Bugsnax is the second game from Chicago-based indie developer Young Horses, whose debut title Octodad was a viral hit thanks to its zany humour perhaps instead of its inspired story and gameplay.
Bugsnax carries the developer’s trademark whacky and irreverent comedy and marries it beautifully to a unique bug-collection adventure which spans the isle of Snaktooth, where it’s your job to restore peace between the island’s visitors while solving the mystery of a missing adventurer called Lizbert.
Despite its almost sickeningly vibrant aesthetic, Bugsnax’s wonderful cast of unique characters tell a brilliant story aided in no small part by their fantastic voice actors, who each live up to their respective character’s stereotype – from Shelda the wise prophet through to Cromdo the dodgy New York businessman.
Bugsnax’s core gameplay revolves around catching the titular Bugsnax – a type of creature native to Snaktooth Island, which are a weird combination of food and critter – by using the game’s inventory of gadgets and gizmos, which open up the potential for some satisfying environmental puzzles.
The solutions to these puzzles do get quite intricate in the game’s latter stages, with multiple prerequisites and a fussy process required to catch some of its more elusive creatures. However, you’re all too likely to find a way to “cheese” an objective by exiting and re-entering an area, to catch a duplicate Bugsnak rather than capturing one that’s hiding out in a trickier spot.
Bugsnax was originally a PlayStation 5 launch title, and so was developed under timing constraints and with the pressure to take advantage of Sony’s new hardware in perhaps never-before-seen ways. Granted, the game sang on PS5, yet its arrival on Nintendo Switch confirms that its now-current generation features weren’t a crutch to lean on in the absence of a good time.
Of course, the resolution is lower, the draw distance leaves a lot to the imagination, and the frame rate occasionally chugs – especially in the game’s more action-packed sequences – on Nintendo’s weaker hardware, however Bugsnax is by no means a lesser game for these concessions.
Bugsnax (Nintendo Switch) verdict
If you’ve played the PlayStation 5 version (which was free on PS Plus shortly after launch) or if you have access to Xbox Game Pass, Bugsnax is a hard sell on Nintendo Switch at full price given its availability as part of subscription services elsewhere; taken at face value, Young Horses has developed an excellent Nintendo Switch game which lends itself perfectly to handheld play, thanks to its pick-up-and-play nature.