Bugsnax for Xbox review: A quirky tale of insecurities, relationships, and addiction

Bugsnax Xbox Isle Of Bigsnax
Bugsnax Xbox Isle Of Bigsnax (Image credit: Windows Central)

I vividly remember the announcement trailer for Bugsnax. With a new generation of video game consoles on the horizon, players were eager to see what powerful machines like the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S were capable of. And as part of the PS5 reveal event, this quirky adventure game starring outlandish food/bug hybrid creatures was one such title. I definitely wasn't expecting PlayStation to leverage such a strange, offbeat indie title for its premiere PS5 launch lineup, but admittedly, I found the decision genuinely refreshing.

Whether you were enraptured or repulsed by Bugsnax's grand debut, there was no denying the unique appeal of this colorful creation from developer Young Horses. From the charming Muppet-like humanoids of this world to the adorable food-shaped critters, I hadn't seen anything like it before when it comes to the world of video games. Despite my interest in the release and it being included with PlayStation Plus at launch, for me, Bugsnax was, unfortunately, a game that got lost in the next-gen shuffle.

I kept telling myself that I would give Bugsnax the time it deserves one day. After over a year of PlayStation exclusivity, a release on Xbox Series X|S, and the addition of the Isle of Bigsnax DLC, I've finally sunk my teeth into this weird sandbox full of mouth-watering monstrosities. While, on the surface, it appears the game focuses on the titular beasties and their mysterious origins, Bugsnax deeply connected with me in how it handles everyday relationships' complexities. Under its bright, whimsical exterior is a deceptively reflective story that dissects our constant insecurities, endless pursuits for better lives, and the horrors of addiction.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Young Horses. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

Bugsnax: What's good

Bugsnax Xbox Snow

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

For players like myself who were immediately enamored by the introduction of the wacky little creatures called Bugsnax, Young Horses jam-packed the diverse locations of the game with over 100 catchable edible insects. Much like the thrill of playing a new generation of Pokémon for the first time, one of the most exciting elements of playing Bugsnax was discovering the cleverly designed beasties in each biome.

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DeveloperYoung Horses
PublisherYoung Horses
Xbox versionXbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Game size9.3GB
Play time10+ hours
Xbox Game PassYes
Launch price$25

From hilarious standouts like the dopey-sounding and looking hamburger-beetle Bunger to the ice cream sundae from hell called Scoopy Banoopy, I was consistently eager to push forward in the game and encounter fresh Bugsnax. Even when it came to subtle variations of existing creatures like Strabby and Razzby, these dumb creations always put a smile on my face.

Bugsnax Xbox Mozza

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While watching these outrageous Bugsnax from afar is entertaining enough, much of the fun and core gameplay loop revolves around finding clever ways to capture these pesky insects. Players are provided with a handful of essential bug-hunting tools like the Sauce Slinger, Snak Trap, Bug Net, and several others. However, not all Bugsnax can be trapped using the same methods, and frequently locking these dexterous snaks down required some worthwhile strategizing on my part.

Young Horses also managed to successfully broach meaningful topics like sexuality, insecurity, and even substance abuse.

Basic Bugsnax like Fryder could easily be caught with your Snak Trap and a well-placed blob of ketchup from trust Sauce Slinger. Still, more sophisticated creatures like Picantis, a Frankensteined fusion of Mexican food and a praying mantis, required increased legwork. Because Picantis was a fiery snak, I had to lure the massive beast into a body of water to extinguish the flames to capture it. There are a handful of distinctive means of collecting Bugsnax in the game, and, for the most part, this variety kept the overall gameplay fun and engaging.

Bugsnax Xbox Megamaki

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Discovering and identifying strange creatures is what I expected from my time with Bugsnax, but I wasn't prepared for the heavy dissections of the relationships of the inhabitants of Snaktooth Island. Not only did Bugsnax deliver some of the most compelling character dynamics I've experienced in a video game in recent years, but Young Horses also managed to successfully broach meaningful topics like sexuality, insecurity, and even substance abuse.

From Wiggle, the one-hit-wonder hoping that consuming Bugsnax will give her the inspiration she needs to break out of her creative rut, to Chandlo, the charismatic bodybuilder who's consuming Bugsnax to increase his strength and performance, essentially every character you encounter during your adventure is struggling with inadequacies they desperately want to correct. Their insecurities are instantly relatable and, while undoubtedly exaggerated, add worthwhile human elements to the game's storytelling.

The vivid environments scattered throughout the campaign are exploding with color and charming details, and the entire experience runs at a rock-solid 60 FPS.

Another fantastic addition shipping alongside the Xbox version of Bugsnax is the release of the Isle of Bugsnax DLC. For folks like myself who were left wanting a little more from the core campaign, this expansion adds a few meaningful hours of content to the side quests in Bugsnax. With a gaggle of brand-new Bugsnax, some desperately needed new puzzles, and excellent adventures with Chandlo, Triffany, and several others, the Isle of Bugsnax DLC will go a long way in making the overall Bugsnax package far more enticing.

It's also worth noting how beautifully Bugsnax looks and performs on Xbox Series X. The vivid environments scattered throughout the campaign are exploding with color and charming details, and the entire experience runs at a rock-solid 60 FPS. Bugsnax might not be the most graphically demanding game on the market, but I was repeatedly mesmerized by the visuals while playing on my Eve Spectrum 4K monitor.

Bugsnax: What's not good

Bugsnax Xbox Chandlo

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While I generally found the creature collecting mechanics of Bugsnax interesting and innovative, outside of that, there's an unfortunate lack in overall puzzle variety during the game's core campaign. I did appreciate the pacing at which Young Horses introduced new gadgets and even sauces for your Sauce Slinger, but after obtaining all the tools at my disposal, I felt slightly pigeonholed into using the same few items. There are thrilling boss encounters towards the tail end of Bugsnax that dramatically help break up some of the monotony. However, the uses for your different snak-hunting apparatuses ultimately grow slightly stale.

Bugsnax is also a remarkably short adventure. Players looking to push through the main story can finish the game in roughly 6 or 7 hours. I didn't have a tremendous problem with the overall length, but I could absolutely understand some individuals wanting a bit more meat from the game. The Isle of Bugsnax DLC is a greatly welcomed addition that adds a lot of supplemental customization items, but even for completionists aiming to finish all the side quests and catch every snak in the game, you can probably unlock everything in a little over 15 hours.

Bugsnax: Should you play it?

Bugsnax Xbox Beach

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

In a world full of God of Wars, Halo Infinites, and Grand Theft Autos, we need more games like Bugsnax. I understand that some players will find the art style or characters cartoonish or childish, but hidden under the bubbly exterior is a genuinely fascinating exploration of what it means to be human. Heroes like Master Chief haven't historically been allowed to show weakness or air their insecurities. In Bugsnax, vulnerabilities aren't faults, merely areas we could use compassionate assistance.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Bugsnax and the Isle of Bigsnax DLC. The characters, creatures, and environments in this quirky title from Young Horses remind me of the magic I felt playing colorful platformers as a child. The goofy nature of the game might not be for everyone, but If you're in the mood for a joyous romp packed with hilariously crafted food bugs, satisfying creature collecting, and a surprisingly touching and heartfelt story, Bugsnax is well worth giving a shot on Xbox Game Pass.

Miles Dompier

Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.