While most of the early PS5 reviews are triple-A’s, my first is going to be Bugsnax. Why? Because it doesn’t cost £70 for a digital game. Why, oh why are games so expensive when there are no packaging costs for a physical release? Save that for another post.
Bugsnax is a funny one. I downloaded it because a) it was free, and b) I thought it might be a game to lure my youngest into playing other than Astrobot. Thinking that the latter was a 15-minute demo, we ended up playing that more than I had thought, but now we can move on.
It’s a first-person adventure from Young Horses (the developers, rather than random foals) where you play a grumpus hunting for bugsnax (cute little creatures that are edible), but with the primary objective of locating a missing person. Think of it as a cannibalistic version of Pokémon: gotta eat ’em all!
Bugsnax PS5 Review
For starters, you’re a journalist setting out on an adventure to locate infamous explorer Elizabert Megafig – a fellow grumpus – who has gone missing while searching for bugsnax on Snaktooth Island. On your way to the island, your craft is shot down, and you have to regain your bearings and your mission.
Queue a bunch of oddball characters and even stranger bugsnax, wandering their habitats why you hunt them down to be eaten by the Grumpuses – a mixture of Henson/Dr Seuss/Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 characters who are apparently at the top of the food chain.
First of all, you hunt, then once you’ve captured the cute little bugs and updated your bestiary, you hand them over to be eaten. A side effect of eating one of the bugs turn the eater’s appendages into the fruit or vegetable the creature presents.
The bugsnax won’t voluntary be eaten, so you have to set up traps to lure them in or use other, more dominant bugs, to sort them out, forcing them to enter your devious snares.
First impressions were pretty good. As a native PS5 game, the visuals were vibrant, but the game doesn’t go balls-out to show off what the new console can do. That said, the family-friendly characters look great, but it’s the voiceovers and writing were the highlight.
Again, like Pokémon, bugsnax shout out their name as a way to communicate. One of the earliest creatures was the Bunger – a pseudo burger with horns like a ram that is obsessed about ketchup and will charge you if too close.
Equipping a catapult in the style of a 90s Bart Simpson, you fire the ketchup into the path of the Bungers, creating a path where you want them to go; be it into a trap to capture them, or to sift out the hidden Shishkabugs.
Setting up the traps and firing ketchup is super easy in a first-person perspective – nothing complex, but while I was searching for bugs with my SnaxScope scanner (hunts down anything moving and provides further info), I could hear the Bungers walking up and down chanting their name. Simple as it was, it made me chuckle. Simple things for simple people, eh?
At Your Own Pace
There’s no threat of death or any real challenging elements to induce controller throwing (that was reserved for Crash Bandicoot), but it was a little tricky for my three-year-old to grasp on her own.
Ignoring her motor skills, she absolutely loved the characters (as did I) and helped me hunt them down with a few button presses, but Bugsnax wasn’t a title she could confidentially play on her own.
The gameplay is relatively short, and the environments mostly closed off until you complete a story element. It’s a reasonable length of fun to be had and it’s certainly not a throwaway title to play at launch and forget about – it’s surprisingly good and, well, nice.
Again, it’s important to reiterate that Bugsnax isn’t to showcase the power of the PS5 as the haptic feedback was mostly generic, aside from the odd trigger tension, which was brilliant. As a free title with PlayStation+, it’s definitely worth the download to fill up your library until the prices come down or Santa brings you Demon Souls. That’s my excuse, anyway.
Bugsnax Review Summary
A no-brainer really, as Bugsnax is a free-to-download title for PlayStation Plus subscribers and is well worth sitting in your library of PS4 digital titles and demos you’re slowly accumulating if lucky enough to have a PS5 at this time.