I’ve been so excited for Biomutant for ages… years… it’s been coming that long. Even though there had been periods of radio silence, you can tell the team of ex-Just Cause developers, a small team of 20, spent those many months on this charming, engaging and kooky world. And it shows.
And only a week in to my adventure as a mutated cat, I’m hooked. Writing this with one of my feline boys, Zack, snoring on my lap - who may be a munster at times, but not the Biomutant sort - is often keeping me company while I play and explore the world with an overwhelming and endless sense of curiosity.
Its joyful and relaxed exploration is paired up with its own mixed breed of Samurai-influenced melee combat and up-cycled ranged weapon play. Upcycled, yes, not recycled. Biomutant has its own language too.
For the indecisive among you, starting the game is screen after screen of character customisation. From class type to shape to fur markings to colour, there’s decision after decision. And I’m indecisive at the best of times. But rest assured, as you venture out in to the world, there are opportunities to visit the barber for a haircut if needed or a pool of radioactive goo for a body overhaul. So while your initial decisions matter, they’re never permanent.
After a tutorial world that throws combat and combos at you, the world is yours to explore. With the charming (if slightly repetitive) narration by David Shaw-Parker keeping you company as you uncover new areas and mechanics in the world, you are pushed ever so gently in the main quest’s direction… until… oh a side quest, another side quest, oh more side quests. While the side quests are your standard fare (go there, do this, return back), they’re also the catalyst to helping your wandering of the world feel more organic and purposeful. As you explore, the game’s charmingly mellow score accompanies you on your journey, while the world’s comic beauty shifts through its day/night cycle in a truly gorgeous world.
And, of course, you’re not alone too: from bandits to munsters (yes, not monsters) to a cast of gorgeous side characters along the way, the world, while open and spacious, never feels empty, and at the same time, never feels crowded. Experiment 101 have hit a great balance between exploration and combat, without either becoming too prominent.
When you do stumble upon a furry creature out to get you (yes, armed with weapons too), the combat lights up. Basic melee and ranged attacks create the foundation, but your unlockable Wushu moves (and then the eventual Super Wushu) unleash power, fury, explosions and comic book chaos that makes combat enjoyable,
The weapon crafting system - while plentiful in option, variety and freedom - can give you some truly bonkers combinations. Just over the weekend I found a flaming wooden rolling pin. So I’ve added a handle, attached some spikes, and have a bananas crazy weapon to fling around.
Better yet, it’s part of the one-handed category, so in my other hand, a sharp blade matched with a long handle and a chainsaw blade. Yes, it goes roooooom roooooom when I attack - that, mixed with swooshing fire from the flaming rolling pin.
From crafting new weapons to customising your outfit (with perks and add-ons too!), there is so much to discover, while really allowing your mutant furfriend to truly be your own. And as you continue to explore, there’s more to find, dig up, uncover and collect. And it doesn’t stop there too - including your expandable and customisable jetski-esque Googlide and a menagerie of oddly endearing mounts - this world has so much to explore and enjoy - and I’m just so happy to be in the middle of it.
While a native PS5 version would be a superb addition - and a texture upscale would be good - the PS4 build has been running incredibly well on the PS5 hardware. Load times are fast, none of the usual open world bugs or quirks seem apparent (at least not that I’ve experienced), and a super fluid 60 fps. Very rarely there’s a slight frame rate stutter, but overall, it is a visual delight to play.
Sitting on my shelf is the Collectors Edition box, including the statue, and this thing is just so gorgeous. It’s out of Zack’s reach (can’t have him getting jealous) but the detail and pose (and it’s a cat!) has been one of the most welcome additions to any Collectors Editions I’ve snagged along the way. And I know it’s just a box, but the artwork on the box (and quality of the card construction) is just superb too, especially compared to some Sony first party boxes like The Last of Us: Part II which fell apart on me. Top marks to THQ Nordic for quality presentation. Inside, accompanying the game and Mercenary class type pre-order bonus, is the CD soundtrack and a fabric key art. It’s not the most expansive Collectors Edition - but that statue is just too cute. And yes, I actually needed to find a computer with a CD drive so I could get it in to my Apple Music library.
While the game may not be comparable to the triple-A products, Experiment 101 have done a commendable job with Biomutant. Its fluid gameplay, cute and endearing lore, totally bananas crazy crafting and a chilled exploration vibe all merge together to form an engaging, enjoyable and special open world game that teeters on the edge of a comic book come to life. With radio silence for many months during its development, that time has been so well spent - and when this is the product of delays - a game that so clearly is filled with passion and love by its dev team - then more developers need to realise when their product isn’t ready for market. Biomutant took nearly four years from announcement to reach release, but it has been worth it (and I can’t wait to see how the world keeps being polished with post-launch work - it’s already such a great foundation).