Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Bugsnax: The Isle of Bigsnax (DLC)

Two years after the release of Bugsnax, developer Young Horses’ best-selling game, they announced, and subsequently released, a free expansion called The Isle of Bugsnax through a free update. Since I enjoyed the original game, the idea of a few hours of extra content intrigued me, so I decided to check it out as soon as I could and found myself entertained once more by the world of Bugsnax, however briefly.

While exploring Snaktooth Island, The Journalist learns of mysterious seismic activity in Simmering Springs. When they arrive at the beach to meet with Snorpy about his findings, an earthquake erupts as a new island, Broken Tooth, emerges from the ocean. With a unique opportunity before them, The Journalist goes on an expedition with fellow Grumpuses Triffany, Chandlo, Floofty and Shelda to uncover the island’s secrets.

Though this expansion is light on story compared to the base game, it maintains the same quality of writing. Players learn a little more about the origins of Bugsnax and their biology, as well as whether or not Snorpy’s claims of a “Grumpinati” are founded or not. Each character’s brief subplots also intertwine towards the end as they tastefully touch on themes of relationships and religious belief.

While players won’t really see too much of anything new in terms of graphics outside of the impressive environments and unique Bugsnax, nor the audio outside of new Bugsnax phrases, there are a few notable gameplay updates. The biggest is that players have a whole new island to explore, complete with its own secrets and challenges. While not as big as Snaktooth Island, Broken Tooth is still fun to explore and analyze for using the terrain against the new Bugsnax, though there’s one barrier that felt a bit too tricky to take down. Progression on Triffany’s storyline is also gated more by Buggy Ball puzzles, though these at least have some good variety in their design.

Expect plenty of Buggy Ball puzzles.

Of course, the main draw is the addition of a dozen Bugsnax, most of which are supersized and require new strategies to reliably capture. The secret to most of these encounters is obtaining Shrink Spice, placed in convenient spots around Broken Tooth, and throwing it at the massive Bugsnax before the spice explodes. Doing so will shrink the Bugsnax down to normal size, though applying Shrink Spice isn’t always the last step and players will typically need to think fast afterwards.

The Bugsnax continue to have unique and interesting designs.

If you manage to find a certain key on Broken Tooth, you’ll unlock a new area on Snaktooth Island, The Triplicate Space, accessible on the Boiling Bay. The Triplicate Space contains a few audio logs that shed some light on the lore of Bugsnax, as well as a few puzzles that provide a good challenge, though they’re not particularly complicated. Completing all of the puzzles will unlock one final challenge for players, where they must figure out how to catch the fastest Bugsnak in the game.

But Broken Tooth isn’t all that this expansion has to offer. Back in Snaxburg, players will quickly become familiar with two new major additions. The first is a mail system, where The Journalist can receive requests that they can complete for unique rewards. These rewards are decorations for your new hut, which is fully customizable in appearance and can even have a second floor. While the mail system easily adds a lot more playtime, it’s also optional, since The Journalist can pass time with any bed and your completion percentage has no impact on the game itself. Additionally, while there are plenty of customization points on the hut, your options can feel limited until you’ve completed enough requests, some of which you may have to look up. Since I got into this system after the fact, I also know firsthand that if you start this expansion after you’ve already beaten the game, you’ll retroactively have a lot of mail to sort through.

Finally having your own hut is a pretty neat addition.

On a minor note, I noticed some haptic feedback that I don’t remember feeling in the base game, though I only felt it while it was raining.

If you already own Bugsnax, you’ll certainly find that, while a little tedious at times, The Isle of Bigsnax is a great addition to an already fun game. With the Bugsnax story more or less concluded, it’ll be interesting to see what Young Horses comes up with next.

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