Everyone’s talkin’ ’bout Bugsnax. Seriously, it’s all anyone ever talks about on Snaktooth Island. They’re all a bit obsessed, and perhaps a tad addicted, with Bugsnax. So, what are Bugsnax, and why do we care? It all starts with intrepid explorer Elizabert Megafig finding Snaktooth Island and learning of its unusual inhabitants.
The Bugsnax are adorable little creatures that are extra tasty, with the side effect of turning your limbs into them when you eat them. The Grumpuses on the island don’t seem to mind though, in fact, they quite enjoy it and want to be loaded up with Bugsnax, until not much of their original form exists anymore.
The downside is that most grumpuses don’t believe Elizabert when she talks about Bugsnax, so she has invited us (a journalist) to visit the island and report on our findings. Unfortunately, once we arrive, things are in disarray, and Elizabert is missing. Help out friendly mayor, Filbo, to try and bring everyone back together, and find Elizabert.
Bugsnax is a first-person game, so you only ever see your little grumpus arms and nothing more. As someone who gets motion sick with first-person games, the first thing I did was decrease mouse sensitivity and increase the field of view, which helped immensely.
Armed with a scanner and a trap, the game quickly explains how to find and catch Bugsnax. I played on PC with keyboard and mouse and found the controls relatively straight forward; however, with tab and Q both being used for different functions, I regularly accidentally pressed the wrong one. This can make it difficult when you’re quickly trying to switch between weapons and your trap to get that next elusive Bugsnak.
There will be a lot of those situations, with 100 Bugsnax to catch and just about as many fetch quests to go with them. Each bugsnak has likes and dislikes, as well as any different ways to catch them. Using your scanner, you will receive information on their type and a hint on how to catch them. Some are simple: track their path and set a trap, but others get more difficult, especially when you’re dealing with fire and ice.
The only issue I had with the gameplay was the lack of fast travel. Fortunately, the map isn’t huge, but after completing a quest and convincing a grumpus that they should return to Snaxburg, it would have been great to be able to teleport there.
Art style and sound design
I think the art style (and weirdness) are what initially draws people to Bugsnax. All of the bugsnax are super cute, and occasionally quite bizarre, and that’s before a grumpus eats them. Aside from the cute bugsnax and muppet-like look of the grumpuses, the world is also quite gorgeous. I watched quite a few lovely sunrises and sunsets during my time playing the game.
A lot of work has gone into making Bugsnax sound great. Each bugsnak has its own voice and dialogue, though this is just variations of its name, Pokemon style. This is cute, to begin with, and can let you know when a certain bugsnak is around, but some of them can get pretty old, pretty quick. Further to voice acting for the bugsnax, each grumpus is also fully voice-acted, giving us a little bit more insight into their background and personalities.
Then there is the soundtrack. Initially, I wasn’t sure how varied it was, but as you explore more of the world the tone changes. Some more upbeat, others laid back depending on where in the world you are. I really enjoyed the tunes in the Frosted Peaks area.
Bugsnax draws you in with an unusual premise, and vibrant characters and worlds. The characters are well written and have struggles we can all relate to. Everyone is dealing with their insecurities without Elizabert to keep them all together.
The mystery of what happened to Elizabert was what kept me going through the endless catching of Bugsnax and fetch quests. Unfortunately, there is no other way to learn more about the characters and the story other than doing these quests for them. Want a grumpus to come back to Snaxburg? Find them a bunch of specific Bugsnax. There were occasional quests that included going out with a grumpus and, usually, encountering a boss fight, but they were rare.
I’m not sure who I would recommend Bugsnax to. The collecting side of the game would be great for kids, but the story is probably too mature for them. If you enjoy exploring and collecting items with a side of weird and a little bit of drama, then give Bugsnax a go, and you might be the next person talkin’ ’bout Bugsnax.
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Platforms: PC (Epic) and PS4
Genre: Adventure, collectathon, first-person, mystery
** Find The Strawberry received a free key for Bugsnax from Popagenda. All opinions are my own **