Recently revealed to be part of the launch line-up for the PS5, Bugsnax is an adorable adventure game that sees players venture out in search of the titular snack-like creatures. It's another wacky creation from the minds behind Octodad: Dadliest Catch and it looks to blend elements from Pokémon Snap and other more traditional puzzle games. Ahead of the game's launch, I had the opportunity to explore the world of Snacktooth Island and the opening hour of the game, and I was able to speak with Young Horses' president, Philip Tibitoski.
In Bugsnax, you play as a journalist with a penchant for the weird and wonderful, who has ventured to Snacktooth Island after learning of the titular creatures. After arriving at the island, Elizabert Megafig, the lady who first contacted you, is nowhere to be seen and you're left to explore without a guide or a sense of direction. It's not long before you stumble up into Filbo though, a cute and harmless creature that is struggling to fend for himself. Travelling alongside your new companion you then make your way to the city of Snacksberg and discover many of the part-bug-part-snack creatures on your journey.
There are 100 total species of Bugsnax that you'll be able to encounter and I found the designs of all that I saw to be equal parts creative and adorable. Two standouts were the hilariously named Crapple, which is a crab made from segments of apples, and Fryder, which is a spider with french fries as legs and a saucepot for a head. What caught my eye the most though was a giant flying pizza that soared across the sky in the distance. I asked Phillip whether there would be more largescale Bugsnax such as this to capture and he confirmed that what I saw wasn't just window dressing. From this, I can speculate that there will be some bigger beasts for us to capture later on, hopefully in some pretty elaborate ways.
Catching the various Bugsnax filled up the bulk of the demo and each felt like a small puzzle that I had to solve to lead to their capture. You first need to scan a creature you've encountered Pokémon Snap-style to find out details regarding their behaviour and movement patterns. You then need to thumb through your bag full of tools to determine what will be the best fit for the job. In the short demo, I had access to a button-operated trap, a bug net, and a slingshot that could be used to fire tasty materials such as ketchup and chocolate.
The first creature I encountered was Strabby, a cute google-eyed strawberry that would retreat to safety if anybody came too close. With this in mind, I set up a trap and hid behind a rock before waiting for the very perfect moment to slam it shut remotely. Later Bugnax required multiple steps for me to capture them and I had to use more than one tool at a time. Bungers, for example, are addicted to ketchup and can't be caught in a typical button trap, so I had to trick two into charging into one other by laying down a trail of alluring sauce.
Everything here, from the downright crazy designs of the Bugsnax to the hefty amount of puns being churned out, feels designed to make your sides split and it's hard not to give in. One thing that freaked me out and made me laugh in equal measure was how the limbs of the NPCs start to transform into food based on the Bugsnax that they've eaten in a process known as Snackification. I have no idea why these characters would want to want to willingly disfigure themselves for food, but Phillip explained that this will be explained later on.
I was concerned in the first half of the demo that things felt a little linear, but fortunately, this wasn't the case once I reached Snacksberg. Here I had to do tasks for 12 NPCs to convince them to move back into town and I could complete these in any order that I wished. These tasked showed more variety than just capturing Bugsnax too; in one quest I had to navigate a Bugsnax in a hamster ball through an obstacle course with a laser pointer, and in another, I had to spy on one of the villagers to report gossip back to another nosey NPC.
The demo that I played was on the PC (with a DualShock 4 connected), but Young Horses' Phillip Tibitoski was able to talk me through how the title utilises the power of the new PS5 hardware. He explained that loading screens in Bugsnax only take about three to four seconds due to the power of the SSD. He also told us that the DualSense uses haptic feedback to enable players to feel the difference of walking on different types of terrain such as gravel, snow, and sand. The speaker in the controller is also used to play the cries of different Bugsnax and projects key sound effects such as Bugsnax running into traps.
This charming adventure is shaping up to be a weird and wonderful addition to the PS5 launch lineup, and I can't wait until I get the chance to return to Snacksberg. I found its many snack-like creatures to be adorable and well-designed and finding out how to catch each one was like solving a puzzle in and of itself. Be sure to check back for our full thoughts when Bugsnax launches on the PC (Epic Games Store), PS4 and PS5 on November 12.
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