Games that have a specific kind of energy don’t always belong in the same genre. Bugsnax has a very similar energy to Viva Pinata, and honestly, I don’t think I’ve found anything quite as refreshing this year. There’s something entirely wholesome about the somewhat depraved concept of Bugsnax. Even when you find yourself committing atrocities against the half-bug half-snack denizens of Snaktooth Island you’ll be kind of entranced by it all.
There was a fair bit of confusion about what you’d even be doing in Bugsnax, but once you get into the game you learn that it’s basically a game of learning about the strange creatures and doing quests involving them.
You start the game off as a journalist who has been drawn to the island in search of a big story. You see, the Bugsnax aren’t a known quantity, they’re unique to the island. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and you end up stranded there.
Thankfully the mayor of the island meets you (sort of) and you begin your journey into the wonderful world of Bugsnax. The first thing you have to do is try and track down Elizabert Megafig, who’s the explorer that discovered the island.
Naturally, she’s currently missing, and you’ll need to explore the island and reunite the town on it in order to find out what’s going on. The Bugsnax themselves are hardly the only strange thing on the island, and you’ll discover that as you meet all of the residents and help them out with their weird and wonderful quests.
Of course, one of the most unsettling things about the whole game is that those who eat a Bugsnax gain a limb that looks like them. That means you can also customize your residents as you see fit.
Is that humane?
To feed Bugsnax to anybody you first need to catch them, and that’s where the main gameplay loop comes into things. There’s nothing all that complex about Bugsnax, but it’s still satisfying when you figure out how to lure one of the more elusive creatures out of their hideyholes.
It helps that each of them wonders around saying there own name like Pokemon too, especially as that can help you identify variants of species you thought you already knew all about. It’s really cute, and they’re all fairly cute as well, which only made me feel like an abhorrent human being every time I threw one into the gullet of the townsfolk. Sure, it’s necessary to advance the game, but does that make it right?
Sure, I guess
You don’t even cook them, they just get consumed whole and then the consumer mutates into a new form. It’s all rather horrific if you spend any length of time actually thinking about it, and that’s probably why Bugsnax keeps you thinking about other things with strange quests, colourful (literally and figuratively speaking) characters.
Bugsnax is a fascinating game that delights and perplex you at every given chance. It is, in this frankly astonishingly bad year, a breath of fresh air and whimsy that should help you feel a bit normal. Only in its utter absurdity have I manage to find the escapism and joy I need at the moment, and the mix of entertaining writing, brilliant premise, and wonderful gameplay are enough to keep everyone feasting for a long time to come. Everyone’s talking about Bugsnax, and it’s only right that that’s the case.
[Reviewed on PC]
Jason is the Editor of The Indie Game Website. He’s a lover of roguelikes, soulslikes, and other kinds of likes. He basically spends a lot of time getting beaten up in games and seems to enjoy it.