalyptic Kung-Fu RPG (which takes place in an open world) that features a combination of scrappy melee combat, gunplay, and mutant (magic?) powers/skills. The premise of the world is pretty neat – things have gone to crap after some kind of mass-extinction event brought on by the careless Toxanol corporation dumping toxic waste into the ocean and fumes into the air. The animal tribes are vying for power and the world is in a precarious position, so you’re going to be choosing sides and working to either attempt to save the tree of life (this massive and awesome tree with roots sprawling across the map) or to kill it.
Unfortunately, the premise is pretty much the only cool thing about this game. The story is mediocre at best and is constantly being shoved into your face in annoying ways – constantly taking control away from you to show some dumb cutscene or to philosophize at you, but never seems to get anywhere interesting or important. The dialogue system is also absolutely atrocious – all the characters in the game speak nonsense (think animal crossing or sims language) that you can’t understand, so you have to wait for them to finish speaking and for the narrator to translate (at which point the subtitles finally pop up), which is neat for about ten seconds and then just gets in the way of the story/dialogue and wastes a lot of your time. I pretty much immediately turned off “auto-advance dialogue” in the accessibility options and skipped over all the parts where the animals talk to combat this, but it leaves conversations feeling very stilted. As if that’s not enough, the game also loves to throw “cute” (read: annoying) little Willy Wonka soundin’ stuff at you:
- It’s not mom, it’s “momsie” and “popsie”
- It’s not a train, it’s “chugga chugga”
- It’s not a toilet, it’s a “flush stool”
The character creation also really sucks, for lack of a better word. Biomutant commits (what I think is a) the cardinal sin of tying appearance and gameplay-relevant things (ie stat distribution) together, which I absolutely hate. It’s also a needlessly confusing process as they ask you to do things like decide the distribution of your elemental resistances (what?) before you’ve even been given a chance to experience them.
The combat is overall quite poor. There are some neat bits and pieces, but those are bogged down by how clunky and frustrating the rest of it is. All of the bio/psi abilities I unlocked felt clunky and worthless, leaving me with just the annoying melee stuff and the guns that feel “OK” but not “good.” On top of that, enemy animations are quite stiff, making things like parrying and dodging much more difficult than they need to be. As if that’s not enough, a lot of the enemies are just copy pastes of the same basic type but with a different skin. You’ll quickly notice a lot of fights that involve one bigger dude and a bunch of smaller dudes around them, for instance.
On top of everything else, the game also runs terribly for me on my 5700XT, which seems to be a common issue with this game and AMD GPUs. I messed around with various graphical settings and couldn’t get it running completely smoothly, even with it turned down to 1080p.
But even if you can stomach everything I’ve mentioned (and the many issues I haven’t bothered to, or we’d be here all day), Biomutant is game that truly epitomizes death by a thousand cuts. Being able to mess around with crafting weapons from different parts is neat on paper, but exceedingly clunky in practice when you have to deal with the confusing and unintuitive menus. There are puzzles strewn throughout the world, but in my six and a half hours of playtime every single one has boiled down to “turn knobs and align the colours.” The quests are boring. The visual style is OK, but mostly just due to the use of vibrant colour and not at all related to actual technical achievement. There are lots of areas to explore, but many of them boil down to not having much of interest. And then you have your mediocre story, annoying dialogue system, clunky and unsatisfying combat, poor performance, garbage mounts (why are the mounts so insanely slow?), and numerous other issues, all wrapped up in an open world with a lot of generic trappings. I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone, and that really sucks, because another game with the same premise could’ve been so much more.