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Video games are one of the best ways of storytelling. They let people experience and write their own stories in a virtual, living world. One of the main advantages that video games have over books is that the enjoyment of a book is strongly tied to your sense of imagination. Reading and imagining the setting is quite different from getting to experience the world for yourself – which is exactly what led to the growth of story-based games in the first place.

One of the best genres that help bring out the ability of video games to tell meaningful stories is definitely RPGs. Figuring out your own destiny in a world which dynamically changes based on the choices you make is a pretty cool way to show off the medium’s storytelling potential. There are many-a good RPGs out there that do an extremely good job at storytelling. Experiment 101’s Biomutant definitely tries to be one of them. The gameplay features showed off by the small team of developers during the early reveals were very enticing, attracting the attention of the entire gaming community. Needless to say, I was one of the folks who was blown away by the advertised features as well. When I got to play it, the game seemed a wee bit different – different from the other games that call themselves RPGs.

Revenge Against…Bigger ‘Pokemon’?

Biomutant is set in this post-post-apocalyptic world where nature is still reclaiming the artificial constructions of human beings. The materials and technology we left behind have become a part and parcel of the lives of the anthropomorphic creatures which have developed human-like intelligence. What’s weird is that the main story is a basic revenge story mixed with the classic “Save the World” trope thrown in for good measure. There are sections in the story that seems really off-putting, especially near the ending (which might need a few hundred YouTubers to be debunked before the developers come out and confirm one of them). The ending falls apart kind of like the original Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco.

The main story of Biomutant is a bit too short to bear.
The story’s progression seems a bit rash.

The game has a few shortcomings – the poorly written main story is definitely one of them. I definitely think an “Extended Cut” might be well overdue even before the game’s official release. If the ending itself is unsatisfactory, the story’s progression is even more so. The game doesn’t leave anything to the player to guess – everything seems to be predictable from the beginning onwards.

The game also introduces the concept of “black and white”. Every action the player performs in the game world aligns them more towards either a darker or a lighter path. The game claims that these actions have their consequences within the world. However, in my playthroughs, I experienced very few differences in the world with respect to the choices I made. The changes mostly happen in the outlook and the dialogue of the creatures towards my character. Choices are few and far between anyways and seem like a disjoint feature put together at the last moment just for the sake of it. The alignment feature seems like a huge missed opportunity on the developer’s part and could have been designed much better.

A Beautifully Designed Post-Post-Apocalyptic World

The world design of Biomutant forms a middle ground between Fallout and The Last of Us. While Biomutant‘s main focus is on the flora and fauna which survived in the aftermath of the disaster, the world itself stands out as an independent environment in which these flora and fauna have reclaimed what was once lost. In most sections of the world, nature has started growing and reclaiming the toxic over-urbanization and over-industrialization of the Earth’s surface by the now-extinct human race. Remnants of cities, factories, residences, warehouses, highways, rail tracks, and roads are found all over the world. The roads, rail tracks, and bridges are broken down by the overgrowth of algae and grass. Residental areas now look desolate and abandoned, with all technology left behind by their owners now gone. Toxic factories, warehouses, and smelters still emit gamma radiations of the third order, giving birth to untold abominations mutated by the radiations. Oil spills and heavy mineral dumping have created regions of zero oxygen where nothing can survive. Arid stretches of deserts and patches of frigid tundra are also present in numerous regions of the world. Green patches cover a majority of the world, reconquering what civilization took from them years ago. Of course, there also are small villages of creatures, each holding their own against renegade bandit creatures and other mutant threats out there.

Biomutant comes with many different biomes to explore and experience
The arid deserts are one of the regions in Biomutant’s post-apocalyptic world.

There are a variety of regions to explore and sweep through for collectibles. For the record, there generally are intelligent creatures living inside such regions that defend the region from outsiders (like the player). After that, it’s a mind-melding search for rare parts for crafting, Old World gadgets waiting to be fixed, Bioblob containers that the player needs to level up, and resource totems that need to be destroyed to gather resources for upgrading gear. Once again, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea to scour through areas in search of collectibles – I liked the idea of using collectibles to allow the player to explore the area completely, taking in the full beauty of it.

The design of moats, slumps, and water bodies is a bit weird since they cover a major section of the map. That wouldn’t normally be so annoying, but the fact that the player can swim barely for a few minutes at most even with upgraded stats makes this a pain in the bum. This forces the player to take an alternative route to a destination, often resulting in a longer travel time than usual. My theory is that this was made a feature on purpose to increase travel time and compensate for the short story.

The murky areas of Biomutant are designed weirdly.
Biomutant’s murky areas are designed to be in pretty weird places.

The game has a fast travel mechanism, but points for teleporting to and from and generally very scarce. Once a point is discovered, the player needs to literally pee on it to mark it as “conquered” territory. I really dig this subtle touch, considering the fact that dogs and cats also mark their territories by peeing on them.

Collect X Bear Buttocks

The game has a plethora of side quests that add to the game’s variety. This actually makes the player explore the beautifully crafted game world in its entirety. Moreover, side quests add to the lore – most of them tell the story of how Toxanol infected a living, breathing world for the worse, and how the creatures learned to live with a variety of environmental adversities. There’s a mission that asks you to look at notice boards and investigate nearby Old World artifacts that I really liked as it helped bring out the story of the Old World and what happened in the final few moments before its descent into despair. Some of the village missions also help tell the story about individual characters or individual species that have lived on in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Most of the side quests are much more enjoyable than the main quests, as is the case for most RPGs.

The post apocalyptic world of Biomutant has a lot of Old World gadgets to "collect".
Biomutant has a lot of Old World gadgets to explore and “collect”.

While most of the side quests do make the player explore the world, the “fetching” nature of the quests might not seem appropriate for everyone’s taste. Some of the quests are about tweaking Old World gadgets to put them back into shape, while others are about collecting parts for some “gear” the player is given throughout the game. The missions which revolve around “fetching” stuff might seem repetitive at times for most people, but strictly speaking, I enjoyed these side missions as I wanted to sample the open world for myself. Also, some of the side missions seem like unnecessary padding for the main story, which is extremely short in itself.

Aesop’s Fables but in a Digital Format

The game’s story might not be the best written especially when one considers how far modern RPGs have come in the storytelling department. However, Biomutant also has some very small but neat touches. Every game world dialogue is told by a narrator whose presence looms like that of a God who’s omnipresent. Of course, during interactions, every creature has its own voice – just that they speak in a sequence of squeals rather than uttering the glorious language of the Commonwealth. I also like how the translator acknowledges that the different species in the wasteland have their own unique languages and way of expressing thoughts and ideas. This is certainly an idea that leaves a lasting impression on any player – and I have to give a big thumbs up to the developers for coming up with this.

The narrator for Biomutant has done a splendid job.
Biomutant has an over-arching narrator who synchronizes perfectly with the story.

The game seems to be made in a way that the narrator almost acts as a babysitter for the player. This is made apparent through the dialect used, like “Chug-Chug” being used in place of trains and “Mooma” being used in place of mother. The narrator single-handedly makes the otherwise mundane story seem so much more exciting to play through.


The game’s combat is why I got to like the game in the first place. Combat offers variations in places where one least expects it. One can use melee weapons, shoot at the enemy from afar, or simply use mutant powers to simply obliterate their foes. The animation transition from one pose to the other as the main character dances with their enemies is just exotic to watch and praise. I preferred to go all-gun-ho in the latter half of the game, killing enemies in Max Payne mode – since that seemed to be the most fun and least time-consuming way to deal with enemies.

Biomutant offers a lethal arsenal for interested folks.
There are a variety of ways to deal with enemies in Biomutant.

One of the best features of Biomutant, as people might already have guessed from the trailers, is its crafting system. It’s possible to craft literally any weapon or gear from scratch with the help of parts that the player has scavenged already. The sheer possibilities for crafting are endless, limited only by one’s imagination (okay that’s clearly a hyperbole) and by the number of resources at hand. Every piece of gear or weapon is fully customizable on the get-go and can be changed in many ways possible if one has the resources to do it. There are a ton of resource totems waiting to be found in the open world, so gathering resources is pretty easy. Another easy way to gather resources is to scrap items one doesn’t need to craft items one actually needs.

The Generational Line

Biomutant is designed to be an extremely pretty game, looking good on both present-gen and next-gen hardware. At launch, the game will be launching with the preset options for present-gen hardware instead. The main differences in textures could be seen in the patches of grass and the ground, which do seem low-poly when the player decides to move up close to observe them. Even the slime at several sections in the game might look low-poly as well.

Biomutant is a game mid-way between current-gen and next-gen.
Biomutant draws the line between current-gen and next-gen architectures.

Biomutant‘s fur design for the creatures is perfect for the most perfect, but can sometimes have minor aliasing issues. Also, the game does seem to sacrifice view distance for increasing the framerate, which might not go down well with some of the people. Other than minor stuff like that, the game does deliver a visually pleasing, aesthetic world to roam around in. The textures for the destroyed buildings used in the game world are some of the best post-apocalyptic designs I have seen, even though I can’t agree with the scale of some of them (are the creatures currently the size of humans now?). Even the creature animations are very fluid, and one cannot help but stop and admire the power of the Unreal Engine even when they have a world to save.

A Mish-Mash of Good Ideas?

Biomutant certainly shakes up the open-world action RPG genre with a host of new ideas and an interesting setting- but does not deliver all that well when it comes to the story (or the design of the side quests). However, the mechanics provided are really fun to play around with, and the world oozes charm. It’s definitely a game I can let my younger brother try out without being worried that he might learn a litany of curses. That being said, hardcore RPG fans should do their research before jumping in since this might not be a “proper RPG” for them. Otherwise, for people who are itching for a chill game to explore in these troubling times, I would say Biomutant is a game worth buying as long as you keep your expectations in check.

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