System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC | Publisher: Young Horses & Fangamer Developer: Young Horses | Reviewed On: PlayStation 5 | Released: November 2020
Bugsnax is a first-person adventure game set in the fictional world of Snaktooth Island, you are a journalist trying to save your job by chasing down a lead regarding the unknown island, after an explorer releases a short video of herself on the island and talks about its mysterious inhabitants.
As you start Bugsnax, you discover very quickly that you are a reporter on the verge of losing your job, when you come across a film of an explorer that has discovered an island called Snaktooth. Using this film, you show your boss to indicate that this is a story worth covering, especially to save your job, document your findings and hoping to uncover its unknown mysterious for the story of a lifetime.
The world your character inhabits before setting off to the island, is filled with people known as Grumpuses, which is the equivalent of humans, but for this story we are a silent Grumpus protagonist going forward on the hunt for the next big scoop.
On approach to the island, you get caught up in a storm and fall overboard. When you awake you get the feeling that the island is in ruins which is the opposite of what you have seen in the film of the explorer. You trudge forward to explore the island, uncover what has happened to the Grumpuses that followed explorer Lizbert to the island and discover the secrets hidden away on the island.
The game has you start off by bumping into your first Grumpus very quickly, this turns out to be the Mayor of the island, Filbo. Finding Filbo acts as the start of the tutorial to the game, to get you used to the features in this strange environment. Filbo gives you the first of six tools that you will need to capture your very first Bugsnax. Yes, these bugs that roam the island all take the shape of a food, so for example the first one you catch is a Strabby, which is basically a bug like strawberry that after you catch it, using your Snak Trap, you feed to Filbo. This sounds like it should be more sinister than the art style suggests, but it is a very quirky game that after trying to figure out what I was getting involved with, turned out to have a certain charm to it. So, when you feed Filbo, you get to chose what part of his body changes, yes that is right, his body starts to change into the Bugsnax he has eaten, and this is the theme of the game for all the islands inhabitants you find. I chose his leg which indeed turned to Strawberries.
From here the story progresses where Filbo advises you that Lizbert, the explorer of the film that got into your hands, has went missing and all the Grumpuses that traveled out here with her have scattered across the island with Filbo unable to maintain peace and harmony after the glue that kept the band together left. Filbo, impressed that you saved him as well as convinced Wambus Troubleham and Beffica Winklesnoot to come back to Snaxburg, the home of these Grumpuses on Snaktooth island, has the ingenious idea of asking you to bring all the scattered Grumpuses back to Snaxburg and try to find clues to where Lizbert could be, to unite everyone once more.
The game has nine areas to explore, each area containing one or two Grumpuses for you to try and bring back to Snaxburg. The way to recruit them to come back is usually doing some missions for them to gain your trust, and when I say missions, its usually fetching some of the Bugsnax for them in a variety of ways. One Grumpus, Gramble Gigglefunny, does not want you to catch them, as he sees them more as animals and friends, so using your array of tools you must solve these puzzle-like missions and get them to follow you back to the mission objective. It could be as easy as equipping your slingshot you acquire and firing a sauce that the Bugsnax likes to follow you. The sauces range from Ketchup, Chocolate and Hot sauce just to name a few.
There is one hundred Bugsnax for you to find for your Bugapedia if you wish, you will most likely find and catch most of them if you are doing all the missions anyways. Catching all of them is a challenge though, as some can be caught extremely easy, by using your camera to take a picture, which will show the set path they will always walk allowing you to place a trap with ease, but some of the Bugsnax require you to use two or even three of your tools combined to catch, due to being out of reach. I enjoyed this aspect as it added a fun puzzle element to the game that had me thinking, trying out different tools and being as creative as I could in my chase to catch them all.
Bugsnax is a ridiculously cute looking game, the art style really adds to unique style of game that is presented here without being anything amazing. But the theme and art style mesh well with the story that the developer has chosen to tell. It is a very kid friendly looking game with a good mix of humour scattered throughout.
The soundtrack is a very relaxing as you play, with each new area having a new sound to represent the style of area you are in, again it fits the style without standing out too much that at times I forgot there was some form of music playing.
Bugsnax is a fun and easy game to get in to, I enjoyed my time within this world, but I do not feel it has much replay value and was not a long experience with it taking me roughly fourteen hours to platinum, but just playing through the story, you would find is closer to an eight- or nine-hour experience. I would say it is an easy pick up and play game for people that do not have a lot of time to sink into games especially if you have gaps between playthroughs, you will not need to worry about remembering the controls as it is quite easy and straightforward to jump right back in. I have to say I picked up this game when I got my PlayStation 5 with PS Plus, I would recommend buying it if it is in a sale or comes back to PS Plus, it’s a fun unique experience that does not exactly blow you away but could be exactly what a family needs for a good game night in.