PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC
Publisher: Young Horses, Inc
Developer: Young Horses, Inc
The oddly lighthearted and heartfelt adventure Bugsnax launched November 2020, making it one of the first games many played on PlayStation 5, which was released the same day. Nearly a year later, Young Horses, the game’s developer, announced during a Sony State of Play the game would be getting a new DLC. Called The Isle of Bigsnax, the expansion will be free for players who already own the base game. On top of a fresh story, which should take three to five hours to complete according to the creators, fans can expect a slew of new content. And while it’s aiming to release in the first half of 2022, we got an early hands-on look at the game at GDC.
Adding hours of playtime to the original game, Young Horses announced players would receive their own in-game dwelling to renovate. Now you can feel like part of the Grumpus community. The hut begins as a glorified pile of sticks. But, by completing requests from fellow villagers, players gain access to options for furniture, paint, decorative items, and even an upstairs. Many of these received objects reflect the giver. The exercise-obsessed Chandlo may offer players a weightlifting trophy, while Snaxburg’s Mayor Filbo might gift an adorable stuffed Grumpus.
New players are shown to their new abode right after entering Snaxburg for the first time. However, returning players get a tour of their shack upon talking to Filbo and find their mailboxes already stuffed with retroactive rewards for any requests they’ve unwittingly completed. The developers at Young Horses explain the pile of new tasks and objectives should give players a good reason to continue exploring Snaktooth island and engaging with its inhabitants.
Keeping this goal in mind, Young Horses’ latest expansion will also introduce hats for your favorite scrumptious Snax. Did you ever wonder what happened to the head adornments of your Grumpus companions after they take on a Bugsnax form? Well, it looks like the island’s tasty residents got them, and it’s up to you to track them down. More than just a simple and silly cosmetic feature, players have to earn each hat in a scavenger hunt-like search. Hats can be found on certain Bugsnax in the wild, and capturing them grants access to a new cap. There are around 25 in total and include a chef’s hat, witch’s hat, and Chandlo’s “Snax” baseball cap. The developers hope this gives players a fun challenge that makes revisiting previous locations worthwhile.
I got a chance to go hands-on with the upcoming DLC, and, from what I’ve played so far, the expansion will be another merry romp through a strange world. The Isle of Bigsnax gives players more – and bigger – Bugsnax, content that builds on the original experience, and a chance to dive deeper into the relationships and story from the base game.
The demo begins just before the point of no return in the initial story and sets me on a beach with the muscle-bound Chandlo, scientific Floofty, bone-carrying archeologist Triffany, and spiritual Shelda. The titular island has appeared in the middle of the ocean, and, having made it to the beach, we are now out of range from the rest of the villagers. The experience boasts numerous puzzles, and most are built around my arsenal of unusual gadgets. The first puzzle asks me to bridge a gap by lighting a torch. In another instance, I rdiscovered several mazes with moving pillars and winding corridors too small for any Grumpus to fit into. However, it was perfectly sized for my ball-bound Strabby, which I guided through the obstacles to hit a door-opening switch.
Players can also look forward to several larger-than-life Bugsnax encounters. My first new sighting, a giant Bunger, sends Chandlo flying into a pile of jars that just happen to contain dust that makes Bigsnax smaller. But even slimmed down, the creature still needs to be stunned to catch. So, I grab the tripwire and then feed my prize to the weakened Chandlo, giving him the strength to go on.
The team then sets up camp, and the story begins to take shape. This archeological adventure may uproot accepted beliefs about Mother Naturae, who Shelda worships, as the jars of Bugsnax-catching dust was found at her shrine. At the camp, I have a choice between four different quests. However, I’m instructed to follow Triffany’s storyline for this preview. She has me work my Snax-guiding magic to open a few blocked-off areas. This includes one puzzle that triggers a boulder-like Bigsnax to pop out at us, a nice Indiana Jones reference that highlights the game’s humorous tone.
I encounter plenty more Bigsnax in my short adventure, though I don’t have any handy shrink dust to capture them. Each enlarged Snax takes on an entertaining form, like a sentient celery stick that carries separate, chocolate-looking critters on its back. I saw lobster made from macaroni noodles that loved cheese. And one of my favorite new Snax was called a Millimochi, made of a group of frosty treats lined up to create a multi-snack creature.
The Isle of Bigsnax is aiming to come out in early 2022. Considering that the window is waning fast, fans might soon have their hands on the expansion. Including the hut, hats, and fresh adventure, the new content is about 80 percent as big as the original game, according to the developers. So, if it took you 10 hours to finish the base experience, it may take around 8 hours to explore everything the super-sized expansion has to offer.