We are close enough now to the end of 2020 to go ahead and say that Bugsnax is by far the strangest thing to release all year. In an industry full of hyper-realistic shooters, it is kind of a breath of fresh air to take a step back and play something with practically zero combat or danger. Instead players are just tasked with exploring a cutesy and colorful world as they collect these bizarre half animal half food creatures, and attempt to forge friendships between a group of misfits. Bugsnax is an odd game with pretty repetitive gameplay, but it does offer up enough unique characters and story to keep players engaged.
Bugsnax puts you in the shoes of a journalist who has received a request from infamous explorer Elizabert Megafig to travel to Snaktooth Island and interview her about her newest discovery: Bugsnax. These strange creatures take on the form of different kinds of food, but are completely anthropomorphic and sentient. More than this though the creatures are absolutely delicious and will change the limbs of anyone who eats them into whatever food that specific Bugsnax looked like. If someone is to consume a Strabby then one of their limbs will turn into a line of strawberries. This is obviously an incredible discovery, but once you arrive on Snaktooth Island Elizabert has gone missing and her entire expedition party has spread throughout the island. It now becomes your job to bring everyone back together and locate Elizabert.
Bring All of Your New Friends Together
Bringing all of these people back together is easier said than done, as none of them particularly like each other. Luckily, Bugsnax are so delicious that tracking down each character's favorite ones is usually enough to convince them to return to the main camp. Others still will want you to complete specific tasks for them before they will return. For example, Gramble refuses to eat Bugsnax because he sees them as pets rather than food, so you instead must help him locate the ones he lost before he will return to the camp. All members of this group want you to collect Bugsnax for them regardless of if they plan on eating them or not.
The majority of gameplay in Bugsnax is centered around trying to catch the different creatures out in the world. Throughout the game you are given several tools that can be used to acquire them like the most invaluable of tools, the Snaktrap. This wooden trap can be set up on the ground and triggered whenever a nearby Bugsnax wanders into it. You are also given a pair of binoculars for analyzing the environment, a trip wire for tripping up faster Snax, a launchpad with various uses, and even a small hamster ball with a Strabby inside that can be used to distract or lead other Bugsnax around.
Catching Bugsnax Isn't As Fun As It Seems
The different creatures throughout Bugsnax can only be caught under specific circumstances or in certain ways, so in a way it almost becomes a puzzle game at first. A lot of the time you have to combine your different tools together in various ways in order to capture a Bugsnax. A flying creature may require that you use the launch pad to fire the Snaktrap at them, or another fiery one may require you to lead it into a body of water with the hamster ball before being able to safely capture it.
Bugsnax may have some cute characters and a fun story line, but it does get fairly repetitive after a little while.
The problem with Bugsnax though is that the gameplay does become pretty repetitive over time. Once you grow used to all of the different tools it becomes pretty readily apparent that the majority of Bugsnax can be caught using the same methods. If they are too strong or fast? All you have to do is use the tripwire to stun them. Covered in fire or ice? Lead them to water or fire using the hamster ball. Everything else? Just use the Snaktrap. This means that capturing the Bugsnax gets really boring over time as there is really little variety to the catching methods.
A Diverse Cast of Characters
The upside though is that all of the characters in Bugsnax are charming and fun to talk to. Each of them have their own quirks and unique personalities like the previously mentioned Gramble who refuses to eat the Bugsnax or Lizbert's girlfriend Eggabel who goes through wonderful character growth throughout the short game. On top of this, Bugsnax does an excellent job with Queer representation throughout its story as well. Not only are Lizbert and Eggabel a lesbian couple, but there is also a gay couple and a character who is referred to using they/them pronouns. Even in this day and age its still pretty rare to see solid Queer rep in video games, so its pretty impressive to see it from a launch title on a major console.
The gameplay for Bugsnax comes nowhere near being revolutionary or groundbreaking at the end of the day. The Bugsnax creatures are cute and fun to discover, but actually capturing them is kind of boring. Luckily, Bugsnax manages to pull off a pretty engaging story line packed with colorful and diverse characters to keep you playing through to the end.
TechRaptor reviewed Bugsnax on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the developer. Bugsnax is also available on PC and PlayStation 5.
- A Cute Colorful World
- Diverse Cast of Characters
- Can Be Repetetive
- Very Short