Review: Bugsnax – A charming idea that struggles in execution

Ever since Bugsnax was announced for PlayStation systems back in 2020, the game has captured people’s attention like few others. With plenty of merchandise and its catchy theme song, it seemed like the strawberries were everywhere despite being Sony-exclusive at the time. Now, a year and a half later, the game has finally taken the leap to the Nintendo console and launched along with the free Isle of BIGsnax DLC. But despite all the excitement, Bugsnax unfortunately does not quite hold the landing on the Switch.

In Bugsnax, you play as an unnamed journalist on the verge of being fired. After receiving an invitation from an explorer named Lizbert to visit the mysterious Snaktooth Island, you set out to discover the island’s secrets for an exclusive scoop. As you explore the island, you encounter Filbo, the mayor of Snaxburg. Filbo informs the player that Lizbert has disappeared and the city is dissolved after a series of earthquakes and disagreements between each other. You will be asked to bring the disgruntled townspeople back to Snaxburg to help gather the story of Bugsnax and find out exactly what happened to Lizbert.

The plot, though simple, does its job nicely, especially in the game finale, and each of the characters you meet along the way is expertly voiced. But often it is the scripture that lacks the goal. Right up until the end of the game, the characters are incredibly one-note, which is disappointing as so much emphasis is placed on them and their back stories. There are a few instances where the game tries to force you to spend time with these characters for parties between the game’s chapters, but it seems far more intrusive than charming. It is only in the last moments of the game that the story picks up speed and the characters begin to show every kind of uniqueness. Obviously, the developers wanted you to fall in love with these inhabitants, but in execution, they were far too generic to worry about.

For those who are confused about what a Bugsnax is at all, they are a group of snack-themed creatures who live on the island. Each species is superbly designed, and they range from Crabble, a crab-apple hybrid, to Weenyworm, which is just a hot dog with googly eyes that acts like a worm. Eating a Bugsnax turns the limb of the person eating them into a piece of food. While eating Bugsnax is a central theme of the game, it’s pretty much a superfluous addition that boils down to some glorified urban adaptations, which was very disappointing for one of the game’s biggest selling points.

There are over 100 species of Bugsnax to catch, each behaving in a unique way, making catching them a puzzle in itself. Despite the large number of Bugsnax, it is frustrating to see such a large number of recolored Bugsnax. For example, Peelbug, which is a citrus peel theme, has four different varieties (green, orange, yellow and red). In fact, the number of completely unique Bugsnax you will encounter is far less than 100, which is a real shame.

As you explore Snaktooth Island, you will find beaches, forests, deserts and frozen tundra. Each locality has unique species to find and you will need to use a variety of gadgets to catch them all. You can use your SnaxScope to scan wild Bugsnax to add them to your journal, and if you do, you will also reveal the general path they follow, giving you a head start in your Bugsnax hunt. As you progress through the game, you will gather more tools, such as a slingshot and a portable spring. The vast majority of Bugsnax you see in the wild are not required to complete the game, only those that certain city dwellers have asked to convince them to return to Snaxburg. Since most of the quests follow exactly the same formula of catching one and turning a body part of a character into a snack, things can quickly become outdated and repetitive.

Despite the prospect of catching 100 different Bugsnax, the game never fulfills its true potential in the gameplay department. It is relatively short and it takes about 5 to 6 hours to clear the main campaign. While the included free DLC content adds yet another land to explore, as well as some new content in the form of new side quests, a customizable home, and an adorable hat mechanic for your Bugsnax, the package still feels like it lacks essential content.

Another dull element comes from the nauseating controls. Movement and general control feel very loose, aggravated by the fact that you are playing in the first person. At times, it feels as if the movement comes directly from an early 3D platformer or a technical demo, without environmental feedback and unrefined physics. While gadgets are fun to use, they are often more of a headache to get to work the way you are expected to use them. For example, a mission has you using a laser pointer to guide a Strabby in a hamster ball through a racetrack. The lack of precision in the control form made this challenge incredibly frustrating, despite how simple the task was. Combine the aggravating controls with an overly vague hint system on how to catch certain Bugsnax, and you get a game that we enjoyed in short bursts with an incredibly patient mindset.

The Nintendo Switch version is also prone to some serious performance issues. Objects are constantly popping up, which can be incredibly jarring for some of the game’s more open locations. Similarly, the game’s load times between areas are incredibly long, sometimes over 30 seconds, completely destroying any flow. It is also worth noting that the game was softly locked several times during our time with it, forcing a reload of a previous storage. And while it’s not a dealbreaker, textures are also much lower resolution than you might expect, especially on the environment and shadows. While these issues may be an appropriate trade-off for some to have Bugsnax on the go, the technical issues here may be enough to look at playing the game on platforms other than Switch. We’re told that the team is aware of some graphical and physical issues with the non-PlayStation versions, so hopefully some of these will be fixed with patches.


Bugsnax is a game that is full of potential but struggling with the actual execution. Catching hundreds of adorable snack-themed creatures sounds like a great idea, but the lack of memorable characters, a frustrating control scheme, repetitive gameplay, and numerous technical and design issues, especially on Switch, provide a somewhat lukewarm experience. There is certainly fun to be had here, but once you have played a few hours, the magic disappears and you are left with a disappointing game that does not live up to expectations.