Biomutant Review: Bonker’s Okay Fur Day

Biomutant is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. I reviewed the game on an Xbox Series X while playing on hard mode. A copy of Biomutant was provided for Gideon’s Gaming for the purpose of review.

You can find a video version of this review here! Biomutant Review: Bonker’s Okay Fur Day – YouTube

Overview

Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably knows I had really high expectations for Biomutant. It was one of my most anticipated games of the year. Did it live up to my expectations? Well, no, not really. But that says more about me setting the bar too high than it does about Biomutant’s quality.

Biomutant has plenty of highs and lows, which makes it difficult to review. Black and white can be pretty clear, but it’s fifty shades of grey that can be a little sticky and gross.

You play as a mutant furry animal thing, out to stop the end of the world or speed it up. Either way, you’re going to need to take part in a tribe war and battle massive world eaters whose names alone inspire fear, such as Porky Puff and Hoof Puff!

The boss fights are really cool, but also disconnected from most of the game.

You will accomplish this while exploring a massive world to piece together your own arsenal of impressive-looking weapons, psionic abilities, and biogenic superpowers! But that won’t do you any good against the world eaters because all of their fights take place in vehicles!

Biomutant is a game of buts, small ones, big ones, and of course furry ones. Every good AND bad aspect of the game is usually met with one type of “but” or another and that’s how I’m going to frame this review. Given how the game treats its black and white morality system it’s almost thematic that many of its features also have two clear sides.

This is a prime example of why the context of a review matters far more than the score. How much you enjoy Biomutant is going to be tied to how you feel about all double-side coins I’m about to dump on the table. It’s not about the number I assign to it at the end.

The World

Biomutant is an open-world game in the most precise sense of the word. After the intro, you are pretty much free to go anywhere and do what you want. It gave me feelings similar to Skyrim. That’s great because Bethesda is determined to withhold the next Elder Scrolls until I’m 90, when my irritable bowel syndrome is making some hospice workers’ life a living hell.

There are somewhere around three trillion side quests in Biomutant. If you’re the type of player that likes to speed through a game super quick to get to the next one. First of all, I’ve always wondered do you chew your food? Or just inhale it to get to the next meal? Second, You probably won’t enjoy Biomutant or any other open-world game for that matter. Don’t buy curtains then write half a novel on the internet about how you wanted blinds and hate curtains when the package clearly said curtains.

But…

The open world of Biomutant is breathtaking and packed with things to find. I was constantly distracted because every building, cave, totem, or corner held something for me to explore. Every quest took forever because my trek through the beautiful landscape was dotted with detours to various points of interest.

The world can be pretty breathtaking.

Exploring is important since several bits of your character’s progression are linked to it. Leveling up grants you Wung Fu points. Bio and Psi points both require you to complete different types of activities. Psi points are linked to shrines and morality choices, while Bio points are obtained by slaying Morks and finding Bio containers. Not to mention, all the sweet loot and crafting components you can find while adventuring.

The exploration is entertaining because in addition to sightseeing and combat encounters, you’re rewarded with tangible benefits. Finding a treadmill with a small mini-game to boost your agility just feels really nice.

But…

The world is not emergent at all. I have a personal disdain for fast traveling in open-world games. Yet, once you have explored a region there was little reason not to use it. Nothing ever happens when you’re traveling through an area you have already cleared. Random attacks or encounters don’t seem to exist. Since many quests require backtracking, the scenic run can start to feel like a commute to work and that makes fast travel look more appealing.

Wheeee!

Traveling the world can be interesting thanks to the wide array of mounts and vehicles you can obtain. Even your powers can be used in cool ways. Like summoning a mushroom to bounce you somewhere high or using a fire dash to get around quickly.

But!

The game has a weird logic about where you’re allowed to use certain transports. You can only summon a mech in the dead zone and only a certain biome allows the jet ski even though several other large rivers and lakes exist. The game also features a ton of different puzzles, but they are so incredibly simple that my monkey brain usually got them on the first try.

The puzzles are super simple.

Several places of the world are affected by some kind of extreme environment. It can range from a lack of oxygen to extreme heat, or radioactivity. To enter these places you can either equip enough gear with a high enough resistance to that environment, spend bio points to increase your resistance to it, or track down a specific suit for it. I really enjoy the fact that the game presents you with an obstacle like that and just says “Solve it” while leaving the how to you.

But…

As soon as you enter one of those zones it pings you with the side quest to track down the suit specific for that zone. Doing that is going to be faster and easier than the other methods. If you waste points upgrading your resistance and then find the suit later, it was for nothing anyway.

The main story is interesting if confusing, and tries to send a message of morality, consequences, and how memories shape us. It’s mostly surface-level stuff but intriguing all the same. A lot of contexts can be hard to follow given the gibberish and alternate names for things that the setting uses. I’m assuming something at some point went over my head because the good ending left me in my seat wondering what the actual hell just happened and why.

Wung Fu

Your character creation dictates your starting stats, appearance, gear, and a special perk tree, but you are free to equip and use any weapon in the game. Each weapon type has special skills you can unlock by leveling up and spending Wung Fu points.

Performing three different special moves allows you to unleash super Wung Fu with four special abilities, such as a slo-mo bullet-time attack or a high-speed flurry of anime-style punches.

Combat is a mix of melee, guns, powers and jank.

The combat is actually fairly deep. You use a combination of melee weapons, guns, and special psionic or biogenic powers. You can also swap weapons on the fly and pull off all kinds of stylish combos to activate Super Wung Fu.

This means you can pretty much forge your own playstyle between powers and weapon choices, and once you get the hang of it, it can be fun and looks pretty cool to boot.

But…

It’s also kind of janky and looks terrible unless you’re playing it well. Certain animations lock your character so you can’t do anything else. While others will let you cancel out of them, interrupting the attack. Until you figure the system out you’re going to feel clumsy. Even at its best, there is a distinct lack of impact with melee weapons. The game really feels weird if you built a strong brute character since you’re still gonna bounce all over the place like an over-caffeinated Yoda.

Everyone was Wung Fu Fighting!

The various powers are super cool though. Bio points can be spent on really weird stuff like vomiting acid, forming a bouncy bubble, or fisting an enemy with a rock-hard earthen knuckle. Bio points are earned by finding specific containers and murking some morks, a mean insect-like creature.

Psi points on the other hand can grant you magic-like powers such as fireballs, lightning, and telekinesis. You obtain them by finding shrines, and deciding what to do about captive prisoners.

But…

Psi-powers are hooked into the morality system with different powers requiring you to be varying levels of light and dark. The morality system, is incredibly silly. While the story paints both sides of the conflict as having merit to some degree. The individual choices are basically, do you murder this woodland creature you captured? Or pet it. Do you help this prisoner you set free? Or punch them in the face?

It was hard to take my light playthrough seriously when I had to take part in the wanton slaughter of small animals just because I wanted to buy telekinesis. On the flip side, if you wish to play Darth Furriest, you aren’t gonna be casting any finger lightning until you cuddle a set amount of squirrels.

Many animals we harmed in the making of this screen grab.

The crafting system is a serious highlight of Biomutant. It’s rare to find actual weapons in the world. Instead, you find parts that you can piece together like legos. This, of course, forms the weapons stats and rarer bits even have elemental properties or passive abilities. But it also makes your weapons look super unique!

But…

There is almost no way to tell what creatures are weak to what damage types, or if they are at all. It’s unclear what the status ailments do outside of trial and error.

You also unlock special weapons from the six tribes by either allying with or defeating them, such as a boomerang, staff, or bow. They all come with their own move sets that you can work into your playstyle and can be a lot of fun.

But….

Tribeweapons can’t be upgraded, so your crafted stuff is going to almost always be stronger. Furthermore, the game is super imbalanced. Strength dictates your damage with melee weapons, while intelligence affects your powers. Guns aren’t affected by stats outside of critical chance. This means your guns are just always good. No matter what type of character you made, and they are broken as hell.

Effective or not, your crafted weapons always look unique!

Guns outclass melee and freak powers by a huge margin. When it comes to Super Wung Fu the bullet time move is nearly always the best choice because of that. Biomutant does have difficulty settings which is great!

But…

The game is incredibly easy even on hard, even if you don’t abuse how much better guns perform over the other weapons. The boss fights with the world eaters are super cool set pieces where the fight changes as the world eaters lose health…and not a lot of your powers or gear really matter since you fight them in vehicles.

Furdict

Biomutant is equal parts good and bad. There is a lot to love but It’s a massive game that buckles under its own weight. It does have a ton of interlocking systems. But the issue is, a lot of those systems have broken gears. So the well-oiled machine that Biomutant could be, still blows smoke in your face at random intervals and singes your eyebrows.

Despite it all, I always wiped the soot off my face, just to get another look at the gorgeous environment and explore another nook or cranny for loot. For every time I frowned at the clunky combat, I smiled when I pulled off some combo that made me feel like a mix of Jackie Chan and Rocket Raccoon.

I may not have any desire to return to the game, but I enjoyed my time with Biomutant. I think most fans of the genre will too, jank and all. Its world is a beautiful one worth exploring, even though it’s a bit static. Evolution wasn’t entirely kind to it, but Biomutant still grew up to be a respectable but flawed fur-filled adventure.

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You might also enjoy my review of Cyberpunk 2077

Pros

  • Beautiful open world with tons of meaningful exploration
  • Freeform do what you want approach to the open world
  • Tons of combat combo potential between weapons and powers
  • Awesome boss fights using vehicles
  • Great crafting system with weapons and armor appearances that can vary wildly based on how you craft them
  • Difficulty settings present

Cons

  • Open World is static with very little happening when traveling, especially through areas you have already been.
  • Combat is a bit janky and weightless
  • Guns are massively overpowered and the game is a pushover, even on Hard
  • Your powers and weapons go mostly unused against the World Eaters
  • The game isn’t clear on what effects do or what they are good against
  • Tribe weapons can’t be upgraded
  • The puzzles are super simple
  • It is wonky about where you can and can’t use transports