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[Rapid Review] Biomutant

Posted on May 13, 2024 by (@@Virtualboi92) in Reviews, Switch

Biomutant review

System: Switch
Release date: May 14, 2024
Developer: Experiment 101
Publisher: THQ Nordic

THQ Nordic’s Biomutant had a rocky upbringing. Much like the pint sized, furry denizens of the game’s open world, the origins of this troubled title are mired in mystery, and drawn out over what feels like eons. Back when the game was originally announced, it showed a level of promise and originality that genuinely raised eyebrows. Much ado was made about how the game’s developer, Experiment 101, had a level of creative liberty that – in this day and age – was uncommon. If anything, Biomutant exuded that “Double A” feeling – a game that was allowed to be what its creators wanted to be, unconstrained by the expectations of executive decision makers. Fast forward to the game’s launch in 2021 for PS4, Xbox One and PC – and then again to 2024, and we’ve been graced with a port of Biomutant for the Switch. Should THQ Nordic have bothered?

Biomutant’s core proposition offers up an open-world, melee focused RPG where you craft weapons and upgrade a fuzzy little dude with abilities and stat-buffs in order to take on stronger foes. The moment to moment gameplay experience of the game is about as blunt as that sentence was – and the game’s transition to Nintendo’s handheld certainly hasn’t smoothed any of the criticisms that were frequently leveled at Biomutant when it was originally released. The game’s map is lush and large, but it’s practically devoid of meaningful interaction beyond looking at it. The combat is loaded with unique moves and modifiers, allowing you to focus on speed and agility or weight and impact – however the mechanics are floaty, unresponsive, and lacking an intuitive control scheme. Just a short time into Biomutant and you’ll realize that you’ve seen nearly everything the game has to offer before in a more curated and well produced form elsewhere.

The game’s narrative is a perfect example of this so-so seesaw. A mysterious narrator initially sets the stage for a story that weaves the lives of tiny, genetically modified samurai animals with our own human history. It bills itself as a tale with a peculiar beginning and an even more peculiar end – but there’s very little substance here. Any individual element that feels like it might carry significance or move the world and its characters in a new direction almost always fizzles out to nothing – and that narrator? He’s there all the time. You can tone down his ramblings in the options menu, but I feel as though you’ve missed the mark if you’re opening up the ability for me to turn down the only human voice in the game.

Biomutant review

In gameplay terms, Biomutant will only give the most obsessive of hunter gatherers any satisfaction. I myself often find myself in a compulsive loop whenever a game allows me to make “numbers go up”, but the anything-goes nature of Biomutant’s combat meant that I never really felt as though a specific upgrade path was super essential outside of a handful of scenarios. You can build your own melee and ranged weaponry, and combat aims to mimic the “gun fu” of a classic hong kong action flick – but it just doesn’t feel tactile enough to make each impact feel like it’s having an effect.

I could almost forgive the sheer mundanity of Biomutant’s makeup if it were a looker on the Switch, but it absolutely isn’t. The game was made in Epic’s Unreal Engine, and anyone that has read my last couple of reviews will already know how Unreal games are shaping up on Nintendo’s console these days. Much like the recently reviewed Mythforce, Biomutant gives off a “lower than low” look – as if the graphical options have been stamped down well past the bottom end of what’s available on the PC version. The resulting image quality is poor, graphical fidelity is mushy, and the frame-rate is choppy. The performance in particular can be a real bug bear as combat heats up – you’ll frequently find yourself inundated with enemies which can send the frames per second plummeting.

The Verdict

When I first booted up THQ Nordic and Experiment 101’s Biomutant, I was ever so briefly awash with a feeling that games often struggle to evoke these days – newness. The self proclaimed “Kung Fu Fable” RPG initially plays its hand quite close to its chest, and its opening few moments benefit from this mystique immensely. Sadly, once you’re actually milling about in Biomutant’s open world, you’re shovel-fed mechanics, story beats and technical shortcomings that we are simply too overly familiar with in 2024.

Biomutant copy provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.

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