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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bugsnax is a downloadable puzzle/adventure game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PCs. The game's cartoonish and whimsical, with an underlying mystery that will appeal to kids and adults. There's no notable violence, language or sexuality -- and it's notable that the (missing) leader of the colony you visit is female and is shown to be in a same-sex relationship at the start of the game, but there isn't a fuss made or discrimination against this character that shows up in the gameplay. (Note that while the game itself is currently free for PS5 owners, they will need a subscription to Sony's PlayStation Plus service to obtain it, which costs between $5 and $10 per month, depending on the subscription option your choose. A standalone version is available for PC players.)
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What's it about?
In BUGSNAX, players take on the role of a reporter who's invited to Snaktooth Island by explorer Elizabert (Lizbert) Megafig, who claims to have discovered Bugsnax, a half-bug/half-snack creature. When you arrive, though, she has vanished and her followers are scattered across the island. You'll work to reunite them and find Lizbert, as you capture a variety of Bugsnax using a combination of bait and tools provided by the island's inhabitants. This can be anything from setting a trap and waiting for the Bugsnax to wander into it to luring them to an area using a slingshot and ketchup. Some Bugsnax will take or move your traps, so there's some strategy involved in the capture of each creature. As the game progresses, you can customize your new friends with different outfits, etc. as you continue to feed them.
Is it any good?
This is an adventure game that is perfectly suited for a new console launch or casual game players looking for a light adventure. Bugsnax is charming, fun, and not too challenging, but ultimately, something that will likely be forgettable in a few years. The game does a wonderful job of creating a vibrant world, filled with imaginative characters and critters -- and it has more emotional depth than you would expect as you reunite the colony and search for Lizbert. The developer should also get big points for inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters without being preachy. But ultimately, the title is plagued by repetitive gameplay that takes away from the overall experience. (Fetching Bugsnax to feed villagers before you can go on to the next task is entertaining at first, especially given the challenge in collecting certain creatures, but it gets old very quickly.)
On the PlayStation 5, the game (like Astro's Playroom) is a showcase for the DualSense controller, using haptic feedback as a way to make the game more immersive and adapting the triggers to the onscreen situation (i.e. you feel the tension when you pull back a slingshot's band). Don't misunderstand: Bugsnax is a fun game and certainly one that you won't regret playing. But it's the videogame equivalent of eating a bag of chips. It will bring joy when you play, but you'll crave something more substantive when you're done.
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Free (Free with PlayStation Plus Membership)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Young Horses
- Release date: November 12, 2020
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Violence
- Last updated: April 16, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.