Author Topic: Biomutant (Switch) Review  (Read 722 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline John Rairdin

  • Director
  • NWR Staff Pro
  • Score: 3
    • View Profile
Biomutant (Switch) Review
« on: May 13, 2024, 05:00:00 AM »

If I had a "Rairdin 7.5" stamp, I'd put it on this game.

Anyone who has followed my reviews for a while will know that I often praise a good 7.5/10. I find that games that sit around that score do so because they tried some weird new ideas. Generally, not all those ideas work flawlessly, but I love a game that is willing to try something fresh and different. Biomutant is one of those games. I originally picked it up on Xbox Series X back in 2021. Yes it was rough around the edges, but it also felt like a game out of time. A game from an era where you could take a risk rather than ensuring that every release be a major blockbuster. Now it is coming Nintendo Switch. It looks a little uglier, and there are no shortage of graphical downgrades, but in the end this is still very much that perfect flavor of 7.5.

Biomutant is a post apocalyptic game, but not in the general sense. The world ended a long time ago, but you’ve sorta moved on. The world isn’t gray and dead as the genre so often is. Instead it's bright and colorful. Wildlife has been left to mutate in strange ways, and new cultures have sprung up as a result. However this newest cycle of life now faces its own apocalypse. You play as a wandering ronin, orphaned from his family after his village was attacked when he was a child. Your journey will ultimately see you deciding between trying to save the world, or letting it burn away. All of this factors into a morality system that will affect the way in which you engage with the world.

The story of Biomutant is balanced between several different primary quest lines. One sees you hunting down four World-Eaters. These World-Eaters are giant creatures who are feeding on the World Tree, causing it to die. To reach them you’ll journey across the expansive open-world, making use of different vehicles and tools you’ll unlock along the way. Another primary quest focuses on uniting the divided tribes of the world under a single banner. To do this, you’ll align yourself with a tribe of your choosing, then work with them to claim the territory of the others. Scattered across all of this is no shortage of side quests and activities as well, ensuring you stay pretty busy. Though you’re generally free to focus your attention wherever you find most interesting. The story itself is told in an unique way. Every character speaks in a garbled language, which is then translated for you by the narrator. Your attachment to the narrator will determine whether this is charming or grating, but for myself I really enjoy this element of storytelling.

Moment to moment gameplay takes the form of an open-world, action RPG. As you explore the world you’ll engage in both ranged and melee combat. Your exact loadout of weapons and style of combat is up to you. I generally found that melee combat felt pretty loose, as enemies don’t suffer appropriate knockback when hit. It's unfortunate as it feels like Biomutant wants you to engage with its martial arts inspired melee combat system, but it just isn’t very good. As a result I focused more on ranged combat. Here I opted for dual wielding two pistols. As you progress you’ll not only find new weapons, but new components to modify them, or to just build your own. The same goes for armor components which can be modified with the scraps you find throughout the map.

The world is covered in hidden caves to explore, villages to rescue from attack, and people to help. That said, the rewards for most of these activities are generally comparable to what you’ll get in random loot drops. I found this made side quests less compelling, as I rarely got anything particularly useful out of them that I couldn’t find by just wandering around. Though I do like that each named area in the game comes with a checklist for every major loot cache to find in it. This makes it very easy to tell when you’ve finished clearing out an area.

As for the Switch port itself, it isn’t the prettiest, but it is solid from a performance standpoint. The Switch targets thirty frames-per-second and generally maintains this goal. The exception being brief traversal stutters when moving quickly through the open-world. This appears to be caused by chunks of the world loading in, but it's never for more than a brief moment. I was also occasionally able to get some slowdown in large combat encounters, but for the most part, even these held up well. All that being said, the cutbacks are pretty aggressive to achieve this. The original release of Biomutant is actually a pretty nice looking game. The Switch version looks pretty rough by comparison. Foliage has been pulled back hugely, which has a significant effect on the look of the open-world. Screen-space reflections are missing from large bodies of water. The depth of field effect is missing from combat encounters. Perhaps most of all, texture resolution is pretty bad. None of the environmental textures hold up to inspection. On the other hand, there are some nice features that have been preserved. A well implemented pass of temporal anti-aliasing ensures a clean and reasonably sharp image. This is helped along by a sharpening filter which can be freely adjusted in the options menu. Screen-space ambient occlusion is still in effect which really helps in more enclosed areas to fill in corners with shade. Speaking of shade, real time dynamic shadows from the sun and moon are still active, albeit at a low resolution. Most importantly, fur shades are still present on every character. They aren’t as high quality as they are on other systems, but they still generally look nice, and have a huge effect on the visual identity of the game.

Biomutant is one of those games that isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Even the people like me who enjoy it, won’t argue that it's flawless. But it is an ambitious game, developed by a small team that is happy to try new things and take risks. Biomutant is one of those AA games you would have picked up on the Playstation 2 and absolutely loved as a kid. When you return to it as an adult, it may not hold up that well, but the underlying things you loved about it would shine through. This is that sort of low budget experiment that we so rarely see these days, and I can’t help but enjoy it. Beneath its flaws is an interesting open-world action RPG that manages to hold up fairly well on Switch.

Offline Lemonade

  • A True Gaming Hero
  • *
  • Score: 14
    • View Profile
Re: Biomutant (Switch) Review
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2024, 09:07:28 AM »
I played the Xbox One version of Biomutant. Its kind of an odd RPG, but I liked it. Good to know the Switch version turned out ok