So Biomutant is a boring game that survives on some modicum of charm. This is an RPG in which you can leap from your grotesque horse, summon a ball of mucus around yourself to roll up your enemies with, ‘detonate’ the mucus to send them flying, and finish with a slow-motion Max Payne-esque volley of electric bullets from a gun with a trumpet horn for a muzzle. It should be brilliant, gonzo fun. It’s tragic, then, that hollow progression and an incessant narrator suck out so much of the joy.
Biomutant feels like it’s going to be much more, but in practice it’s an endless stream of new ideas that go nowhere and beautiful, toxic landscapes with little to offer except an excuse to use photo mode. It’s especially disappointing because Biomutant’s optimistic vision of the post-apocalypse is a refreshing take on the end times, with a weasel dressed like Elvis for every fascist cannibal emperor in Fallout. But if you strip out the gangly, affable muppets, all that’s left is a broken open-world RPG with little else to discover except another cheap riff on the same color-matching puzzle. At least it looks amazing.
LIFE AFTER DEATH
Biomutant imagines the worst-case scenario for mankind: Total eradication from pollution, late-late-capitalist greed, and exploitation, war—it’s a who’s who of the biggest bummers. But it also depicts a vibrant world teeming with life after we’re gone. Even though there’s another apocalypse on the way, it’s embraced with curiosity and inevitability by most of Earth’s future fur citizens, from a hulking chef who only aspires to make the tastiest food possible to a mousy fashionista who wants everyone to freely express themselves before the end of the world.
I respect stories that give the void a warm hug, so I’m surprised how much the narration and writing made me wish Biomutant’s world ended yesterday. David Shaw Parker’s performance as the omnipotent narrator isn’t bad, but his saccharine tone clashes with the fragmented English in the writing.
Every conversation opens with a few seconds of cute mutant gibberish, after which Parker reads the text I’ve already skimmed in the same indulgent full-throated tone and primitive syntax, no matter the context.
Simple sentences take a couple of seconds to decrypt because every other word is replaced with a complicated compound. “That’s a Pling-plong-booth from the by-gone, back when you needed to cable words via buzz-wire instead of air-waving them” instead of ‘People used to stand in boxes to talk’. When Parker reads these lines aloud I feel like I’m being mocked. It’s horrible.
It’s a case of subtraction by addition, a performance that washes over and homogenizes the impressive breadth and creativity in the mutant models, and glazes their surface-level allegory with lethal levels of pomp and circumstance. Biomutant’s beautiful world is much better off speaking for itself.
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