By Adele Chapline Smith | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — “Biomutant” (THQ Nordic) is an action role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic society. Players inhabit an animal warrior who has the opportunity either to save the world or destroy it.
Sometimes gory mayhem as well as scatological humor make this mediocre title an unsuitable choice for kids, though older adolescents may take it in stride.
The “Tree of Life” has been struck by a natural disaster and the soil surrounding it has become poisonous. The six tribes who benefit from the tree are torn between healing it or taking advantage of the chaos resulting from its demise to expand their own power and territory. Its fate and that of the game’s whole environment thus rest in the player’s hands.
The main character, who resembles a cross between a racoon and a cat, works with the tribes to attain his alternate goals of peace or conquest. Those with whom he interacts can be influenced through the “karma” system, by which they can be persuaded to ally themselves with him.
Given the high stakes, the narrative adopts a curiously indifferent stance toward which path the gamer chooses to pursue. While saving the tree is clearly the moral option, players are in no way penalized for allowing it to perish instead. Granted that a renewed cycle of life afterward is hinted at, the universal extinction gamers can bring about is, nonetheless, treated far too lightly.
The combat isn’t excessively graphic. But it is accompanied by sounds of pain and stylized images of blood.
“Biomutant” also contains some distasteful material. At one point, for instance, the sui generis mammal players control finds itself being expelled from a larger creature’s behind. Another character is seen relieving himself on a signpost.
As the title suggests, the protagonist can change his abilities through mutations or biomechanical upgrades. He also has access to special tools like air balloons, jet skis or gas masks.
Gun mechanics, however, feel tedious, especially because good weapons are only found much later in the game. The inability to aim down sights, moreover, will frustrate those aspiring to good marksmanship.
Clocking in with about 20 hours of gameplay and very little replayability, “Biomutant” is neither a classic nor a complete flop. If allowed to purchase it by their parents, mature teens, like their elders, will find it a middling experience not entirely worth the asking price.
Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Windows.
The game contains restrained violence with mild blood effects and considerable crass humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T — teen.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.