It was a surprise when I first saw Bugsnax in the Future of Gaming event Sony held a few months ago. It was a game, with puppet-like characters and animals… based on snacks? Slowly though, we started to see more of the game, and it was exciting to find out that it was pleasantly more than I expected. A good reminder to never judge a book by its cover.
In Bugsnax,you play as a reporter who received a film strip in the mail from Elizabert Megafig, who talks about Snaktoooth Island that is filled with creatures that are, as the title entails, half bug and half snack. You set out to visit her at the island, only to find that she has gone missing, and that everyone in the expedition has scattered all across the island. You decide to help Elizabert’s assistant Filbo Fiddlepie to bring everyone back to their camp at Snaxburg as well as uncover the mysterious details of her disappearance.
While you can safely call this a narrative adventure game, Bugsnax throws a spanner into the mix by letting you trap and capture the creatures littered across the island. Unlike Pokemon though, you dont do battle in a turn based manner to capture them, but by solving each encounter as if they are mini puzzles in their own regard. Some are fairly straightforward and can be easily solved with the many gadgets you have, while some are a bit more complicated, with as example, extinguishing the fires off a flame based bugsnax, or tripping up flying bugsnax. Thankfully, you are also given a pair of binoculars that can help you pinpoint each Bugsnax’s weaknesses, as well as helping you notice key items you could have missed.
Sound design is gorgeous, even on the PlayStation 4. You could hear the waterfall in the distance while you’re at Snaxburg, and the ambience each area is unique and immersive. The voice overs too, are excellent. Each of the characters you meet in the game is wonderfully acted, and make you care about their problems and wellbeing. The Bugsnax too are just hilarious. In a possible homage to the western dub of the Pokemon anime, the creatures say their name over and over, which at times just makes me laugh with how goofy it sounds.
While I enjoyed my time with Bugsnax, it didn’t come with more than a few caveats. The game is buggy at parts, and sorely missing some much needed QoL patches. Letting you zoom into some of the items in your inventory would be nice, with some of the details on it that can be essential to solve some quests can be easily missed because of how small the text and drawings are. A quick travel feature would also be nice, especially as the PlayStation 4 doesn’t have the SSD its successor has.
Grubsnax is enjoyable, but the flaws quickly add up to spoil some of the fun. It sometimes feels like a patch away from being highly recommended. Once they improved certain things though? I recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.
A Review code was provided by Popagenda.
Developer: Young Horses / Publisher: Young Horses
Release date: 12/11/2020
Platforms: PS5 and PS4
Version Reviewed PS4
“Grubsnax is enjoyable, but the flaws quickly add up to spoil some of the fun. It sometimes feels like a patch away from being highly recommended”