The Bug Butcher review

Version reviewedPC

It’s a fairly simple game, but I found myself enjoying The Bug Butcher much more than I expected.

I’ve written about it a couple of times – the fact that you can only shoot up interested me, and the bugs that you are called upon to butcher looked wonderfully grotesque. Having played the game for 2 hours – and finished the arcade levels in that time – I now understand the reason for the former and am wildly in love with the latter. Let’s talk about the bugs.

They’re wonderfully ugly, really. Without being disgusting, they are somehow utterly hideous in an endearing sort of way. You start by facing these bulbous pink things, which split into smaller, equally ugly versions of themselves when shot sufficiently – which repeats once or twice more until there are none of them left.

Later, you’ll come across what looks like a giant cockroach that shoots lightning from between its orange buttcheeks, a bulbous orange-red thing that glows with orange pustules and launches them at you every now and then – and many, many more. My personal nemesis was a headcrab-type bug that hops around tying to land on your face. If it does, it’s instant death.

BugButcher_Screen (8)

The only enemy type that I found uninspired was these glowing, bouncing balls – which came in red, orange, green, and fiery flavours – because they felt like they were thrown in simply to add a little challenge. While they fit with the game’s art style, they didn’t add to the experience in the way seeing a new bug did.

All of these things, of course, are there to be shot, and The Bug Butcher lets you shoot them with one of four weapons. You start every level with a machine gun and can pick up weapon crates as they spawn to switch weapons. Each special weapon comes with an ammo count that depletes as you fire, switching you back to the machine gun when exhausted.

The special weapons are beam gun, rocket launcher, lightning gun, a gatling gun (if memory serves; I barely remember it because it was the most boring of the lot). The rocket launcher fires homing rockets; the lightning gun zaps clumped up enemies; but the real star is the beam gun. It’s absurd (pictured below). The moment I get my hands on that, I jam the fire button down and run in a straight line, vaporizing everything as I go along. Especially when things are getting out of hand, the beam gun can very, very quickly turn the tide in your favour.

And to make turning the tide easier, there are also powerups that you can activate with a press of a button. Kill enough enemies and the powerup meter charges. Which in turn allows you to either shoot and run faster and turn briefly invulnerable; freeze everything on screen; or launch a bunch of homing rockets at everything in the vicinity.

BugButcher_Screen (2)

The ability to freeze everything, incidentally, is what helped me win the game. I was going up against the last wave of enemies, two enormous, swollen wretches, with less than ten seconds left. I grabbed myself a beam gun, popped the first one and the timer started to tick down from five. Hoping I’d be able to fry the last one in five seconds, I activated the powerup – and realised, with a fit of near-hysterical laughter, that I had frozen the timer too. It was a brilliant moment.

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t complained about much. That’s because there isn’t a whole lot to complain about.

It’s short, certainly. There are 30 levels, which I completed in 2 hours according to Steam. But there are also upgrades for weapons and star ratings for levels, which encourage you to replay completed sections of The Bug Butcher’s arcade mode. There’s also a Panic Mode in which your goal is to survive for as long as possible against waves of enemies until either you run out of time or a headcrab swallows your face. Panic mode comes with its own set of upgrades, that you can unlock on the fly as you collect coins from different waves, which I thought was a nice touch.

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There also isn’t a whole lot of depth to the customization system either – I would’ve liked more options, like more upgrade levels for the weapons, expensive upgrades that guaranteed certain drops so I could play with different loadouts instead of depending on random ones, things like that.

But these are niggles, honestly. For as long as it lasted, I had fun with The Bug Butcher. And if you give it a change, I think you might, too.

This isn’t a game that I can imagine myself sinking hours and hours into, but I don’t think The Bug Butcher is designed to be that sort of game. It’s a fun, frantic, entertaining experience, that packs enough variety and challenge in the gameplay – and pairs that with gorgeous art – to make sure that you enjoy yourself whenever you hop in and out of it. It won’t take you away from, say, the Torment beta or Deserts of Kharak.

But if you’re looking for a quick jolt of adrenaline and a quick and satisfying way to spend a half hour or so, The Bug Butcher is worth investing time in.

So, to sum this up …

I had fun – it’s as simple as that. I love the bugs; I think they’re wonderful. There’s no story to speak of here but I didn’t really need one. And the very first time a spider-bug’s long tongue-proboscis-thing stretched out from the top of its head and yanked my engineer pal off his feet while he shrieked helplessly, I was in love.

The Bug Butcher is a fun, polished, enormously entertaining game. I think that’s worth $7.99. Oh, and it was apparently inspired by something called Super Pang. I hear that’s important to some people.

Trevor Coelho
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Summary

I had fun – it’s as simple as that. I love the bugs; I think they’re wonderful. There’s no story to speak of here but I didn’t really need one. And the very first time a spider-bug’s long tongue-proboscis-thing stretched out from the top of its head and yanked my engineer pal off his feet while he shrieked helplessly, I was in love.

The Bug Butcher is a fun, polished, enormously entertaining game. I think that’s worth $7.99. Oh, and it was apparently inspired by something called Super Pang. I hear that’s important to some people.

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