Bugsnax review for PS5, PS4

Platform: PS5
Also on: PS4, PC
Publisher: Young Horses
Developer: Young Horses
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Bugsnax has so many great things going in its favour. It?s cute, it?s funny, it?s got great voice acting, it looks great, and it?s got a very good story at its heart. And yet, despite all that, I don?t love it as much as I want to.

Part of this, I?ll admit, is for kind of silly personal reasons. It?s a game about capturing bugs that also happen to taste delicious, and then feeding them to the fuzzy inhabitants of Snaktooth Island as snacks. As someone who doesn?t believe in eating living creatures, or in hunting in general, I?ll admit to having some qualms about Bugsnax?s core gameplay loop. Like I said, it?s a silly, personal complaint.

The bigger issue, though, that more people may identify with, is that the game?s bug hunting isn?t all that fun. Most of the bugs simply move around in the same set pattern, so it?s a matter of scanning where they walk, setting a trap, and then capturing them. Now imagine doing that hundreds of times over the course of 5-6 hours, and you can see why it may get old pretty quickly.

That said, as long as you have some patience for repetitive tasks, the rest of Bugsnax is pretty great. As I said, it?s pretty cute, with the fuzzy inhabitants of Snaktooth Island being some of the most adorable creatures I?ve ever seen in a game. And the world around them is equally wonderful, in everything from the wide variety of bugs to the colourful regions that make up the island.

On top of that, the characters are incredibly well-realized. The voice acting is top-notch, and the game manages to give every single character you come across a surprising amount of depth. The game has also got a fantastic sense of humour, and it?s funnier than most other games I?ve played.

And the story — that?s where Bugsnax really shines. I don?t want to give away too much, but I?ll say that it hooks you in from the get-go with a pretty stellar mystery, and then it turns everything on its head with a final act twist that makes everything even more interesting. It shouldn?t be a surprise that a game that has such great writing in its characterization and jokes also has great plotting, but it still puts Bugsnax way ahead of most its competition.

It?s just a shame that the core gameplay here is so dull. Everything else in Bugsnax would make it a strong GOTY contender, but the sheer repetitiveness of the game’s main task drags it all down. Still, given how high the rest of the game flies, there?s only so far down it can go — and as it stands, that still means you?re left with one heck of a game.

Young Horses provided us with a Bugsnax PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+