Posted on 07 Sep 2017 by Kyle Johnson

PAX West 2017: Biomutant

The Defence

Developer: Experiment 101
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Action
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

Minimum
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 2.6 GHz
AMD Phenom II X4 3.2 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 780
AMD Radeon R9 280
RAM: 4 GB
HDD: 10 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: Unknown
FOV Slider: Unknown
FPS Lock: Unknown

It’s not every day that you’re a mutating fox-like creature hacking and shooting his way across a post-apocalyptic landscape. But when you are, you’re likely in Experiment 101’s Biomutant. Announced in the weeks leading up to Gamescom and shown off at PAX West, I had a chance to talk to Oliver Bolt about distancing Biomutant from its initial impressions, designing good boss fights, and crafting a world without humans.

Immediately I was struck by how acrobatic and slick the combat felt. The game was very much so still in a pre-alpha state, with placeholder skills, animations and UI, but even so, Biomutant reminds me of the acrobatics of Devil May Cry. Doing a long slide makes the fox rapid-fire his weapons at enemies in his path, the double jump lock-on sets up some beautiful aerial combos, and there’s a satisfying heft to the weaponry.

Even without humans, life goes on.

When I asked him about crafting great combat, he said that the team didn’t want to make just another indie Dark Souls game. There’s something to be said for throwing increasingly complex enemies at you in combat arenas of various sizes, which the demo of Biomutant did. Stacking up one beefy barrel-throwing monster with around six or eight little minions means you can’t adopt a tactical approach to combat. Not only that, but using the roll, the double jump, and linking together attack patterns and abilities feels good, even in this early state.

Experiment 101 is well aware of Biomutant’s initial airs, too. While it may not be easy to distance itself from the “Dark Souls but furry” look, the team is confident that with the action and visuals taking center stage, people will move past their initial reservations. Combining both the realistic models with the Viewtiful Joe-style sound effects only serves to further contrast the visuals with the story too. While Experiment 101 was tight-lipped about any real details, placing Biomutant in a world without any humans frees them to focus on putting its animals in real danger.

Much of the content shown off within the demo was placeholder, but still engaging. There were four abilities shown off, ranging from shooting lightning from your fingertips to growing mushrooms to jump off of. Though I was awarded with these powers quickly and liberally, I could easily see and make use of them in the demo as designed.

Not only that, but there were hints of a rather deep weapon crafting system as well. With players having access to both a melee and ranged weapon, by crafting, you can turn your mid-range broadsword into a high-damage short-range knife. Again, this system was rudimentary, and while we only had the option to randomize the weapon parts, it bodes well for the future.

Go places, meet people.

Near the end of the demo, a massive, howling, three-headed beast shows up before the demo cuts to a pre-rendered reel, obviously hinting at an upcoming boss. I asked Oliver about what made for a good boss fight, especially after taking inspiration from other action RPGs. He replied saying that while fights should be difficult and memorable, there’s always the challenge of making bosses also fun. He hopes that people who play Biomutant will find bosses fun too.

Even as a surprise addition and announcement coming from Experiment 101 and THQ Nordic, there’s a lot to keep our eyes on here. With a consistent sense of style and letting influence seep in from a well-loved series like Devil May Cry, Experiment 101 might well have something special on their hands with Biomutant. The release may still be a ways off, but it’ll be something to watch for.

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