PAX AUS 2019: Biomutant is every bit as bizarre as I hoped it would be

Credit: Experiment 101

Experiment 101’s Biomutant has been one of those bizarre games that shows up at tradeshow after tradeshow but never actually seems any closer to release. 

Announced in 2017, the game is still officially slated for launch in 2019 but with no formal release date in sight it seems unclear whether it’ll actually hit that date. Nevertheless, the game made an appearance at this year’s PAX Australia and I couldn’t wait to jump in and spend some time hands-on with the game. 

Pitched as a post-apocalyptic kung-fu action RPG from some of the team behind the Just Cause games, Biomutant sees you play a character that I can only describe as Geralt of Rivia crossed with Rocket Raccoon. It wasn’t clear whether the game’s progroganist has a specific name or identity but they certainly have an eye-catching design. You can also customise their look, which proved to be surprisingly fun in its own right. 

Credit: Experiment 101

You can change your character’s gender (which is always encouraging) and investing skill points has a very visible impact on your character. For example, a heavy Intelligence-specced build will cause your character’s head to inflate in size - which isn’t exactly something you see from the character creation tech in stuff like Skyrim or Mass Effect. 

Once we had rolled our character, the demo threw us straight into the action. In terms of the setting, comparisons to last year’s Mutant: Year Zero wouldn’t be unfounded. Biomutant’s furry anthropomorphised Mad Max aesthetic comes across as very similar. 

Our demo didn’t really shed much light on the big picture in Biomutant. It was pretty much entirely combat focused. We fought through one group of enemies. Then another. Then another. 

Initially we were equipped with a wicked-looking longsword and we found ourselves dashing around. The controls weren’t super intuitive but there wasn’t a single button on the unorthodox controller at the demo stand that I was disappointed by in combat. 

Credit: Experiment 101

Brawling in Biomutant felt was a blitz from the word go. It felt chaotic in the best possible way and almost akin to something like a fighting game in spots. It’s also very fast-paced in a way that reminded me of games like Bayonetta. 

Even when the animations sometimes clipped and a bit of the game’s European jank sometimes made itself known, it was still an absolute riot to play. 

The sword wasn’t the only combat mechanic the demo let us play around with. We also encountered a Doomfist-esque rocket gauntlet that let us throw otherwise-locked doors off their hinges and a special ability that projected a soaplike bubble around ourselves. 

Credit: Experiment 101

Once encased in our orb, Biomutant took a turn for the Katamari. The game let us able to bounce up to inaccessible areas, roll down foes and trap them on the outer surface of our bubble. It was weird, unexpected and a lot of fun.

With all the silence surrounding the development of Biomutant, I was a little worried that some of the title’s strangeness might have been sanded down in the name of mass appeal. My PAX demo put those fears at ease. 

This is gonna be a weird one, folks.

Biomutant is due to release in 2019 on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.

Disclosure - Samsung covered the cost of our flights and accommodation for PAX Australia 2019.

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Fergus Halliday
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