It’s magically delicious.
Bugsnax is a perplexing vessel of idiosyncratic ingenuity and unapologetic creativity, encapsulating the raw essence of absurdity which is delightfully engaging and wholeheartedly charming. As a robust collect-a-thon and a cleverly orchestrated example of logical problem solving, Bugsnax is such a joyously enthralling experience that enforces an engaging and intricate stimulus of ineffable wonder and bizarre creativity. With a captivating mystery of unparalleled proportions, a lavishly florescent colour pallet, a surprisingly endearing cast of whimsical characters, and an exceptionally rewarding and addictive gameplay loop, Bugsnax is surprisingly delightful, capturing a magical aura of novelty that continuously put a smile on my face until its final moments. Its explorative tendencies and inevitable sense of gratification through discovery are exquisitely palpable and compliment its established themes of euphoric wonder and therapeutic escapism. While it struggles to retain a steady frame rate on multiple occasions and the titular Bugnax are not the only bugs littered throughout the player experience, Young Horses’ sophomore effort is still exquisitely enchanting and remarkably riveting, constructing a wholly unique and bizarre universe that is oozing with unprecedented levels of charm. From its diverse assortment of delectable creatures to catch and the logical puzzle-solving minutia imbued within each capture to its surprising level of emotional growth and character development, Bugsnax consistently adapts and outdoes itself with each newly introduced element, with endearing surprises around every corner. With an infectiously electric soundtrack, remarkably quirky and heartwarming character performances, and an embodiment of unadulterated euphoric whimsicality, Bugsnax is exceptionally remarkable from both aforementioned presentation and gameplay perspectives. Bugsnax is undeniably one of the most pleasant surprises of 2020 and an absolute gem, one that should definitely not be missed.
As a silent, nameless journalist, you wonder off to Snaktooth Island in search of a story about the missing explorer, Elizabert Megafig, and the alluring truth and tumultuous discovery of Bugsnax. These sporadic creatures – which are literally half bug and half snack – are the crux of your main escapade and drive the core gameplay loop in rather engrossing and addictive manner. Consuming a Bugsnak will cause the initiated to transform a specific part of their body into the ingested snack. The display of transforming a fellow Grumpus into a bonafide snack feen is undeniably comical and further cements Bugsnax’s bizarre whimsicality. However, the true heart of Bugsnax lies within its wonderful cast of characters and their enthralling interactions with one another. From the unapologetically charming and frequently sympathetic Filbo – with his selfless intention of wanting to help others despite their hostile responses – to the bombastic dude-bro persona of Chandlo – who is surprisingly endearing given his protective and heartwarming relationship with Snorpy – each idiosyncratic character is notably well-written and bursting with unique and bright personalities, exemplifying an invigorating level of character growth and existential development. While their side quests amount to trivial, albeit engaging tasks to fetch a requested Bugsnak, characters display impressive levels of self-reflection and exemplify insightful interaction with others over their newly developed growth and understanding. Despite the lavish aesthetic and remarkably amiable exterior of Bugsnax, its festering sense of mystery alludes to a realm of uncertainty and sinister intent, resulting in a competent thriller of captivating unpredictability and tantalizing intrigue. Bugsnax is laced with moments of poignant endearment, bombastic tenacity, palpable ambiguity, and mystifying awe, cultivating into a resurgent entity that defies preconceived notions and established perceptions. Bugsnax is an undeniable treat for the visual senses as its art design is appropriately orchestrated given its tonal themes. From the mountainous chill of the Frosted Peak to the lavish rays and tropical waves of Simmering Springs, each diverse location sets an illustrious, atmospheric tone that illustrates an appropriate use of pathetic fallacy. On top of the welcome aesthetic variation, each expansive location inhabits an array of solely unique Bugsnax to discover. Despite its vivacious colour scheme and prominent locale variety, Bugsnax is a little rough around the edges in regards to technical performance. With a bevy of choppy animations, a frustrating glitch that causes the screen to erratically shake, and a display of low res textures and subpar graphical detail – not to mention its inability to maintain a steady frame – Bugsnax’s technical prowess leaves much to be desired. Diverging from its less efficient component, Bugsnax auditory elements are exquisitely sublime. From the ridiculously charming performances that accompany the remarkably likeable characters to its harmoniously blissful musical score that radiates a prominent aura of electrifying euphoria, Bugsnax’s auditory elements exemplify pristine quality that outweigh its technical discrepancies. Bugsnax even boasts its own infectiously catchy theme song, performed by British Indie Pop band Kero Kero Bonita, which undeniablt slaps, rivalling the invigorative cadence of Jump Up Superstar from Super Mario Odyssey. Each vivacious biome is complimented with its own thematically appropriate musical number that oozes a charming sense of pristine whimsicality. Bugsnax is an exquisitely enthralling experience that is layered with palpable mystery and its illustrious locales, endearing characters, and infectious music further accentuates its established themes and central world-building.
Bugsnax is a first-person adventure that captures a tantalizing aura of enthralling mystery and wonderous discovery while encouraging the addictive urge to catch ’em all. As their name suggests, Bugsnax are a sentient amalgamation of insect and edible snack. The genuine creativity and bizarre combination exemplified with each creation is a testament to Young Horses’ obtusely gratifying and uniquely complex train of thought and state of mind. From the methodically tranquil combination of a cinnamon roll and a snail – coined as a Cinnasnail – to the elegant flutter of an illustrious amalgamation of a butterfly, cheese puff and nacho chips – which is delightfully known as a Cheesepoof – each Bugsnak is intricately and uniquely designed, catering to a thematic flavour that is simply entrancing. Bugsnax are abundantly diverse in their creative ingenuity and adventurous construction, being appropriately placed in a habit that matches their biochemical design. The popsicle-like Bopsicle and the snack based ice cream sandwich Chillynilly are suitably located in the frosty planes of Sugarpine Woods, while the viciously zesty Scorpepper and the loaded assortment of Mexican food known as the Preying Picantis graciously radiates in the simmering biome of Sizzlin’ Sands. Each biome is interwoven and connected to one another, acting as an explorative sandbox of euphoric wonder and discovery. Through developed research and further understanding, you will also discover different Bugsnax based on the current time of day and the respective weather conditions, adding an intriguing flair of premeditation and deliberation to the collective escapade. While a certain level of categorized repetition in creature design detracts from its established cadence of unique originality, these minute variations still evoke idiosyncratic charm and generally require a different strategic arrangement and method of capture. In similar cadence to the wonderous essence of Pokémon, delectable Bugsnax are only able to repeatedly say their own name – it may seem like a trivial observation but it is so exquisitely endearing and charming, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it at least once. While their ingenious structure and idiosyncratic design is a prominent factor in their unanimous charm, the true brilliance of these enigmatic creatures is the joyous euphoria of capturing them and the pleasant titillation of logical problem solving that accompanies each capture. As a nameless, journalistic Grumpus, you are provided with an illustrious array of different tools and mechanisms designed with the sole intent of collection. From the standard simplicity of the Snak Trap to the meticulous placement of an impactful Trip Shot, different tools cater to different situations and particular Bugsnax, deciphering the correct combination and experimental utilization of these aforementioned elements is strategically satisfying and undeniably enjoyable. I would have enjoyed a wider assortment of procurement mechanisms and some tools are unabashedly more useful than others, but Bugsnax’s emphasis on experimental combinations and logical problem solving make up for its lack of standard selection. Elevating its established level of critical thinking and layered strategy, the player must also incorporate surrounding factors and their environment when strategically orchestrating the correct method of capture for a particular Bugsnak. Certain Bugsnax require a reduction or increase in temperature for their capture, thus you will need to lure said Bugsnak to an opposite weather condition or element to render them vulnerable and viable for capture. Some Bugsnax can only be captured once unconscious, requiring you to find creative and flexible ways to capture your prey – such as dousing your target in a particular sauce that another Bugsnak may detest, causing it to aggressively attack your target and creating the necessary window for its capture. You may also have to rely on a specific Bugsnak’s ability or behaviour to catch another. The semblance of thought and strategy that goes into each capture creates an aura of player freedom and whimsical experimentation that I haven’t experienced since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. While its level of flexibility is undeniably more structured and straightforward than the masterful gems I alluded to, Bugsnax is still a formidable example of engrossing experimentation and eccentric innovation. There is also Metroidvania-lite element at play with Bugsnax’s tool utilization and implementation. Certain Bugsnax cannot be captured without the use of a specific tool and tools are gradually unlocked as the story progresses. This encourages players to return to previously visited biomes to capture conniving Bugsnax that were previously inaccessible or impossible to catch. Differing from the ingenious structure of Metroidvanias, exploration in Bugsnax is tied to story progression as opposed to the introduction or unlocking of a new ability or tool. While I was always elated at the sight of a new are to explore, ripe with new unpredictable Bugsnax to capture, it would have been far more rewarding and satisfying to unlock new areas based off my own merit and explorative tendencies.
Accompanying the rigorous adventure and tenacious capturing, you also have access to a wonderfully informative journal and insightful camera. Each Bugsnak, point of interest, and Grumpus you scan with your camera is documented in the aforementioned journal, providing further detail on each respective facet. Your camera will also record the defined path of the isolated Bugsnak, aiding in the strategic preparation of your collective hunt. The documented entries of each Bugsnak provides charming descriptions of the delectable creature while at times insinuating a hint or two relating to their procurement. Your journal also houses all clues related to your ongoing investigation on Elizabert’s whereabouts and the encompassing mystery behind Bugsnax. In order to gather more information about the overarching narrative and to slowly piece together this lucid puzzle, you are tasked with locating the aforementioned characters and convince them to return to habitable town of Snaxburg. Each character will inevitably agree to return to Snaxburg after you completed their laundry list of requested Bugsnax. Even after their innocuous return, you can still complete their respective side missions which are ultimately rendered to more trivial Bugsnak fetch quests. Thankfully, the moment to moment gameplay of Bugsnax and its layered strategy, flexible implementation, and addictive sense of reward are captivating enough to remove any festering sense of repetition or banality. Side missions also provide endearing character interactions and respective dialogue that range from audaciously comical to genuine moments of reflection and self-actualization that are delightfully surprising. Lastly, certain side quests will lead to the exclusive discovery of gargantuan boss type Bugsnax. These encounters are delightfully absurd and exceptionally invigorating, encompassing a unique level of problem solving and strategic thinking that differs from the standard approach of your usual Bugsnak. The juxtaposition established with their monumental stature accompanied with this newfound adaptive quality results in an enthrallingly bombastic set piece that is undeniably challenging and further cements Bugsnax’s remarkable embodiment of eccentric and brilliant game design. You can also donate any collected Bugsnax to Gramble’s farm which in turn increases your inventory space and allows you to carry more Bugsnax. I simply love the fact that each Bugsnak is a unique puzzle to solve and how these finite amount of Bugsnak bosses commit to this established structure while also upping the ante tenfold.
Young Horses’ sophomore effort is a delightful surprise, oozing with unprecedented levels of eccentric charm and idiosyncratic levity. With such a novel and creatively absurd premise, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Bugsnax was nothing more than a good idea with poor execution. Thankfully, Bugsnax not only managed to meet its lofty premise, but it also exceeded my expectations entirely. With an addictive gameplay loop layered with palpable strategy and flexible experimentation, a delightfully comical cast of characters, a tantalizing sense of mystery ripe with uncertainty and trepidation, and some of the most brilliantly imaginative creations to have graced the medium, Bugsnax is whimsically charming and exquisitely wonderful, never failing to put a smile on my face. While its lack in graphical fidelity and litany of performance issues significantly hinder the established experience, there is simply so much that Bugsnax gets right that it is painlessly easy to overlook any of its shortcomings. With over 100 different flavours of Bugsanx to capture, exceptional displays of character growth and empathetic attachment, and extraordinarily exciting boss encounters that up the ante in critical thinking, Bugsnax is an undeniably enthralling and downright addictive experience. Bugsnax’s brilliantly crafted final act drastically shifts the established mission structure, thematic tones of its mysterious narrative, and the DNA of its core gameplay loop, further cementing its creatively adaptive qualities and unpredictable nature. Bugsnax is a relatively unpolished, albeit rewarding collect-a-thon with an electrifying theme song and a tremendous amount of heart; an absolute gem of an experience.