You find yourself marooned on an island and there is something causing the nearby bushes to shake. A… strawberry with googly eyes peeks out, then goes walking off, cheerfully singing “Strabby” to itself. It looks like you are about to have a pretty strange day.
Welcome to Snaktooth Island. You headed this way after getting a request for help from Lizbert Megafig, an explorer of some renown. As a journalist looking for a big break, you head off, hoping to spot a cryptid. But you find the little town where everyone lived is deserted, with no sign of Lizbert. And all around you are these odd creatures that look like animated food items, and everyone is pretty crazy about them.
Turns out that Lizbert was the chief Bugsnax wrangler in town, and with her gone, everyone is left rather hungry. You start to find the various people who used to live in the town and try to convince them all to go back. To do this you often need to deal with their most pressing issues, which generally involves feeding them several specific Bugsnax. Armed with a handy scanner that lets you see that path a critter will take and what it likes or hates, you can start puzzling out how to capture them. Some are easy: put your trap down on the path they walk and slam it shut when they get close. But some creatures are too big to catch in your trap. Or they are too fast or fly overhead, or they set the trap on fire. Get ready to get creative if you want to catch each and every one of them, and don’t be surprised if you spot one and can’t work out how to get it yet, you might not have the right trap just yet.
If you didn’t have a quest for that Bugsnak, at best it can be donated to get a slightly larger backpack, otherwise, you are just ticking a box for the sake of ticking a box.
Oh hey buddy
While I loved catching the various creatures and seeing how food was given a way to walk or fly around, unless you have a specific quest or want to tick their names off in your collection, there is very little you can do with the various Bugsnax. Possibly as a result of this, almost every quest you get is a fetch quest involving you finding and catching specific critters and bringing them back to the quest giver. At first, it is one or two bugs in the area you are in, but eventually, they ask for far away treats and you end up grabbing as much as your little backpack can hold.
While I really enjoyed the various characters on the island and helping them deal with their personal issues and watching them grow, there were just too many fetch quests. Only a handful of quests didn’t follow the exact pattern of: get told about a Bugsnax, go catch them and feed to NPC. After a few hours of doing this again and again, it gets pretty old. Considering how many characters you are doing this for, and then doing it again for their sidequests, I could feel my enthusiasm for the game dwindling.
I think part of the frustration with the sidequests is the way you catch the various Bugsnax. Some of your traps end up having very few uses, while other traps are used all the time. In some cases you don’t even need traps, you need other Bugsnax to catch the things you want. The game doesn’t provide much help with this, and there is one trap that has a nifty advanced use that I only learnt about because a side quest told me it works that way. Maybe that is a lack of experimentation on my part, but in general, I didn’t feel inspired to mess around to find a way to catch everything I saw. If you didn’t have a quest for that Bugsnak, at best it can be donated to get a slightly larger backpack, otherwise, you are just ticking a box for the sake of ticking a box.
Totally nothing strange here
I really enjoyed the story and the creatures, and my time with some of the villagers felt like I had helped them grow or I came to love almost all of them. But some more variety in how you hunt creatures and the quests you get is sorely needed here. Getting bored in such a colourful, whimsical place shouldn’t be possible, but it felt like a slog at too many points.