Biomutant — Cognitive Accessibility Review

Transcript

What’s up everybody, welcome back. I’ve got another cognitive accessibility review for you today. We are taking a look at Biomutant by Swedish developers Experiment 101, courtesy of THQ Nordic.

I usually review on Xbox Series X, but this code provided was a PC code so just keep in mind that some of these settings may only apply to PC players. If there is anything on here that’s different to console, please do let me know in the comments as I am primarily an Xbox player, let me know because I would love to see how they compare.

This is a game I remember being really excited about when it was announced, I remember seeing the trailer and being like “oh my god this looks so cute” but it’s a game I haven’t actually heard a whole lot about in recent months so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

As always, this is a cognitive accessibility review so I’ll be touching on areas of accessibility that involve the brain. If you want to learn more please feel free to check out my Cognitive Accessibility 101 video.

Biomutant is an open world action RPG where you play as a cute furry-looking animal dude, equipped with melee weapons, ranged weapons and Wung Fu powers. The world is a luscious post-apocalyptic setting where it’s your job to heal the Tree of Life and unite the tribes across the land or not if you choose to do so – there’s a lot of choice in this game and many directions the story can take, so I’m really excited to see how my game plays out.

It’s not easy to make an RPG with this many systems accessible to new players or players with cognitive difficulties and although I did feel kind of overwhelmed at times, Biomutant did such a good job of teaching me as we went along one concept at a time, having multiple places to remind myself of the important information, I felt pretty good about it.

The journal is great – you can read back dialogue, see all of your quest info, there’s a tutorial section where you can remind yourself of how things work which is awesome. The only thing that it was missing for me was something like a controller map that let me quickly see what all my buttons did because I did find myself forgetting quite a bit at the beginning and having to dig through the tutorial menu to look at each move individually, it was more time consuming than if I just had an image I could quickly check out.

A big green tick comes up when you’ve proven that you’ve learned the move the game is showing you before moving on and there are often prompts that come up when special moves are available It’s a good two hours or so of tutorial before the game opens up but it was necessary – There is a lot to take on board in this game. But, everything was taught through exploration and quests and flashback scenes, never really felt boring or sterile like some tutorials do. It felt really properly integrated into the game and it was really enjoyable.

And honestly, you don’t have to engage in the stuff that you don’t want to in order to play the game. If you don’t want to memorize all the special move combinations and get super into the deep crafting and messing around with mutations and perks, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but players that are super into that stuff can, so it truly feels like a game where players of all levels can craft their own experience and I freaking love that.

There are three difficulty levels: easy, medium and hard. It’s not really explained what these difficulty modes affect but I’ve been having a good time on medium and it feels pretty well balanced for me. I assume the difficulty affects things like combat and health but it would be pretty good to know in order to make an informed decision. I don’t think there are any kind of puzzle assists and I’m not sure if puzzles differ between difficulty levels? That said, you can change the difficulty at any point in the game via the menu.

The game has its own accessibility menu which includes subtitle customization, the option to auto advance dialogues (or not, which is really great for players who need a little more time to read and process information) and there’s also an option to auto complete quicktime events, which also includes any button mashing.

Subtitle customisation includes three sizes, the ability to change the colour of the text and the option to pop a background on and adjust the opacity which we love to see.

I always feel like having a separate accessibility menu can be a little bit misleading because I personally need access to options in all of the menus in order to play the game because…

All options are accessibility options!

I’m keen to get to a place where accessibility isn’t covered as a separate other thing, detached from everything else and it’s just built into inclusive design but that’s a rant for another time.

There’s a bunch of good anti-motion sickness settings in various menus – you can adjust the field of view and the camera shake which is great, however I really would have liked to be able to adjust the camera acceleration in the game because it did make me feel a bit queasy at points.

You can adjust the HUD scale which I love to see and it’s a pretty decent size whacked all the way up, which is awesome. The quest markers are high contrast and easy to pick out against the background, and the things that you can interact with have a white circle that displays when you get close to it. There are big colourful comic book style indicators when your gun needs reloading, indicators above enemies heads when they’re about to strike, and you can turn this on or off in the menus if you don’t dig them as much as I do. I really like the UI in this game a lot.

Honestly, I was so surprised at this game and how well they’ve done, especially with the onboarding process and teaching you the ropes of a game that does have such deep systems.

The fact that this incredibly deep RPG was created by a studio of less than 20 people is mind-blowing to me. It’s incredible, it’s such a good game and there was such a lot of consideration to accessibility in this one and I’m so grateful for that because I’m really enjoying it. It’s cute!

Let me know your thoughts and feelings about Biomutant in the comments. Thank you for watching and I will see you next time. Bye!

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Stacey
JenkinsWorkshop Developer and FacilitatorShe/They

Stacey works with Can I Play That? to develop valuable training for game developers to ensure that all content is inclusive and accessible for the whole community. With fibromyalgia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Stacey has ‘pain brain’ which affects her cognitive function when it comes to gaming. She has used her own personal experience to consult on cognitive accessibility and to educate others on topics such as diversity and inclusion, life as a disabled streamer, and accessibility in gaming. Stacey has spoken at multiple TwitchCons, the wonderful GAconf, and has spoken at GDC 2021 with Courtney, delivering a special version of their a11y workshop. An aspiring assassin and lover of all things spooky, Stacey loves stealth, horror, and the occasional cozy game. Okay, a lot of cozy games.

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