THQ Nordic’s return to gaming (following its initial bankruptcy in 2012) was pretty epic, to say the least. Not only was the company revisiting many of its great franchises, but it also intended to take chances on new ones. And that includes Experiment 101’s Biomutant.
Initially announced in 2017 (!), this adventure took its sweet time to come out. However that’s forgivable, considering the development team consists of just around 20 people or so. And now that it’s finally arrived, we can see the fruit of its labor – and what sweet fruit it is.
Biomutant is a game that takes you by surprise, even if it does take a little bit to get started. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has wiped itself out (surprised?), and animals have taken over. Except now trouble brews, as the Tree of Life, which keeps the planet thriving, is dying. What’s worse, some tribes are all for everything coming to a perilous close; and there are nasty Worldeaters inhabiting corners of the country, threatening to destroy everything. It’s up to a lone animal hero – your character – to kick butt and save the day.
The gameplay featured in Biomutant is a real treat. Close-quarters combat is pretty good, mixing up different kung fu (cat fu?) techniques for your hero, including spinning attacks that are useful against larger enemies. Yet the real treat comes with the power-up items, including a metallic hand that can dish out extra damage, as well as some sweet firearms that you pick up along the way. What’s more, you can take them apart and actually make new badass weapons, provided your crafting skills are up to speed. Fortunately, the game educates you on how to get the job done – and soon you’ll be owning the planet.
There’s a great deal of variety in the missions as well, including entertaining side quests that can earn you bonuses, as well as a cool morale system that either lets you become the world’s savior, or a complete, stubborn pain in the tail. The choice is yours, with different options available. I do wish they had more weight over the course of your journey, but it’s cool to either save a tribe or watch it rip to shreds.
Just one thing, though – the conversations can drag out a bit. There are times when you just want to get through things and get to the next mission, but can’t because a character can drone on longer than expected. Those that enjoy context may live what they have to say, but others will wonder when they get finished so you can get back to the missions that matter.
Regardless, the controls handle very well, for the most part, particularly with the sweet parry system and the ability to chain together some killer combos, between your feral abilities and other moves. You’ll need to master them, too, because the Worldeaters put up an incredible challenge if you’re not ready for it.
On the Xbox Series X, Biomutant feels right at home. The game looks gorgeous on the platform, running at a brisk 60 frames per second and packed with enough open-world beauty to fill two games. The animations are also sharp, though there are times that the character textures can be a bit jittery. (It’s not too bad tho.) The loading times aren’t bad either, though that may depend on whether you’re installing the game on older hardware or not. We didn’t get to test it on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
As for sound, it’s excellent. There’s wonderful narration throughout the game, though, again, it can drone on a bit long in spots; the music is worth a listen and quite atmospheric at times; and the sound effects, though a bit on the small side, deliver where needed. Part of me wanted to hear the characters have voices, but, then again, that might’ve taken away from the realism theme at hand here.
For its first game, Experiment 101 has done a splendid job with Biomutant. It’s not perfect, and it sure took its sweet time getting here; but the overall experience delivers in spades. The combat system is exciting, the crafting system is really well done (complete with leveling up for your character to boot), and the presentation is mostly sharp. It’s also got a lot to do. We’re several hours in and still finding awesome stuff. Biomutant is a fine example of the adage “it’s worth the wait,” and further proof that THQ Nordic is here to stay.