Biomutant is a post-apocalypse of the grotesquely cute kind, coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2018. You play as an extremely customizable, um… mammal? Whatever you are, it definitely has a lot of fur, whether in the standard earthy tones or with a nice toxic green coat and neon pink stripes. Instead of choosing from a list of stats, you determine how quick, strong, or durable your furry little varmint is by sliding around a body type chart: durable bulk, speedy slightness, and so on. You can choose to play as a boy or a girl squirrel(?), which just seems to affect what kind of voice occasionally babbles out little bits of animal-ese gibberish. An ever-present narrator takes care of most of the talking, whether it be cheering you on in battle or translating your conversations with NPCs.
After my ferret(?) took shape, we went for a quick stroll through the jungle, making a few pop-up choices along the way to determine the beginnings of her karma. Yep, there’s a good/bad morality system – but it’ll feed into a larger world that reacts to more than just the dialogue options you choose. Our rumination on post-apocalyptic ethics was interrupted by an encounter with the giant, angry-looking beast from the trailer. I had assumed the slow-motion stunts in the pre-rendered video were just there for show, but nope! Jumping into the air and pressing the gun button made my scrappy little pup(?) pull a John Woo-f and pepper the giant with auto-targeted, bullet-time gunfire. A quick slide between the beast’s legs and she was in position for a powerful backstab with her oversized sword.
Fighting felt good, but you’ve probably played plenty of games that mix gunplay and melee combat. Biomutant stands apart thanks to just how weird the eponymous mutations let you get. For example, the first power I unlocked was called ‘Moth Mouth’, which let my vole(?) belch swarms of moths into her enemies’ faces to confuse them. I mean, I’d be pretty confused if a cute little chinchilla(?) burped moths into my face. These are some especially nasty moths she’s breeding in her mouth, because they even make bad guys attack each other, spreading the swarm as they go. Another power let her instantly grow giant, springy mushrooms in front of her, good for both setting up aerial attacks and leaping into otherwise inaccessible areas. Other mutations conferred more typical powers, like telekinesis and definitely-not-Sith finger lightning.
Still not enough opportunities to do your own weird thing? Ok. Biomutant lets you collect weapon parts to craft strange new implements of destruction for your stoat(?) to wield: I hit the randomize button until I saw a chunk of concrete with a screwdriver sticking out, attached to a knuckle duster handle for superior ergonomics. I’m not really sure how to describe the gun I crafted, aside from noting that it made a godawful racket. It killed the Mork baddies real nice anyway, especially after I attached a toxic vial to make its bullets poisonous.
Near the end of my demo, I helped a wheelchair-bound mouse fight off a gang of furry aggressors. In exchange, he told me about a very big problem at the heart of Biomutant’s world: the Tree-of-Life is dying, and the disparate tribes of beasts can’t save it themselves. The heroic thing to do would be to kill the monsters that plague each of the Tree’s five roots and save everyone (except the monsters).
But you can do something else, too. Once the tutorial ends, the world of Biomutant opens up and you’re free to travel around as you like. You might help one tribe and oppose another, based on their respective karmic leanings, and take away the appropriate rewards (apparently the turtle tribe can teach you stupendously powerful slow-mo kung fu moves). Or you might decide that this gooey new world is beyond saving, and that it’s your gerbil’s (?) solemn duty to kill the Tree-of-Life and cause the end of days.
Did I mention that you mark your territory in Biomutant’s open world by literally pissing on it? And that you can make friends with a furry little mechanic who will build a giant robot suit for you to fight in (which, sadly, was not in the demo)? And that your character travels with a cute little robot cricket who seems to know more about this weird place than it’s letting on? Yeah. Biomutant is a very weird game with some incredible ambitions, but most importantly, it’s already a lot of fun to play… assuming you can ever stop making strange new mammalian life forms in the character creator.