I find it interesting how The Isle of Bigsnax mimics the entirety of Bugsnax itself. On the surface, it’s just another area of Snaktooth Island, the game’s original setting, to explore – even though this one isn’t technically on Snaktooth itself. When I finished exploring and completed all the new missions, my first thought was “is this it?” However, much like Snaktooth itself, there’s more to this update than meets the eye, what looks like fast food quickly becomes a multi-course round trip in the world of Bugsnax, including including a brief overview of future additions to the menu. The longer you eat, the better this meal is, but you’ll need to be patient to get to the good sides.
Bigsnax Island itself is called Broken Tooth, although calling it “big snax island” is a perfect descriptor. The inhabitants of Broken Tooth are all enormous Bugsnax, which have grown to gigantic proportions, and you again attempt to capture them all, despite being impossible to trap by the normal means employed in the base game. Two of the 11 unique Bugsnax on this island – the Bunger Royale and the Deviled Eggler – are retreads of the previous ‘snax; the others are new to the Bugsnax ranks. There’s Spaghider, a spaghetti spider with a meatball for an abdomen; Cheddorb, a rolling ball of cheese with wide eyes; and Millimochi, a slick set of mochi balls that follow you around as you try to complete tasks, among other things.
To capture these new creatures, you will have to resort to other means: Shrink Spice. Canisters of this spice are scattered all over the island, and picking one up starts a 30-second countdown. At the end of this countdown, the canister explodes and any nearby Bugsnak shrinks, allowing players to use normal traps to catch it. I like the idea of an extra obstacle, and I like the idea of Shrink Spice. It can only be found in specific locations around Broken Tooth, and you can only carry one jar at a time. It’s not something like, say, Sauce Slinger sauces where you can carry 20 at a time and reload each time you see a plant. Shrink Spice is more valuable, more finished, and therefore more important. Limiting the resource like this was a good idea, as it makes the resource seem crucial to success, and finding it near a big Bugsnak you’ve never caught before has a lot more impact . If you could throw it on demand like ketchup or the other sauces used in the base game, this new biome would have been way too easy.
However, even with the Shrink Spice mechanic, I finished Broken Tooth in around two hours, which seems a bit short. Ultimately, it’s just another set of food bugs to catch in a new area, with the goal of completing tasks and advancing a story, a story that begins and ends in Broken Tooth.
The story told around these huge insects, while showing the same lack of fear of heavy material that the base game showed, doesn’t leave the same impression as the base game’s narrative. There are some serious topics covered — science versus religion via Floofty and Shelda, separation anxiety via Chandlo, and more. – but they feel underdeveloped and lack the time to develop fully. I wanted to learn more about the Shelda and Floofty debates, for example, and I wish that exploration had continued into the main game when I returned to Snaktooth Island. I enjoyed Bugsnax’s story, about a group of characters who start out broken but slowly work through their differences through discussion rather than destruction, eventually forming a bond that ultimately saves their lives. The brief story told on Broken Tooth fits right into the arc, with the aforementioned science vs. religion debate being a prime example, but I wanted more. Thankfully, a slew of new mechanics and features help keep the DLC from feeling completely underwhelming.
Undoubtedly the biggest and most important addition of this update is fast travel. The time saved by not having to run from Sizzling Sands to Flavor Falls or Frosted Peak is invaluable, and it improves the pace of the game immensely as a result. I reached the endgame in this part in about two-thirds of the time it took me in my original 2020 run, and although the game sometimes lags back then, I didn’t feel like it this time.
The second major addition – although this one is admittedly less impactful than fast travel – is having your own cabin in Snaxburg. Finally, the Grumpus have decided that you don’t have to live without a basic shelter and have built you a place to live in town that you can decorate as you see fit with decor earned throughout the game. that it’s not the most involved house builder in the world – you just place objects in designated areas when you enter ‘build mode’ – just give players their own little slice of house among the rest Grumpus by Snaktooth.
In order to earn decorations for your new home, you must commit to Bugsnax’s third major new element: a mail system. A mailbox has appeared in front of your hut and other campers will add letters with missions to review. Some of the tasks are simple – feed X Bugsnak to Y Grumpus – but others range from menial to downright diabolical. There’s a letter from Snorpy asking you to catch five Snakpods in 30 seconds, a task that took some real planning (here’s a hint: do it in Scorched Gorge). Going for items can also be a chore, especially the one Triffany left on top of the mountain at Frosted Peak. I’ll never know how she got up there with barbecued ribs, but that’s the beauty of Bugsnax.
These new tasks do a fantastic job of not only extending the length of the adventure, but also giving us more of the vibrant personalities of the other Grumpus that made them so endearing in the base game. Gramble sends letters with greetings from his pets, Cromdo gives you decorations and then tries to charge you for them, and the list goes on. Each author’s personality shines through in every letter, even the ones you might not expect to hear. My favorite part of the original game was hanging out with each Grumpus, and this new messaging system offers that opportunity in a smart and above all fun way.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that some wild Bugsnax can be found wearing hats, 10 of which can be collected and worn by any Bugsnak given to Gramble’s Barn in Snaxburg. Other than giving you something else to find on your travels around Snaktooth, they don’t add much to the overall adventure. The snax looks cute wearing them, though.
My favorite part of Bugsnax Island, however, is a new piece of lore that’s hidden amongst the great Bugsnax. There will be some detective work involved, as finding it will have you searching Broken Tooth, Snaktooth itself, and even the messaging system for clues. Getting there was tough, but once I put the pieces together they delivered a “ha ha!” moment that was extremely satisfying and led to a fascinating discovery. If you’re one of those players who get sucked into a world through its lore, that’s an incredible reward…but that’s all I’ll say about it.
On the surface, Bigsnax Island looks like another Bugsnax biome. Arrive, catch new snaxes, complete missions and watch the story unfold, then return to Snaxburg. That’s not bad, per se – it’s more Bugsnax after all – but it’s not a reinvention either. However, the quality of life improvements – like fast travel and the messaging system – make this update a fantastic addition to the base game. Now that the game is coming to all consoles, I expect a lot more Bugsnax talk as new players and old players alike head to Broken Tooth and uncover all of its secrets… including those hidden within the Snaktooth than ever before. they already know.