- Visual Representation of Dialogue - 7
- Visual Representation of Sound - 4
- Visual Cues - 5
- Controller Vibration - 10
- Visually Engaging - 8
- Remappable Controls - 0
- Overall Ease - 4
Bugsnax, from Young Horses, is the feel-good launch game of next-gen. You play as an adorable journalist setting off to Snaktooth Island at the request of an adorable explorer intent on finding also adorable Bugsnax— half bug, half snak beings that you trap and eat and then morph into. Everything about it is cute and whimsical and fun. Unless you’re a disabled player, then maybe not so much.
Bugsnax feels very much like a game in which developers assumed they were making a simple and lighthearted game and due to its simplicity, there was no need to consider options that allow for greater accessibility. Above you see the only options available to players. Very standard audio, controller, and game options (the presentation of which is far too small). There’s no button remapping, no colorblind toggles, no desperately needed text or UI scaling, and no option for a more legible font.
Trapping Bugsnax is about problem-solving and creative thinking, which is great but the lack of guidance really impacted my ability to enjoy the game. Perhaps due to the fact that during this week of next-gen coverage and the US Presidential election my brain is absolutely done functioning the way I want it to, I just couldn’t enjoy trying to figure out how to find hiding Bugsnax and then plotting how to lure them out and trap them.
In the image above, I’m supposed to be throwing the little ball I’m holding, aiming it with the reticle you can’t actually see at the center of the image.
After I finally found my reticle and aimed my Bugsnak ball, I was off on my quest. The quest outlined above is both very hard to see when playing on a TV and sitting a reasonable distance from the screen and assumes knowledge I do not actually have. I have not yet discovered chocolate in the game, nor do I know where to go to collect said undiscovered chocolate. I have also not yet discovered Kweebles and have no earthly idea where to even begin looking. Pairing this with the lack of on-screen quest markers except for those indicating a new quest available from a character and the lack of a minimap, wayfinding is not always easy.
While this open-ended approach is likely by design, meant to encourage players to explore and discover, there also needs to be more optional guidance for players like me who are mentally exhausted and just want to have fun, as well as players with cognitive disabilities. When I’m struggling to figure out what seems like it should be relatively easy to figure out, I’m not always inspired to buckle down and figure things out through trial and error and exploration. It just makes me feel inept.
While everything outlined above speaks to a general lack of inclusion and accessibility, the deaf and hard of hearing accessibility is actually okay. At least when playing on a PS5 with the DualSense.
While there is no option to scale the subtitles, they’re a decent size and the unique backgrounds for each character lends itself nicely to legibility (most of the time).
The downside to the subtitles is that they’re presented in that one-word-at-a-time slow scrolling fashion unless players want to continually mash X to speed them along.
The caveat about Deaf and HoH accessibility being tied to which console players are on is due to the distinct vibration the DualSense offers and the lack of visual cues for Bugsnax players are trying to catch. There’s a subtle haptic rumble that resembles a tap and a faint sound that comes from the DualSense controller to add to some of that immersion the PS5 wants to bleed out. Even if players are not facing in the direction of the Bugsnak, that will alert them to its presence.
There are only visual indicators of said Bugsnak’s presence if players are looking in the right direction. I can’t speak to how distinct the vibration is on the DualShock controller and whether it works to replace visual indicators.
Bugsnax is an adorable game that people have been so eager to dive into yet proves to be a largely inaccessible experience for disabled players due to minimal options and a lack of clear guidance.
A review copy of Bugsnax was provided by the developer / publisher.