GameByte Review: Bugsnax (PS4)

Ever since its announcement at the PS5 Reveal event in June 2020, Bugsnax has plagued my dreams. Nay, my nightmares. This family-friendly game, with cute little critters roaming around, haunted my every waking moment as well. How could this charming little game, full of walking fruits and fluffy creatures, be inspired by BIOSHOCKI had to know. I screamed into the night. “Just what IS Bugsnax?”. I begged my GameByte colleagues to enlighten me, tears streaming down my face. Well, I found out, and now you can too thanks to our review of Bugsnax!

This delightfully dark tale is as sweet as the Strabby’s that roam the island. What is it? Even after playing, I’m left trying to… ‘ketchup’.


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Credit: Young Horses

“Like David Cronenberg directed Love Actually.” I snorted to myself, firing yet another round of hot sauce at the Buffalocust. 

First things first, I’m not going to go into detail about the story. Bugsnax is an art, a masterpiece that deserves to be experienced first-hand. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions that moved me in a way that not many games have managed to do so before.

There’s a visceral, hair-raising sense of discomfort throughout your visit to Snaktooth Island. In the first few hours, I couldn’t place my finger on why. But the dissonance between the vivid world and the slightly-off-key chords, the heartwrenching scenes, presented with an empty smile, and the constant mystery of Elizabert Megafig hanging over your head, create a vibe that’s incredibly uncomfortable to play through, in the best way possible.

You play as a journalist in this first-person, half horror, half mystery game. Hungry for your next scoop, you set off to interview the Grumpuses who are exploring Snaktooth Island in search of the truth behind the tasty creatures known as Bugsnax. Interviewing the Grumpses leads to clues that help you to solve the mystery behind the whole game – the disappearance of Elizabert and her girlfriend Eggabell. But more than that, interviewing the Grumpuses leads to friendships. Each character has their own story woven into their personality. You can’t help but get attached.  


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Credit: Young Horses

Yes, you did read that right. Elizabert and Eggabell are, explicitly, gay. This isn’t a ‘will they, won’t they?’ played off for laughs. They are madly in love and show each other compassion, love and care at every opportunity. It’s so refreshing to see a healthy LGBTQ+ relationship in a video game. I won’t spoil their love story, because it’s theirs to tell. Couple goals though.

Another piece of strong representation comes from Floofty Fizzlebean, one of the two eccentric inventor siblings in the game. It’s never mentioned directly, but Floofty is non-binary, with the cast always referring to them with neutral pronouns from the moment they’re introduced. 

This level of respect for identity was carried throughout the production of Bugsnax. All the voice actors had paper at the front of their mic detailing their character’s name and pronouns to ensure the Grumpuses weren’t misgendered. 

Sonic the Hedgehog x Ben 10 is not a fanfiction genre I expected to see on my screen, but that’s just the type of game Bugsnax is.


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Credit: Young Horses

There is one major issue with the Playstation 4 release of Bugsnax. The frame rate is borderline unplayable at times. The game runs like a slideshow when the Grumpuses are in Snaxburg, hitting as low as 10/15 FPS at times. This might be improved on the next-generation release of the PlayStation 5, but this is a review for the PlayStation 4 version, so we can only judge accordingly. 

When playable, the gameplay is simplistic, but surprisingly complex at times. Each Bugsnax species interacts with the environment and other Bugsnax in different ways. This can lead to a lot of experimentation with how to catch them in your trap. These puzzles were plentiful, but never felt confusing or frustrating. 

The side quests were very repetitive. A lot of ‘Find a Bug, become a Snak.’ Unfortunately, this is also the case with a lot of the character recruitment missions.

The game is pretty linear, but it feels much more open than it is. Players are afforded the freedom to ignore the story and just catch Bugsnax, if they want to. It almost feels Metroidvania at times tho, as many of the Snax aren’t able to be captured on first visit. Instead, players will need to use some of the gadgets provided to them through the story.


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Credit: Young Horses

From snax on the beach with Beffica, to body horror with Floofty, Bugsnax feels like a trip gone wrong, in the best way possible. The relentless colours swirl around Snaktooth Island, wrapping me up in the narrative as my Grumpus friends and I sleepwalk into disaster. 

The whole experience is very stylish. The Grumpuses almost feel like stuffed toys; with textured fur and adorable beady eyes, the whole game almost has a toy box feel to it, which again, contrasts the surprisingly dark narrative. It’s hard not to talk about the charming and unique style of Bugsnax in this review, and honestly I could talk about it for days.

Music/Sound Effects

Bugsnax’s viral popularity can be attributed to the British indie pop band Kero Kero Bonito. They skyrocketed to fame after their hit song ‘Flamingo’ went viral on TikTok in 2018. I’ve loved Kero Kero Bonito for ages, so as soon as I heard their distinctive pop sound show up in the PS5 trailer, ‘Bugsnax’ has been the soundtrack of my life. Its catchy theme song can be heard echoing throughout my tiny flat in the early hours of the morning. It’s my go-to song when my Player 2 and I are cooking, it’s my alarm clock sound, I’m obsessed.

Whilst Kero Kero Bonito is what springs to mind when discussing the music of Bugsnax, I’d like to also mention how great the ambient sound is. With flat notes ripping apart the cosy atmosphere, the tonal dissonance sets me on edge when interviewing characters and exploring the land. It sets me on edge every time.

Bugsnax also takes great advantage of the DualShock PS4 controller. We can only imagine how great it will be with the PS5 DualSense. The controller lights up when on a timer, and the Bugsnaxs can be heard through the controller speaker. It’s a hilariously small detail, but it really helps to bring the world to life.


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Credit: Young Horses

One of my favourite things about Bugsnax is the funny writing, and you can’t not mention it in a review. It has a cast of surprisingly deep characters, with oodles of personality. Punny Bugsnax names, like Fryder and Shishkabug, spark so much serotonin in my brain it’s unbelieveable. It’s nice to have a game that knows how ridiculous it is and really lean into that.

And, believe it or not, I do see the Bioshock influences now. Snaktooth Island is looming on disaster, with a similar vibe to Rapture.

One of my favourite parts of the game is the star-studded line-up. It tickles me every time when I hear Sonic the Hedgehog (Roger Craig Smith) as Snorpy Fizzlebean. I had tears of laughter rolling down my face as the deranged Goro Aketchi (Robbie Daymond) chirps as a tiny Buffalocust. This is a stacked line-up, with other familiar faces popping in from time to time. 


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Credit: Young Horses

We like to talk about Accessibility when we review a game, but Bugsnax didn’t deliver too many options. The game has subtitles on as a default, and this is a nice change of pace, because I need subtitles myself. It’s nice to not have to dig through options to find them. We didn’t see an option to turn subtitles off, nor an option to change the size of the subtitles. This is a shame, because they were quite small to read at times.

What I particularly like about Bugsnax is its affordability. If you’re a PS Plus member, you can add Bugsnax to your library and it’ll be free to download for PS5 users on Sony’s next-gen console. Whilst the initial cost of a console is pricey, it’s nice to know Bugsnax is free if you’re planning on picking up a PS5 in the new year. Even if you’re not thinking about picking up a PlayStation 5, you can still reserve a free copy for when you do want to upgrade.


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Credit: Young Horses

Think Bioshock, meets Viva Pinata, meets Pokemon Snap. That’s Bugsnax. I can finally rest, I know the answer to my questions.

Young Horses specialises in combining the weird and the wonderful. Octodad was a great example of this, and the last 6 years of Bugsnax development have paid off. The rumours were not baloney – everybody is talking about Bugsnax, and for good reason. Sadly, the performance issues knock it down a peg, but it’s still absolutely worth adding to your games library!

Bugsnax was provided for review by Young Horses. This review of Bugsnax was completed on PS4.

Bugsnax will be available for both PS4 and PS5, as well as PC and Mac.

Featured Image Credit: Young Horses