If you haven’t already heard, Experiment 101, a game-development studio acquired by THQ Nordic, is working on their first major release under THQ, and it’s a doozy.
Biomutant, an open world, action role-playing game, featuring Kung-Fu inspired, customizable Raccoon-like protagonists. An oddly adorable – kill you without thinking twice about it – kind of game, and an oxymoron, if ever one did exist.
“Whaddaya lookin’ at? Ya mutant.”
Based in a post-apocalyptic world, you’ll traverse deteriorating landscapes, taking down a multitude of mutated creatures and enemy tribes (six in total), in addition to a number of aesthetically disturbing, recurring world-bosses known as “World Eaters”. Five of these hulking monstrosities exist throughout the game, and are largely responsible for the imminent demise of the planet in which you reside. The aforementioned “World Eaters” – as their names suggest – are eating the world, so to speak. The “Tree of Life,” as it is referred to, is the lifeblood of this mutagen-laden universe, and its five roots (hence the five “Eaters”) are essentially being gnawed at, shamelessly threatened, and facing something of a botany genocide should you not intervene.
You might assume defeating these five beasts is the overall objective of the game, and in theory, you would be correct. However, Biomutant is no simple game, as it has been crafted around branching story-lines, where your decisions can entirely alter the adventure you embark on. It just so happens, you don’t NEED to defeat the 5 Worlds Eaters to complete the game at all. In fact, the six tribes mentioned earlier play a pivotal role in the story progression. Word has it that these tribes are divided in what is essentially a turf war, with some tribes well-meaning, and some less well-meaning. You can join their causes for good/bad, or pit them against one another should you so choose to play the less virtuous, bad guy role. Most people view Raccoons in that light anyway.
This seems to be the most glaring theme for Biomutant – customization/dynamism – as from the get go you can allocate stats as you see fit. Not only does this change your characters raw stat distribution, but also changes the appearance of your toon as a whole. Options range from lankier, more agile builds, to stockier, meathead tank types, and everything in between. Even your ear length can change based on your specific stat allocation. Fortunately, you’re not stuck once you create your build, as there are in-game mechanics that allow for reallocation throughout the game. In addition to stats, there are unique “mutations” you can equip/purchase for your toon, allowing for some pretty awesome gameplay modifiers.
Continuing with the theme of non-linear gameplay, the depth of weapon customization as it stands is simply staggering. Experiment 101 studio head, Stefan Ljungqvist, was quoted as stating there are “more than half a million combinations,” regarding what he calls “ordinary weapons” within the game. There are also mechs, mounts, water-skis, and unique ways to travel terrain. Speaking of, there a number of different environmental hazards you’ll need to be mindful of: extreme cold, “dead zones,” radioactive ruins, and a few others. You’ll need to gear up accordingly, depending on your current environmental dilemma.
Aesthetically, this game looks awesome. Experiment 101 definitely has drawn inspiration from a number of different artistic styles, most notably, that of the throwback comic-book variety. Pow! Pew! Smash! That kind of deal. You have to witness it in action to truly appreciate how well it fits its flowy, stylistic gameplay.
Biomutant also draws from a number of different successful titles: Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Ratchet and Clank, and arguably even some Blizzard Entertainment games with hit counters popping up all over the place. The combat looks satisfyingly smooth, with an excellent mix of projectile attacks and close quarters combat to keep things interesting. Your play style will certainly vary based on your choice of weapon, build, and mutations, but gameplay videos thus far mostly showcase aerodynamic procyonids, seamlessly stringing together ground and aerial combos.
If you like Raccoons, Kung-Fu, comics books and creepy mutants, but not necessarily in that order, you’re bound to like what Biomutant is offering up. We still have a ways to go before release, as it got delayed just recently, aiming for a Summer 2019 release. Experiment 101 devs are promising a lot as it stands, and one can only hope all these promises will remain until the official release. Should that be the case, we may be in for one of the better open world – action RPGs to grace gaming recently. Only time will tell.