In a generation that seems obsessed with higher fidelty and stable frame-rates, it’s actually a game called Bugsnax that’s got everyone talking.
The game has this unmistakable quirky style about it, offering the promise of something fresh and different through its eccentric cast and unique world. And yet, it’s also a visual tour de force, and probably the next best advert for Sony’s DualSense Controller aside from the pack-in Astro’s Playroom.
Having tried the game on both PS4 and PS5, I can already see where the game thrives more on the new generation. The visual differences are surprisingly clear, through brighter light effects, better-defined textures, and well-animated shadows, but it’s the work on the controller that’s really sold me.
Astro’s Playroom excited me a great deal when I hopped in. I was totally wowed when I felt the different sensations in the controller moving between surfaces and the use of the microphone had some cool effects.
But to be clear, Sony built that experience purposefully to exhibit what the controller can do and it’ll probably be one of the few products that shows it off in quite that way.
It gives you an idea of how the DualSense can work in a game and what benefits it can offer the player. Of all the launch lineup I’ve played so far, I feel like Bugsnax studied that homework best of all.
From the opening moments of the game when there’s thunder and lightning rolling in the background, you can feel the subtle rumbling in the palms of your hands. It’s both soothing and immersive, and it works perfectly, immediately establishing you in that world.
But it’s not just traditional rumble that can be found here as you can also hear the cute little Bugsnax talk to you through the controller’s speaker, sheepishly calling out their name when caught. There’s also resistance in the right adaptive trigger when taking a picture that makes you feel like you’re actually using a camera.
Not just that but there’s an actual useful audible ‘BING’ that tells you when a Bugsnax is in range of your trap so you can catch them. The use of colours around the touchpad tell you how long you’ve got to collect your trap before the Bugsnack escapes, and there’s a real feeling of tension when rearing back on your slingshot. Sure, Bugsnax ran just fine on PS4 and was fun to play, but the DualSense makes the experience so much better and more entertaining.
Of course, it all helps that the game’s content is also really cheery. I guess you could liken Bugsnax to Pokemon and Pokemon Snap in that you will encounter different types – from running Strawberrys and Raspberrys – to bats which actually ‘taste like french fries’ and even more unexpected creations.
You can take pictures to study them, but the key thing to remember is each Bugsnack has to be caught differently, and so your strategies need to evolve through the game.
So, for the Bungler, as you can see in the video above, you have to wait until they’re dazed and confused before swiping them with a net. However, the little strawbs can be lured toward a trap and as long as you stay out of sight, they’re quite easily caught.
Some Bugsnax are attracted to ketchup, some chocolate, others like another type of Bugsnax and some are just completely unpredictable. It’s up to you to study the snacks, figure out what they like and dislike, and create a strategy to suit in every situation.
Eventually, you’ll get a journal to help you log your findings, and can get a full view of the island via the map, and you’ll learn each area is home to a certain type of snack.
There’s also other cool gadgets you pick up through the game that can make things easier for you. Bugsnax often like to hide in bushes, so you can pull out a rolling ball that bangs into it and forces them to try and escape to another hiding place. That window of time can be the difference in you catching them or not.
All of this is well and good, of course, the big question you’re probably asking yourself is why are you catching them? To feed them to the residents of Snaktooth island so their arms, legs, hands and feet can turn into food, of course. Why else?
But Bugsnax isn’t just about feeding hungry bellies as you’re also hunting for clues to get to Lizbert, the person who drew you to the island in the first place. The hope is, along the way, you’ll uncover the secrets of the Bugsnax to write a story for the ages.
Truthfully, you’ll soon find there’s not much rhyme and reason to anything. There doesn’t need to be, that’s not why any of us are here, honestly. We play because this is just a lovely little game, and a perfect fit for PS+ owners in a very competitive – and expensive – launch window.
There’s a surprising amount of content to chew through and trophies to claim, but the most important thing is the feeling of warmth and joy it brings you. You’ll laugh at the silly humour, find yourself dancing along to the campfire esque songs, and learn to love some – and hate – the game’s vibrant cast.
Bugsnax is just an absolute delight on PlayStation 5. It runs smoothly, is very entertaining to play, and is one of the best examples of a third-party game making use of the DualSense – along with DiRT 5 but that’s another story. Whether you have a PS+ subscription or not, you simply must play Bugsnax to see how it makes use of Sony’s wonderful new controller and make space on your hard drive for a truly delightful adventure.
Just be prepared to get that theme song stuck in your head. Trust me, it didn’t get any less catchy!
+ The best advert for the DualSense after Astro’s Playroom
+ Hypnotic and beautiful world
+ Really entertaining gameplay mechanics
+ So much fun to play
– Some types feel like they can be caught in a similar way
Bugsnax is now available on PS+ for PS4 and PS5, as well as PC on the Epic Games Store.
Tested on PS4 and PS5
Code kindly provided by Popgenda