Republished on Wednesday, 10th August, 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of August's PS Plus Extra, Premium lineup. The original text follows.
As we've already established in our PlayStation 4 review of Bugsnax, this game is delightfully different. A semi-open world adventure game about capturing sentient snacks and feeding them to your fellow grumpuses? It's a silly concept, but pulled off wonderfully, and underneath the whimsical top layer are some great narrative threads. All of this is of course still true on PS5, but the next-gen version has the edge when it comes to technical performance.
PS5 owners with PS Plus get this version of Bugsnax for no extra cost, and it's undoubtedly the best way to play the game. After a crash landing on Snaktooth Island, it becomes your job to not only hunt down the titular creatures, but to round up everybody and solve the mystery of what happened to Elizabert Megafig. She's the one who summoned you to the food-infested paradise, but has gone missing in the interim. As you piece things together, you'll traverse the whole island, catching Bugsnax of all shapes and sizes as you go.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the PS4 version was its reliance on loading screens; these have all but disappeared on PS5. You'll often need to trek from one side of the map to the other, hunting for specific creatures, and doing so on PS4 meant sitting through a handful of loads. On PS5, these loading periods have been reduced from around 30 seconds or more to just a couple of seconds — it's now more or less a fade out, and fade in. While this means there are still brief pauses between each area of the island, they are greatly shortened, and it makes for a much smoother journey across the map.
The PS5's extra power also comes in handy when it comes to frame rate. The now-last gen version of the game generally runs at 30 frames-per-second, dipping here and there, while on Sony's new console, you're looking at a very smooth 60 frames-per-second. This isn't a game that necessarily needs to run at 60, but it's a nice bonus, and definitely feels better than the slightly choppy performance on PS4.
The majority of gameplay in Bugsnax relates to capturing the culinary critters. Using a variety of tools unlocked as you progress, you'll eventually be able to catch every species. The DualSense controller's fancy features are subtly used here, adding slight but effective feedback via the triggers and haptics. When a Bugsnak is caught in your Snak Trap, you'll be able to feel it trying to bust out, and the adaptive triggers give your camera a "click" when you take a picture. Other tools use the triggers too, such as the Sauce Slinger, which makes the R2 button taut as you pull the slingshot back. These aspects don't reinvent the gameplay by any means, but do afford a nicely tactile feel.
Aside from these factors, this is the exact same game available on PS4, meaning it's funny, easy-going, and ever-so-slightly dark. There are still one or two hiccups — the absence of fast travel is a shame — but this is the best version of a fun, quirky game. If you're a Plus member, it's a no-brainer.
Bugsnax delivers a good time regardless of platform, but it excels on PS5. It benefits from much shorter loading sequences, improved performance, and the DualSense's unique features. All this makes for a more enjoyable excursion to Snaktooth Island. If you play Bugsnax at all — and you absolutely should — do it on PS5.