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Indie studio Young Horses’ new title comes out November 12 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Epic Games Store. The PS5 version (which I reviewed) will also be free to PlayStation Plus subscribers, so it can be an attractive download to early adopters of Sony’s newest console.
Much of the early next-gen attention has gone to big triple-A games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, so it’s nice to see a smaller game getting some eyes. Bugsnax deserves some love, even if it isn’t always the most exciting or stimulating experience.
Mystifying bugs that are also snacks
Bugsnax, at its core, is a kind of puzzle game. Your basic gameplay loop centers on capturing the titular Bugsnax. As their name implies, these are bugs made out of food. For example, you may come across a fryder, which is a spider that has a condiment cap for a head and french-fries for legs. A good deal of the fun comes from discovering new Bugsnax and admiring their wacky and pun-filled designs.
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Capturing a Bugsnax requires you to incapacitate it in some way or another. For some, you may just need to lay down a trap and wait for your prey. Catching other creatures can be more complicated. You may come across an ice cream-shaped Bugsnax that is too cold to touch unless you find a way to heat it up, or you may find a banana bug jumping between the branches of a tree, requiring you to use a tripwire tool to stun it.
If you’ve ever played an Ape Escape game, it’s a bit like that. It’s also a bit like, believe it or not, Myst. You are on an island, after all, which you’re exploring while solving puzzles.
Bugsnax, however, is never quite as challenging or satisfying as a more complex environmental puzzle experience like Myst. Your main goal is to get the residents of an abandoned town to return. Each of them won’t go unless you do a few tasks for them. This almost always means feeding them Bugsnax. And while there is some variety in how you capture these culinary critters, you often depend on the same solutions to the same several problems. A Bugsnax is on fire? Find a way to lead it to water. A Bugsnax is flying? Use your tripwire tool.
Eat it, don’t devour it
And that’s my biggest problem with Bugsnax. As cute and clever as its creatures are, the puzzles just aren’t deep or interesting enough.
Still, I don’t dislike Bugsnax. Its fun goofiness carries it past many of its problems. When you feed someone a Bugsnax, it replaces one of their body parts. It’s hard to hate a game where you can feed someone a s’mores-themed bug and then watch their nose turn into a toasted marshmallow. And if you’re a completionist, you can get some extra fun by challenging yourself to capture every kind of Bugsnax in the game.
I applaud Bugsnax’s creativity. It’s not the most stimulating puzzle game, but it’s worth checking out if you can’t get that theme song out of your head.
Bugsnax comes out on November 12 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC. The developer provided us with a PS5 digital code for this review.
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