“Kinda bug and kinda snack
Try to catch ’em in your trap
Feed somebody and you’ll see
We are whatever we eat”
These aren’t just the lyrics to the ultra catchy theme song, it’s the motif of the entire game. Chicago based developer Young Horses has crafted such an experience that I can hardly think of good comparisons for it. The closest I can think of is a mixture of Viva Pinata and Pokemon Snap. Bugsnax is the second game Young Horses has made, releasing 6 years after their previous effort, Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Bugsnax is available now on PS4, PS5, and PC through the Epic Games Store.
Our tale begins with you, a journalist, getting invited to a strange isle populated by a previously undiscovered species of half bug/ half snacks creatures by a controversial explorer named Elizbert Megafig. The Protagonist gets chewed out by their editor before deciding to go to Snaktooth island regardless to pursue the story. Once you get there you quickly discover Megafig is missing and her explorer group has broken up in her absence. Over the 8-10 hours it takes to complete the game you will reunite the dozen or so Snaktooth island explorers and scan and capture Bugsnax across various locals on the island. You even get to use your journalistic expertise to interview all the island inhabitants to figure out what the Bugsnax are and what happened to make everybody separate before your arrival.
Gameplay revolves around you exploring Snaktooth Island in first person and using various instruments to capture the different Bugsnax in the different biomes. When you enter a different Section of the map, you click R3 to access your camera which scopes out the Bugsnax in your line of sight giving you a brief description with a bit of likes/ dislikes that helps you plot attacks. Hunting Bugsnax starts simple with just a placeable bug trap but the further along you get you’ll find yourself combining different tools to capture some of the more particular Snax. You also gain a number of other useful tools such as a tripshot that knocks out anything that crosses its path. A strabby in a hamster ball that helps you lure other Bugsnax into traps if coated in a sauce they prefer. Like Viva Pinata, you will need to approach every encounter differently before approaching the Bugsnax because they will all respond to different stimuli and the manner of capture is different. For a handful of Bugsnax I had to google the process of capturing because I had spent 20+ minutes trying everything without success only to read I missed a really obvious key thing such as luring over a nearby frost powered Bugsnax to cancel out the burning effect of the Bugsnax I was trying to capture. Playing on PS5 vs PS4 will be an interesting comparison mostly because the PS5 is hypercharged compared to its older sibling so loading in- between zones isn’t too bad usually under 10 seconds each section on PS4 that time is a bit longer around 30 seconds and in the endgame you usually have to run between 2-4 zones to hunt for certain Bugsnax as side quest requests. PS5 users also get easily accessible trophy help at their fingertips which was invaluable in some of the harder hunts.
Aftera few side quests and Bugsnax you can get each inhabitant back to Snaxburg to interview them and after that they wander around interacting with each other in a strangely human way. Strange only because everyone you interact with is a Grumpus, which resembles a muppet like creature with a flappy mouth and all. These human aspects helped me get deeply entrenched in the relationships/ happenings of Snaktooth. And the best part is they were all optional. I could choose to help Beffica the town Gossip expert spy on the fellow inhabitants or just ignore it all together. I loved capturing Bugsnax to give to Wambus the local farmer in hopes he could attempt to cultivate more Snax to keep the town afloat even if ultimately none of that mattered for nothing other than a method to get him to delve more into his background.
Audio and Presentation: Every Grumpus and Bugsnax is lovingly voiced. I watched a Launch party interview with the cast and everyone talked about how much they loved embodying their character and it really shows in game. Each character is wholly unique in its look and the characterizations. The PS5 remote also has a speaker on it that plays back the sound of whichever Bugsnax you just caught. I loved hearing the Snax pronounce their names as they entered my inventory similar to pokemon. The Background music is also fantastic from the moment you find Filbo. I would occasionally find myself just wandering around the level so I could indulge in the moment.
For Parents whose kids ask to play this game is as cute and cheerful as it seems. I played this around my family and we all picked our own favorite Bugsnax and would call out the names of the Bugsnax like the creatures do in the game. I’m partial to Bunger, a Burger with curly fries as limbs. Towards the end of the game the story ramps up and the story takes dramatically it even takes a bit of a nefarious left turn. Nothing is as it seems and you end up having to defend your island friends using the skills you’ve had to patiently perfect a lot quicker than you’re used to and if you fail and lose even a single friend you watch them die and get the bad ending. So depending on age this would be a game id suggest supervision for even though it’s mostly not needed.
In Conclusion, Bugsnax is a fantastic game combining aspects of Pokemon snap and Viva Pinata. Fans of Octodad: Dadliest Catch or anyone who caught the PS5 Reveal trailer will enjoy this game as long as they keep their expectations in check. The story is unique if cliched in certain bits, adults and kids along will both enjoy their time with this, just watchout the last mission might end up as nightmare fuel. If you have PS+ and a PS5 you would be a fool if you don’t add this to your library while its free for anyone else it’s still worth the price of admission. After All Everyones talking’ bout Bugsnax!
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