Bugsnax review (PS4)

Bugsnax, from Octodad developer Young Horses, is one of the PS5 launch titles that stood out for a number of reasons. It’s also available on the PS4, so we decided to check that version out to see if current (or is it last) gen users should also dip in to this unique new world.

Of course the fact that Bugsnax was announced early as a free launch title for anyone with a PS5 and a PS+ subscription was always going to help people notice the game (after all, it helps to save some money after buying an expensive new console, right?), but it also looked like another highly original game from Young Horses that warranted a look on its own merits.

Although it’s a very different game from Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Bugsnax once again captures that feeling of playing around with a fun yet oddball cast of characters during an adventure full of comedic undertones. And as with Octodad, this one’s bound to be remembered as a quirky and fun title that people fondly remember, even though no one is going to see it as a game to usher in a new generation of consoles.

bugsnax

In Bugsnax, you play as an investigative journalist who heads to Snaktooth Island in order to meet with Elizabert Megafig – the leader of the town of Snaxburg. She turns out to be missing though, and only by gathering a large variety of Bugsnax and performing short quests will you be able to find her and reveal more about this strange civilization that calls Snaktooth Island its home.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the notion was discussed to have half-snack, half-bug creatures in a new videogame. Think donuts with rainbow-colored millipede legs or a talking panini sandwich with fruit for hands and you get a pretty solid idea of how wacky this world is. Underneath that surface, however, is a game in which you get to know a whole range of characters as individuals, many of whom bring interesting backstories with them in addition to wanting you to catch them a few Bugsnax.

What helps the game achieve this is the fact that there’s some amazing voice work in the game, really bringing the game to life – even more so than the catchy music that we already heard in the pre-release trailers. Everything is undeniably charming and cute, with a ton of personality, enough even to hide the fact that – visually speaking – this feels far from a next gen offering, both in terms of visual detail and the quality of the animation. It never bothered me in Octodad and it doesn’t here, but for those starting off their next gen journey with Bugsnax it might look a tad underwhelming.

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On top of some very creative creature designs, some of which you’ll “create” by having characters eat Bugsnax and taking on some of their physical attributes in the process, there is also a layer of casual puzzle solving involved as different Bugsnax require different methods for you to catch them. This is far from a “collect them all!” type of game though, since you’ll only need a fraction of the total to complete the game, which is on the short side if you stay on point and follow the narrative. Completionists will certainly enjoy heading out to find every single creature on the island and others will enjoy experimenting with different combinations, but this isn’t required if you prefer a more objective-driven approach.

If you play that way, you’ll enjoy a humor-filled mystery full of great voice acting for some unique characters in an adventure that just oozes charm. In that sense, Bugsnax is absolutely timeless in its appeal, and although it’s not next gen in terms of technical achievements I sure hope that its release alongside the PS5 will make sure it finds some instant appeal among gamers. I can definitely see PS4 players being a little bitter about not getting it as a freebie, but at its pleasant price point it’s still worth checking out.

Score: 8.0/10

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