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When I first crash into Snacktooth Island in Young Horses, Inc.’s open-world hunting adventure Bugsnax, I am immediately accosted by a number of signs that point toward an extraordinary experience. Maybe it’s the skittering, anthropomorphic french fry-like spiders that occupy a nearby cave or the gigantic flying pizza, à la Mothra, that attempts to murder me upon arrival, but the feeling that more than a few intriguing creatures and unfettered whimsy will underscore my journey—or what is supposed to be an on-location news assignment, as my in-game character is a journalist—grows with every step. Before long, a run-in with a Grumpus (a fairly harmless monster-person) named Filbo, the interim mayor of a recently abandoned community called Snaxburg, confirms as much. Affable and largely helpless, the friendly Grumpus asks me to not only find his missing leader and friend, Lizbert Megafig, but to also rehabilitate his beloved town by bringing all of the departed Grumpuses back to Snaxburg—an ostensibly easy task if all Grumpuses are as kind and amenable as the doe-eyed Filbo.
But the arrival of Beffica Winklesnoot, a violently purple, brusque chatterbox with a penchant for gossip, quickly nullifies any such assumption. “Like, oh my gawd, is this squeeb really talking to me right now,” Beffica immediately sasses in Filbo’s general direction, flippant and merciless as they dive into a quick exchange that ends with her accusing my cerulean tour guide of being a bad leader. There’s really no two ways about it: Beffica is rude and, toward Filbo, a touch mean-spirited. Her delivery is abrasive—enough to make me sincerely hope that my final mission somehow involves me launching the haughty fluff nugget into Frosted Peak.
For a second, I’m quick to cosign Filbo’s various moments of shit-talking that positions Beffica as the clear villain. But as time marches on and more of Snaxburg’s vibrant community returns to the fray, it becomes clear that while far from being the best of the island’s residents, Beffica is hardly the worst. In fact, she’s one of the most self-assured, forthright characters of the game whose biggest crime is being nosey for the greater good. And as a person who is tasked with rebuilding this small society with minimal help from the supposed mayor, she’s not totally wrong about Filbo’s lackluster leadership.
For each Grumpus, a significant factor in proving one’s worth and ultimately convincing the population to return to Snaxburg lies in their ability to catch (or in some harrowing cases, defeat) bugsnax. Catching these elusive food-animal hybrids are a true test of wit and stamina, but often come at the expense of the hunter’s safety. That’s not a complaint. Technically, I signed up for all of this (even if a truly decent leader would get in the trenches with me and at least pretend to be somewhat helpful, Filbo). Besides, without some element of danger or conflict, there wouldn’t be much of a game to enjoy and, in my case, ceaselessly ponder.
However, out of all of Snaxburg’s inhabitants, Beffica is the least likely to send me off on a life-or-death mission for her own personal gain. The majority of her tasks involve little more than spying on the other residents and exchanging gossip-adjacent information that may be helpful to me in the long run. (Some journalists would call that a “scoop.”) She’s one of the few whose focus remains finding Lizbert and her missing partner, Eggabell, and she’s the most helpful when it comes to providing resources, like my handy and necessary fact-tracking journal, and information that is actually pertinent to the looming recovery mission. If her greatest flaw is that she’s a little too honest at times and calls me “bestie” too liberally, then that’s more than manageable.
Some examples of personalities that aren’t as sustainable within an intimate community setting can be found in fellow Grumpuses Cromdo, a swindling, Danny DeVito-inspired salesman who is willing to lie, cheat, and steal from his neighbors for a prayer’s chance at a decent payout; or Wambus, an adorably folksy but selfish farmer who shamelessly kidnapped and ate another Grumpus’ domesticated bugsnax in cold blood. In comparison, Beffica is harmless and maintains no airs about who she is: a neighborhood drama queen who just wants to hold her own against Snaxburg’s more pitiless occupants. Before falling into the easily-laid trap of hating her, keep in mind that she is surrounded by far worse monsters. (And to her credit, she does realize how ridiculous the whole bestie assertion is.)