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The biomutant (for PC)

Biomutant ($59.99) is a strange and unique action-RPG. Early on, you meet a humanoid ferret-monk who speaks in Star Wars-style alienspeak, which the game's English storybook narrator translates

PROS

A unique gaming environment
Beautiful surroundings

The thrill of discovery is perfectly captured.

Character customisation is extensive.

OBJECTIVES

Combat in the mud

Some game mechanics aren’t clearly explained.

Some arduous boss battles

At times, progress appears to be overly complicated.

In some aspects, Biomutant ($59.99) is a strange and unique action-RPG. Early on, you meet a humanoid ferret-monk who speaks in Star Wars-style alienspeak, which the game’s English storybook narrator translates. The monk, dubbed Out-of-Date, later appears dressed as a greaser and humming Elvis-themed pidgin. Biomutant is, in some respects, the consequence of the game industry pounding away at the open-world whetstone. It’s a big world filled with action combat, plenty of loot and destinations to explore, mounts to tame and travel on, and a variety of local gangs to subdue. If you’ve played an open-world game in the last decade, you’ve seen something similar in terms of gameplay. Biomutant, however, doesn’t quite measure up to its AAA counterparts in every way, given its independent origins. Despite the tedious combat and poorly explained game mechanics, Biomutant is an intriguing and entertaining PC game.

The Tree of Life Re-Blooms
The storey of Biomutant starts in the ashes of our world. Toxanol, a megacorporation, contaminated the Earth to the point where it mutated and fought back, putting humanity to death. There’s a race of tiny humanoid mammals in our place; there’s no actual analogue to any one animal, just a semi-marsupial mash-up.

You are the Ronin, a young orphan orphaned by an old tragedy who must learn to wield a blade and save the world. (Or destroy it, as Biomutant’s hook is player choice.) You can create a character from one of six breeds, each of which is skilled in a particular area. Then you mutate your character, with the warrior’s overall attributes and appearance determined by its genetic code. Finally, you can choose between Dead-Eye, Commando, Psi-Freak, Saboteur, and Sentinel as your class. As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to unlock new features.

In its early stages, Biomutant throws a lot at you. There’s a light/dark morality system, a conflict between rival animal tribes, and the primary mission to remember. In the latter, you must combat the World Eaters who feast on the Tree of Life’s vast roots in order to save it. To do so, acquire Bio Points, Psi Points, and Upgrade Points and use them to purchase additional Psi-Powers, Perks, and Wung-Fu abilities for the Ronin. There’s also a robust crafting system.

Biomutant provides a lot of mutant-building freedom, although it could need greater power consolidation. Some combat-focused talents don’t feel really useful, and the distinction between ability subcategories like Psi-Powers and Bio-Genetics could definitely be eliminated. Biomutant adds a lot of cruft to compete with its AAA peers at times, rather than questioning if it’s required.

Biohazard, Biomutant
Despite the fact that Experiment 101’s development team is relatively small—under 20 full-time employees—Biomutant aesthetically outperforms its peers. The world that unfolds in front of you is breathtaking. Rolling meadows of grass adorned with flowers of many colours move in the mild breeze. In addition, your adventure will lead you across contaminated marshes and immense deserts, as well as little hamlets and devastated cities. The Tree of Life is at the core of it all, a vast structure that shifts as you grow, a vast tribute to your progress. Its roots tower over areas of the landscape, creating a spectacular spectacle.

Experiment 101 chose not to use the Ubisoft-style towers that many open-world games use to categorise them. There are no structures that convey the landscape of any location; you must explore on foot. In most cases, exploration is rewarded with a new loot location, a Tribal fort to conquer, or a dangerous zone to survive.

Hazard zones make it impossible to move wherever you want. As you go around the world, you’ll see areas covered in a thick, tinted fog or haze, each of which represents a different form of hazard: heat, biohazard, cold, radioactivity, or hypoxia (lack of oxygen). When you enter specified zones, the effect will increase to 100%, at which time you will begin to lose health. You can deal with hazard zones by combining resistance-enhanced gear, increasing your own intrinsic resistance, or selecting the right suit set for the job. It provides you choices: should you try to face a hazard zone for a short length of time, or do you wait until you’ve built up enough resistance to take on the challenge?

Then there are the automobiles. To take on each of the four World Eaters, you’ll need a different strategy. The Googlide jetski allows you to navigate filthy waterways in one place, while the gigantic Mekton suit allows you to survive without air in another. Biomutant really promotes the exploration feeling with the hazard regions and lack of towers. It takes a lot of courage to go through a biohazard zone’s green haze unharmed.

The Rot Within Biomutant tries to achieve a lot and succeeds in certain areas, but it also fails. Its fighting system is similar to that of many other action-RPGs, with your character cutting and slashing his way through enemies. The problem is that the hack-and-slash combat isn’t as refined as Nier: Automata’s, and you don’t have to contend with control like you do in Immortals Fenyx Rising or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

You usually combat large enemy groups with a single plus-sized ringer. This usually boils down to slicing and parrying the lesser foes while being unable to commit to a combo due to the big ones’ strikes. Smaller adversaries may be affected by psi-powers like Freeze and Blaze, but larger adversaries often reject them outright. So fighting consists of dodging, dodging, dodging, parrying, shooting, and slashing. It’s sluggish and laborious, whittling down tiny foes until you can concentrate on the bigger one. I’d prefer more direct control over the battlefield and the equipment I’ll need to combat the various foes.

Biomutant has a hard time explaining itself at times. One task required me to locate an object buried under bushes. It was ineffective to slash the bush. The bush did not catch fire as a result of the Blaze ability. Running into the bush had no effect. What is the solution? I’m squeezing my way through the undergrowth. That isn’t the most intuitive answer, and the game didn’t give you that option.

Some of the boss battles are equally perplexing. Unless you expose his weak places, the second boss is unbeatable. It’s unclear how you do it, and I just figured it out after two previous failed tries. Even after discovering that solution, the fight remained difficult owing to the narrow window for damaging the boss. It wasn’t a difficult battle; it was just a long one with no obvious markers. A game should provide you with all of the information you require to succeed. It’s a shame that Biomutant makes a mistake here, because it’s these small flaws that compound up over time.

Is Your PC Capable of Playing Biomutant?
Biomutant is a pretty game, but it won’t put a strain on your computer. Biomutant requires an AMD FX-8350 or Intel Core i5-4690K CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 or Radeon R9 380 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 25GB of storage space as minimum requirements. An AMD Ryzen 5 1600 or Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti or Radeon RX 590 GPU, and 16GB of RAM are recommended. Because that isn’t new PC hardware, you should be alright if you maintain your system up to date.

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600X CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, and 24GB of RAM in my gaming PC. I had no trouble running Biomutant at 3840 by 2160 resolution with the majority of the extra visual elements enabled. There are options for draw distance, resolution scaling, and frame rate constraints, but other graphical options like ray tracing and ambient occlusion are lacking, making it difficult to customise your visual experience. Aside from that, Biomutant on my PC operated at a mostly locked 60 fps per second.

Ronin with One Eye
Experiment 101 built an intriguing universe with Biomutant, which has a stunning look and a strong sense of exploration. The team has crammed it with loot and progression mechanisms that allow you to truly customise your character. Unfortunately, that level of intricacy isn’t always required, and places that should be clarified aren’t always.

Biomutant isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a nice one with a few flaws. It’s unique, hugging all of its influences so passionately to its bosom that you’ll want the studio to be able to build on it. You’ll be looking forward to the sequel or expansion. The first step wasn’t as strong as it could have been, but with some tweaking, Biomutant’s future might be bright.

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