Biomutant (PS5): COMPLETED!

Biomutant (PS5): COMPLETED!

I do wonder sometimes what it is that makes me decide to play certain games. I’d cast a rough eye over reviews of Biomutant around the time it came out and it seemed to be an average open world adventure/explorey game, so ignored it. It’s now on PS+ (or possibly PS++ or PS+++: It’s hard to tell these days) and I downloaded it for reasons unknown, then started to play it.

After picking the fur colours for my… rat? Meerkat? I was set off in a world which immediately made me think of Fallout crossed with Stray – full of post-apocalyptic ruins and areas of poisoned air. Only with a narrator who won’t shut the hell up (I later discovered you can, thankfully) and keeps calling things by silly childish names. The plot is a mashup of three main stories – avenge the death of your parents by some big bad creature, unite all the tribes by joining one than either convincing them to join together (by fighting them) or helping them wipe the others out (by, uh, fighting them), and finally Save the World by stopping four huge Puffs (and no piano) from eating the roots of the World Tree or whatever it’s called. The latter seems to be the “main” quest.

Gameplay is like a cross between Zelda: Breath of the Wild and $random_ubisoft_title, with a large map and regions each with things to do. Tribes to take down, missions to complete, and loads of rubbish “knob twiddling” puzzles to solve. These puzzles are all virtually identical, whether they’re to activate washing machines, telephones, locked doors, record players, or other “old world relics”, and although there’s a side quest for each type, I really couldn’t be bothered tracking them all down.

Combat is a mix of smacking things with sword or club type weapons, or shooting with gun type weapons. It’s serviceable, but not really as fun or as fluid as other similar games You can build and modify your weapons and armour by swapping out parts and adding items to them for more damage or better healing or whatever, and this bit of the game is (I found, at least) pretty addictive – I was always trying to get the numbers up for, to be honest, little actual difference. I was always hilariously overpowered and near indestructible, and actually, the only time I died was when I jumped of a cliff into oblivion and the game reloaded an autosave which put me back just as I died. Helpful.

Graphically, Biomutant can look very, very pretty. Some incredible vistas, great sunsets, and amazing landscapes. Most of the characters are furry and the way the fur moves is wonderful. However, when it gets dark – especially in caves and underground – it looks dreadful. As in, you can’t see a bloody thing. If I fiddle with the gamma everything just goes grey instead of black, and looks worse. I don’t think it’s my TV, and I don’t think it’s HDR, as I don’t have this issue with other games. It’s like anything more than 30% black is 100% black. It affects the game too, as it makes these areas difficult to navigate and ugly on the eyes. You have a sort of torch, but it has a really narrow cone of effect so doesn’t help much.

To sum up, it’s a mix. There are some really nice bits, like the world and the characters and bits of the story. There are some rubbish bits, like the seemingly half-baked (and totally unnecessary, aside from needing to use that game title for something) power-up unlocking system and the puzzles. There are sections wholesale “borrowed” from other games, like Link’s glider, “horse”riding and Assassin’s Creed-like loot-chests. There’s a whole light/dark choice aspect which seems to get mostly ignored when you talk to people anyway. I went full “light” and kept being told that I might consider forgiving rather then destroy the guy who killed my family, but when it comes down to it, you’re not given that option. Too much of the fringes of the game feel under-done or incomplete. What is good, is really good, but it’s let down in so many ways.

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