Biomutant (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Chris Leebody 14.05.2024

Review for Biomutant on Nintendo Switch

Biomutant originally debuted back on last-gen consoles in 2021 before an enhanced version was released for PS5 and Xbox Series in 2022. The action-role playing game features an open world with the protagonist a customisable rodent-like creature in a post-apocalyptic world in which mutated creatures roam free. Biomutant is developed by Swedish developer Experiment 101, with many of the team behind the Just Cause series on board involved in the title. Now bringing a port to the Nintendo Switch with the Mercenary Class Loadout DLC included in the package, the game is available now both in physical copy and on the Nintendo eShop. Read on to find out how it holds up on Switch.

It's been a little bit of a wait for Biomutant to finally arrive on Nintendo Switch having initially been delayed from the initial slated release in November last year. Finally, a Switch port arrives - set in an Earth devastated by climate disaster and pollution. What is born however is New World, dominated by weird and wonderful creatures, including the furry rodent variety of the nameless protagonist.

However, things are certainly not all rosy here, with the New World's Tree-of-Life, the natural heartbeat of the land that supplies life to all things, under threat of control by the various tribes which make up the land. It's the job of said nameless protagonist to determine the destiny of the world.

Nameless is a very deliberate move here and pretty much sets the theme for Biomutant, which kicks off the very first screen by allowing that protagonist to be customised in a wide variety of ways.

From picking a class which determines a whole host of stats and combat styles, to adjusting body shape which is not simply cosmetic but again determines everything from health, strength and speed - customisation is at the heart of what Experiment 101 are trying to do with this experience.

That extends to the world building itself which is very interesting - at least on the surface. While Biomutant has the usual open-world fare of doing tasks, exploring and unlocking new weapons and abilities, the attempt to carve out a unique niche is done in the core story involving the player visiting the variety of tribes scattered across the world and either siding with them in their quest to destroy the Tree-of-Life or save it.

There's dialogue choices and an exploration of the history of the main character in a bid to give them some added backstory and a decent variety of biomes across the world for exploration.

Screenshot for Biomutant on Nintendo Switch

Therefore, on the surface it seems like a really inventive basis for an open world game and it is a setting that has so much scope for interest. However, beyond that illusion of choice and branching story, sadly Biomutant tends to ultimately devolve into the usual busywork tasks that often dog most open-world games.

Indeed, the most fun experiences Cubed3 had during the adventure was going off the beaten path and exploring the world where there is certainly plenty of fun to be had in gathering loot, crafting new weapons, leveling up the character and taking on cool monster fights.

Interestingly, the entire narrative is told through the voice of an omnipresent narrator. It's a concept seen in a number of other titles in recent years and it has its ups and downs. Get the narrator right, and it can be an effective way of directly engaging with the audience through the fourth wall and carving out an interesting new dynamic.

However, get it wrong - and Biomutant tends to fall slightly more on this side - and it just starts to get a bit monotonous. The narrator is engaging and even witty at times but is too often repetitive and the fact they are the effective voice and by extension personality of every character in the world, ultimately drains a lot of the other characters from having their own set personality.


 

Where Biomutant shines is undoubtedly in the combat system based on an amalgamation of real-world fighting styles called 'Wung-fu'. The system fairly successfully mixes a bit of Souls-like timing, dodging and blocking with a more fluid and accessible combo mechanic, spliced together with gunplay and magic in the form of the bio powers.

Combat is interesting and dynamic with lots of colour and pizzazz, as comic-book style phrases pop up as the protagonist zips around firing shots and smashing enemies. The ability to switch between gunplay and melee styles is very engaging and combat really opens up nicely as the adventure develops and new combos and powers are unlocked which keep it feeling fresh across the approximately 13 hours of main story content.

Screenshot for Biomutant on Nintendo Switch

If there was a criticism when it comes to combat and movement it is that it feels a little floaty at times whereas other competitors are often marked out by their tight and responsive movement.

A common experience during combat was being hit by an enemy attack, not due to a user mistake, but due to trying to execute combos while navigating the camera on the right stick and pressing jump to dash around the battlefield. Adding to this feeling is that often encounters will be against larger enemies who tend to act a bit like the metaphorical bullet sponge - soaking up hits without flinching or registering those hits and the appropriate feedback as a result. It dampens what is otherwise the title's main selling point.

Naturally given Biomutant has bravely stepped down the lower graphical ladder onto Switch, some compromises have been made when it comes to the technical side of things.

Starting with the positive, the main character design holds up well despite the technical limitations of the console. The mammal protagonist looks very quirky and interesting with the wide variety of customisable aspects making it really pop.

A lot of the other main characters in the story also share this attention to detail and the character design is generally very pleasing, really making use of the interesting setting of the world to craft these unique creatures and their many mutations which all take their inspirations from various cultures around the world.

There is also generally a very nice colour range throughout the world, with the enemies and characters all very vibrant and distinctive. It means despite the compromises on performance, characters don't get lost among the sometimes-blander environments impacted by the technical limitations.

Unique to Switch, gyroscope-controls are supported on the console to add to the gun aiming and increase immersion.

Screenshot for Biomutant on Nintendo Switch

From a purely technical standpoint Biomutant on the Nintendo Switch falters somewhat. In handheld mode it runs at 30fps (frames per second) at 720p resolution and a dynamic resolution. Meanwhile docked the game targets a 1080p resolution - which is also dynamic - again at 30fps.

While disappointing that 60fps wasn't achievable given the greatly scaled down visuals, it was at least pleasing that for most play time it generally solid at 30fps despite the large open areas. On occasions when there are a number of enemies around the action can dip slightly, but it's never too detrimental.

While the New World setting suffers compared to its other console and PC counterparts with worse lighting, noticeable pop in and reduced assets, it isn't necessarily anything we haven't seen before when it comes to Switch ports.

It would be unfair to expect standout graphical presentation on Switch given the limitations of the system. That said there are some undeniable and arguably fixable issues visually with Biomutant.

The biggest immediately visible problem is the apparent mismatch in quality between various textures across the world. For example, most tree textures look relatively high quality, but a quick twist of the camera exposes noticeably worse ground textures. It's impossible not to pick up on it and it sticks out badly.

Given there are lots of objects and environmental art that is of a much higher quality, it would be great if this could be improved somewhat in a post launch patch.

Also noticeable on the visual front are the shadows, which seem to almost have a constant low-resolution warbling on the ground. This issue appears to be as a result of the game's dynamic time of day system, which required a complicated shadow system be ported to Switch.

When it comes to open world titles on Switch, it's hard not to compare everything to Zelda and both Tears of the Kingdom and even Breath of the Wild which handle aspects like shadow quality and lighting in a much better way despite their similar limitations given the console.

Despite those technical issues, the biggest issue is honestly just that the world feels a little empty and devoid of life. There is a lot of open space which feels underused. Even the villages and settlements are unusually quiet. It's an intriguing setting and basis for this story, and it seems a shame it doesn't fully utilise it. Compared again to the above Zelda titles Biomutant misses the mark in this aspect.

Screenshot for Biomutant on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Biomutant is very far from a bad game and getting something of this scope ported to the Nintendo Switch in a very playable state - as seen from other ports over the years - is credit to the technical knowhow and adaptiveness of the development team at Experiment 101. There are a lot of interesting mechanics going on, from the focus on an entirely customisable character and the crafting and loot system, to the exploration in this unique setting. While performance is generally acceptable however, the graphics are undoubtedly rough round the edges and things like shadows, pop-in and inconsistent textures spoil what is otherwise a decent enough presentation. Adding to this, while the world is varied in its locales, the emptiness of the setting does much to break immersion and despite the illusion of choice many of the quests ultimately boil down to the mundane.

Developer

Experiment 101

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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