Developer: Young Horses
Publisher: Young Horses
Genre: Adventure Comedy
Platform: PC (also available on PlayStation 5)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 12.11.2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
In June, we were first introduced to the world of Snaktooth Island and its strange snack inhabitants. I was immediately fascinated by the distinct charm and oddness to Bugsnax but is the game worth a bite? Find out in this Rapid Review!
We Are Whatever We Eat
Whilst playing Bugsnax, it’s best practice to completely suspend your disbelief. If you think too much about the world and food-based limb transformation, then what is a colourful PEGI 7 game can suddenly become a banned horror film from years ago. Scattered across Snaktooth Island are the bipedal inhabitants of the island called grumpuses.
These grumpuses, bar one who thinks bugsnax should be “friends not food”, have a demanding appetite for the bug and food hybrids that roam the island. Once a bugsnax is fed to a grumpus, one of the consumer’s limbs will magically transform into food: their teeth becoming an (off-brand) Oreo; their leg a curly fry.
A Famed Explorer Tells Me They’re Delicious
You’d be forgiven if you were unsure what the overall goal of Bugsnax is as the promotional materials have kept the actual gameplay pretty vague. Essentially, you’re on a mission to find out what happened to an explorer named Elizabeth and to do this you must track down and bring back the inhabitants of the island to the central village of Snaxburg.
Of course, the grumpuses are spread out across the island and this is where bugsnax catching comes in to play. Each grumpus have tastes that must be satisfied so it’s up to you the player to track down and capture their favourite bugsnax. Once they’ve been suitably fed (and limb-altered) then they return to Snaxburg and can be interviewed. Interviewing each resident offers an insight into each of the grumpuses whilst also slowly revealing what happened to Elizabeth.
Feed Somebody And You’ll See
In a game with strabby’s, bunger’s and buffalocusts the emotionally-mature dialogue was a real surprise. I simply did not expect themes such as romance, inclusivity and friendship to be tackled in such a cleverly written and surprisingly emotional manner. And in keeping with the excellent writing, the voice acting is also a real standout. Each grumpus feels unique and the voice actors bring real distinction with the varying emotions in which lines are performed.
The voice acting in the bugsnax themselves are also of a high standard. In a style similar to Groot, the bugsnax simply say their names. But the varying performances means each bugsnax sounds different from each other with some like Charmallow having a cute, Pikachu-like voice whilst others like the Preying Picantis angrily shouting their name before charging into me. It’s certainly worth playing this game with headphones as the spatial audio helps identify where the bugsnax’s sound is coming from.
Try To Catch ‘em In Your Trap
You’ll soon discover that capturing these pesky bugsnax’s can be quite an ordeal. A camera-like snaxscope is first used to identify the movement patterns and then a snax-based tool can be utilised to capture a bugsnax. Although a simple net and trap are initially the only offering in the snax-catching arsenal, across the game new traps are unlocked. I will not be spoiling what these new traps are as the shortness of the game means every discovery should be treasured. What I will say though is that combining the multiple abilities creates some very fun and inventive snax-catching techniques.
In addition to tools, different flavour sauces grow (yes, grow) around the various areas of snaktooth island. By collecting these, the sauces become an incredibly helpful addition in capturing each bugsnax. Sweet snax like a charmellow will be attracted to chocolate whilst savoury snax like Bunger will adore the taste of ketchup. These attractions can be fully exploited so as to lure the snax into a trap.
Trapping is incredibly satisfying as there can be a genuine level of challenge in capturing the snax. This is particularly the case with the late-game ones with their unique powers and abilities. I’m always honest in my reviews and must mention that I did use a guide on how to capture one or two snax as my initial attempts resulted in a hot mess, with a particular emphasis on “hot”. Nevertheless, my resorting to a guide was on no bad part to the developer’s game design. Once I realised what I was supposed to do, the solution was clear all along.
‘Til You’ve Seen A Carrot Crawl.
In terms of sound, I’m pleased to report that Kero Kero Benito’s “It’s Bugsnax!” does make an appearance in the closing credits but before that arrives, we’re treated to the electronic sounds from Seth Parker.
Graphics and design is a difficult aspect to tackle in Bugsnax because they almost need to be treated separately. The graphics will not wow anyone and they will look poor in comparison to what we’re seeing on a next-gen PS5 or modern GPU’s, and mediocre when compared to last-gen. However, what’s disappointing from a sheer “realism” standpoint is more than made up in actual design. I’ve often said that poor graphics will not ruin a game and this is certainly demonstrated in Bugsnax. Take my favourite bugsnax Shishkabug for example. It doesn’t look “ultra-realistic” or “next-gen” but it’s more than made up with its genius naming and overall clever design. Kebab ingredients are combined with six insect legs and this ingenuity and creativity is showcased throughout the roster of bugsnax on offer.
Talkin’ Bout Bugsnax
Bugsnax took me around seven hours to complete and whilst I completed a few side missions, most of the time was spent on the main missions. I feel like this is a perfect time length as, towards the end of my game, the cycle of bug catching was becoming slightly repetitive. However, I’m very pleased to report that the ending of Bugsnax has got to be one of my favourites in gaming. It’s a genuine climax with emotion, suspense, drama and more.
The ending will not disappoint if you’re interested in the “oddness” of Bugsnax. I will not be spoiling and I encourage you to avoid reading about the end of the game. The ending is simply fantastic with the music being particularly good in this section.
Overall, Bugsnax is a true gem in independent game making. With originality, inclusivity and genuine heart to its storytelling, I highly recommend taking a journey to snaktooth island.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Bugsnax on PC here via the Epic Games Store
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.