It’s the end of the (post-apocalyptic) world as we know it
Think post-apocalypse, and your mind undoubtedly conjures up images of bleak, barren wastelands in every shade of grey and brown. With BioMutant, Swedish developer Experiment 101 is combating the stereotype that a prerequisite for a world gone to ruin is an abundance of bleak visuals and sombre tones. But its rich and vibrant colour palette isn’t the only thing that sets this open-world action RPG apart from the crowd.
As we step into the adorable paws of a furry creature that could be Ratchet’s distant relative, we’re instantly impressed with the level of freedom on offer. Detailed customisation options allow you to tailor your character’s physical appearance. The choices you make also affect your base stats – for instance, a smaller mammal may have less health but will be faster on his (or her) feet.
Beginning in a lush green forest, a diverging path instantly presents us with a choice. This is more significant than merely deciding a route through the foliage, however: the yin-yang symbol indicates it’s a karma opportunity. The left option is the path of darkness (the dialogue highlighted by a red background, in case we were in any doubt), while the right (blue) path offers us a chance to build up some good karma. We’re told that dialogue choices will have an effect on relationships with the world’s oddball inhabitants, and key decisions will result in different endings.
CUTE TO KILL
Exiting the area, we’re confronted with our first enemy. He’s surprisingly large and menacing for an initial encounter, and we quickly learn the value of the dodge button ( e). Battles are a satisfying mix of shooting ( w) and hefty melee attacks ( r). More devastating blows can be triggered by holding down o. When using guns, this causes our character to toss his weapons like deadly boomerangs. Adopting a mix of bullets and sword strikes, we whittle down the hulking beast’s health. A mid-air melee attack is enough to sever his wooden weapon, but he quickly regains the advantage, coming back for round two with a mighty flail. We’re warned that this encounter is beyond our means, so we make a hasty getaway through a hole in a nearby structure.
Scattered throughout the environment are boxes containing useful items like electric bullets, and what appears to be junk. Later, when we stumble upon a crafting bench, the reason why we’re carrying a virtual junkyard around becomes clear. The various components we’ve found can be used to craft new weapons, with customisation options ranging in the thousands. Using our collected parts, we construct an electrified melee weapon, sticking rusty nails on the end for maximum devastation. Both firearms and melee weapons can be of the one-handed or two-handed variety, the crafting options reinforcing the sense of player-created freedom that emanates from every aspect.
One of BioMutant’s most intriguing facets is the mutation system. This grants you new abilities that aid in combat. The first we acquire enables us to unleash a group of moths at our unsuspecting enemies, whipping them into a frenzy. Telekinesis adds some strategy to proceedings; when faced with a towering, shield-bearing foe, we best him by tossing some nearby barrels and using our guns to make them go boom. Mutations can also be helpful for traversing the environment. Utilising the Fungai ability, we deploy mushrooms to allow us to reach higher ledges and hidden areas.
With proficient combat and intriguing mutations, Experiment 101 is already onto a winning formula. Then there’s the promise of a freedom-filled open world, and crazy vehicles – like a mechanical severed hand that shoots out its fingers – with which to explore it. Colour us very excited.