Bugsnax
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 9

On the surface, Bugsnax is a game about finding and capturing adorable critters with googly eyes and pun-filled names using an assortment of wacky traps. However, things take a strange turn when using these same critters to feed and mutate the other characters in the game. Nevertheless, catching Bugsnax is fun, especially as it often requires some out-of-the-box thinking or creative use of your traps. The lack of any real danger makes the game suitable for younger players too, but to get the most out of the experience, players should definitely complete all the side quests.

Gameplay: Capturing all the Bugsnax in sight is fun despite some repetition, and the memorable cast of characters all have interesting stories to unravel.

Graphics: The designs of the Bugsnax are hilarious, and the game world is very vibrant, but the way you can mutate other Grumpusses by feeding them the Bugsnax can yield alarming results.

Sound: Bugsnax features a stellar cast of voice actors along with a very catchy soundtrack

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Bugsnax

Developer: Young Horses | Publisher: Young Horses | Release Date: 2022 | Genre: Casual / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

As a journalist, an invitation to interview intrepid explorer Elizabert Megafig sounds too good to pass up, especially as she is leading an expedition on Snaktooth Island. However, not even the promise that the island might be home to legendary half-bug, half-snack creatures called Bugsnax is enough to impress your editor. So, disregarding threats of getting fired if you pursue the story, you hop on a flying airship and set off for Snaktooth Island for what promises to be the adventure of a lifetime.

Upon a rather painful arrival at the island, you discover that things are not going to be as easy as you thought. Not only has Elizabert and her girlfriend been missing for a while, but her camp, Snaxburg, is in shambles after the rest of her crew began bickering and abandoned it. The only one left is Filbo, who, judging by the state you find him in, is very much in over his head trying to fulfill his role as mayor of Snaxburg. So it would seem that the only way to find Elizabert and get that exclusive interview is to work with Filbo and convince the rest of the expedition to return to camp.

Bugsnax takes the form of a first-person adventure game where players get to roam around Snaktooth Island while searching for Grumpuses and catching Bugsnax. Grumpuses, which look like giant furry Muppets, is the human stand-ins in the world of Bugsnax, while Bugsnax is critters that act like insects but appear to consist of tasty snacks. Snaktooth Island is divided into different biomes, each with its own collection of Bugsnax that are themed to the environment. This means that colder Bugsnax dwells in the snowy mountains while hotter ones are native to the desert area and so on.

For many players, the highlight of Bugsnax will be the variety of critters that can be found and caught. The developers appear to have been inspired by games such as Pokemon and Viva Pinata as all the Bugsnax roam about repeating their own names. The googly-eyed creatures come in all shapes and sizes while sporting names that are puns based on their appearance. For example, the Bunger appears to be a cross between a Rhinoceros Beetle and a burger, while Fryder is a spider made up of french fries. Of course, some Bugsnax are just palette swaps, but overall there’s plenty of variety and some genuinely bizarre combinations such as Daddy Cakelegs, Noodler, Preying Picantis, and Scoopy Banoopy.

Players are provided with an ever-growing arsenal of tools to capture Bugsnax, but unlike Pokemon, the goal is not really to catch them all. In fact, the only actual use for Bugsnax is to feed them to the Grumpusses on the island, which causes their bodies to mutate. While this transformation is handled in a very humorous manner, it is actually quite disturbing.

Grumpusses gleefully continue about their business after you feed them Bugnax, which turns their limbs into french fries, strawberries, coconuts, and other treats. Eventually, it is possible to target specific body parts, such as noses, teeth, and hair, for transformation. Even the most bizarre changes never seem to freak out or inconvenience the Grumpusses in any way, but some of the transformations are nevertheless quite disturbing. Of course, that never stopped us from trying to feed them all the weirdest Bugsnax we could find to see what the results would be. Strangely enough, your own character never succumbs to eating any of the Bugsnax, despite everyone around you raving about how good they taste.

While the main storyline involves discovering the whereabouts of Elizabert and discovering the secret of Snacktooth Island, there’s plenty to do in between. Finding and convincing the residents of Snaxburg to return to town also opens up new side quests that typically involve catching and feeding them various Bugsnax. In the process, players will learn more about the Grumpusses and their reasons for being on the island. Despite their goofy appearances, even goofier names, and cliched personalities, some of them have rather heartfelt stories, and the game features emotional twists that are quite unexpected. Although completing all the side missions is not a requirement for completing the game, it is highly recommended, especially as failing to do so can alter the game’s ending.

When not spending time chatting to the Grumpusses or feeding them Bugsnax, players will be exploring the island and capturing the Bugsnax. Early on, players are provided with a gadget called the SnaxScope, which can be used to scan the Bugsnax. Doing so reveals some important details about them, such as their likes and dislikes, and also displays the path they follow, which is essential for setting up traps. Initially, catching a Bugsnax is as easy as walking up to it and grabbing it with your net, but as players discover new species, they become increasingly wily. Some will destroy your traps, while others will hide or even retaliate. There’s never any risk of injury or death in Bugsnax but getting burnt, frozen, or knocked across the map is not uncommon if players are not careful.

Each biome in Bugsnax is relatively small and only contains a handful of Bugsnax, but working out how to catch them makes for an almost puzzle-like experience. In addition to using gadgets like a tripwire, slingshot, and even a laser-pointed guided Bugsnax in a plastic ball, players must also get creative with the environment. Some Bugsnax must be doused first if they are fiery, while others must be manipulated into helping players by tricking them. Sometimes the solution is also as simple yet effective as sticking your trap on a launchpad and literally flinging it at flying Bugsnax that are out of reach. The game has a day and night cycle, so some Bugsnax only appears during one of these and not the other. Fortunately, passing time is as easy as sleeping in a bed. There’s even a handful of “legendary” Bugsnax to battle, and these encounters are some of the most entertaining in the game.

Bugsnax is a vibrant-looking game with a lot of attention to detail regarding the designs of the Bugsnax. There are over 100 species of them to catch, which means there are also plenty of weird combinations for transforming the Grumpusses. As mentioned before, some of these combinations are really creepy, especially when you change the skin textures of the Grumpusses. There’s nothing creepy about the audio, though, with lighthearted and upbeat music tracks throughout the game. Some of the synth tracks are catchy enough that they remained stuck in our heads for days, and the way in which Bugsnax repeat their names in sing-song voices is simply adorable. Even the voice acting quality is exceptionally high, which is no surprise considering the cast includes the likes of Yuri Lowenthal & Fryda Wolff. While Bugsnax can be played with a controller, the first-person perspective means that we found using a keyboard and mouse to be more comfortable.

Overall, Bugsnax is a great game with memorable characters and a very interesting premise. However, some players might find the gameplay a little too simplistic, and the quests, which all involve catching Bugsnax, can become repetitive. Nevertheless, the game kept us entertained throughout, even if the story became a little darker than expected towards the end.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Quad Core 2.6 Ghz or equivalent
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 2GB DirectX 11 Video Card (Intel UHD 620, NVIDIA GT 920M)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 6.7 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.8 Ghz or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 4GB DirectX 11 Video Card (GTX 970 or higher)
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 7.5 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: macOS 10.13 High Sierra
  • Processor: Intel Quad Core 2.6 Ghz or equivalent
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD 630
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: macOS 10.15 Catalina
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.8 Ghz or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M or better

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