With every new console launch you have the ‘heavy hitters’. Big Zelda games, Halo, and even Spider-Man games. However with every console launch you also get a few unusual indie titles that launch alongside it. And one that really caught my eye was BugSnax. Developed by Young Horses, which you may remember from Octodad, the game looked extremely unique when it was shown off at the PlayStation event just a few months ago.
With an appealing art style, interesting premise and excellent theme song, BugSnax had me very intrigued. So it was really good to see that the game would be available at launch with the PlayStation 5. It’s also free on PlayStation Plus! With this in mind I just had to try it. And after completing Bugsnax I can confidently say that the game is incredibly weird, charming, and an all-round good time .
Bugsnax has you play as a journalist looking for his next big story. You receives a film strip in the mail from an explorer named Elizabert Megafig . In the film strip she talks about this mysterious ‘Snake Tooth Island’ and describes the BugSnax. They are half bug and half snacks and right off the bat you know something truly weird is going on here. After falling off your ship on the way to the island you come across Filbo, Elizabert’s assistant. He explains that Miss Megafig is missing and her support staff have scattered. Now it’s up to you to get everyone back together in Snaxburg.
The premise is incredibly weird, strange, and satisfying for the most part. While it does start out like a wholesome great time you come to find out that some Elizabert’s people are struggling to survive on this island and most of the characters are generally hostile to each other. And so getting them back into the village to safely live together might be a harder task than first imagined.
The characters are superbly written and voice acted and are wholly unique. Each one has such a distinct personality and the characters are the highlight of the entire game. I can say though that the story progresses nicely and by the end of the game it takes some really surprising turns. Everything related to the story of BugSnax is enjoyable and is one of the driving points of the game. The game even has some quite progressive themes thrown in to spice things up as well.
But how does the game play with such an odd premise? The game is a first person adventure game that sees the player capturing the BugSnax in a variety of different ways, solving puzzles and feeding said BugSnax to its inhabitants which transform their bodies based on the properties of the BugSnax they ate. Ultimately capturing the BugSnax comes down to solving puzzles.
Throughout the game you are given various traps to capture these BugSnax and you’ll have to use the most of your environment to succeed. Some puzzles are as simple as placing a trap and waiting for the creature to walk over. Others are more complex, requiring the use of bait and stunning mechanics before you can wrangle the creature. And towards the end of the game some of the BugSnax require multiple steps and other BugSnaxs to capture. But once you capture one you can then go to any of the NPC‘s in the game and feed them the BugSnax. Feeding them will change their looks drastically and can easily lead to nightmare fuel. But the NPCs seem to love their new horrific look.
Check out some of the BugSnax yourself! I’m not sure if I’m creeped out or getting a bit hungry.
Most of the games structure is based on a semi-open environment and doing quests for the characters. These quests are always to catch a specific BugSnax and feed it to them. Catching these creatures is actually a lot more fun than I expected as each one is unique and requires a new strategy. There are over 100 BugSnax in the game and throughout my playthrough I only got a little more than half. Catching them reminds me a lot of Pokémon Snap and Viva Piñata, and like those games catching these creatures can quickly become borderline obsessive.
Another really fun aspect is actually feeding the inhabitants the BugSnax and seeing their reaction. I ended up catching a bunch of them solely to feed them to NPC‘s and watch them mutate.
Something that BugSnax has in spades is charm. From its menus to its characters, the superb voice acting and how every BugSnax talks to you through the PS5’s controller, it’s one of the most engaging games I’ve ever played.
When it comes to presentation the game is an indie title and is obviously choosing style over realism. So while the game doesn’t exactly push any boundaries when it comes to graphics it is very stylised. Everything has a certain aesthetic and should ultimately help the game age better. It won’t be the greatest looking PS5 game and obviously doesn’t hold a candle to most big budget games. Again, it chooses style or substance and I can appreciate that. Also, the music is incredibly catchy throughout the game and I found myself humming the tunes regularly while playing.
I did notice the frame rate dipping at a few points especially when a lot of steam was on screen which was mildly annoying, however the load times in the game are essentially non-existent as the game makes good use of the PS5’s SSD.
So while BugSnax does do a lot well, not all is amazing. During my playthrough, several bugs showed up (pun not intended) throughout the game and it crashed on me once. There were several clipping issues but due to the games nature of feeding the NPC’s and changing their bodies this is undoubtedly inevitable. Some of the puzzles presented in the game with certain BugSnax felt unnecessarily complicated, especially towards the end of the game, to the point where it was just not worth it to try and catch certain BugSnax.
It can be overly vague as well at other times leading to the player just trying every trap until one of them works. And when the Ice and Fire elements are put into play, catching these BugSnax becomes much more annoying. And while the more difficult BugSnax are fairly rare, they are still present. At the very least, the game has a good length to it and the game ended before the gameplay became stale/repetitive at around 8 or so hours.
In conclusion, BugSnax is a really strange, charming good time that is ultimately unforgettable. The gameplay is vastly different from every other game out on the market right now and is easily the weirdest PS5 game available. While catching every BugSnax isn’t always enjoyable, for the most part it is a fun time overall and the games strong narrative and characters allow it flourish.
If you’re looking for one of the most unique games of the last decade or just want something to test out your new PS5, I’d highly recommend BugSnax.