Bugsnax’s Ending Was Originally Even Darker, Here’s Why It Changed

Even from its initial reveal trailer, Young Horses’ charming first-person adventure Bugsnax clearly had something darker looming in the shadows of Snaktooth Island, literally and metaphorically. And fans with a sneaking suspicion were correct, as Bugsnax revealed a more layered world, not just in some of its darker twists but also in its nuanced approach to the ensemble cast and their respective lives.In the earliest draft of Bugsnax’s script though, that revelatory ending was very different, both on narrative and mechanical levels. Trust us – we’ve read the script.In speaking with Bugsnax Creative Director Kevin Zuhn, who shared the original script with IGN, it’s clear that the changes to Bugsnax’s ending not only allowed for a more emotionally resonant conclusion but also one that helped solve for gameplay, lore, and resolution issues from earlier versions. And one of the biggest changes from which many of the other alterations stem is a drastic change of fate for one character.Spoilers for Bugsnax’s original and actual endings follow! Do not read on if you intend to play – and to find out why you might want to, be sure to read IGN’s Bugsnax review.You can check out the full run-down of the ending in our Bugsnax wiki guide, but in short, here’s how the adventure actually wraps up: Players discover Lizbert Megafig (who invited the main character to Snaktooth Island in the first place) has now assumed a controlling role over the Bugsnax, but that hold is waning as the body-consuming parasites grow in power. Lizbert and her love Eggabell remain in the UnderSnax to keep the parasites at bay while the player, along with Filbo, head back to the surface to save all the other Grumpuses and escape the grasp of the Bugsnax. Players then go through a bit of a gauntlet, fending off the snax while saving the island’s denizens to make a daring escape back to the mainland safely with either some or all of the Grumpuses. Before returning to regular life, the player has a chance to speak with each surviving Grumpus about what’s happened, and what they hope to do now. There’s also a post-credits sequence, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The bones of this ending are in the original draft, unlike the bones of the boneless Bugsnax, but much of how it plays out is drastically different, simultaneously darker and sillier in many regards. But undoubtedly the biggest change from Bugsnax’s original version to what all of us actually played, occurs before you even get to the UnderSnax (which didn’t even exist in that first draft – it’s just some cave Lizbert is in). And that’s the fact that Eggabell died on her and Lizbert’s adventures up the mountain – and in a gruesome fashion.

Lizbert explains how Eggabell missed a jump as they were scaling the island’s peaks, and when Lizbert managed to pull her up, her Bugsnax-addicted love had become something else, something almost zombie-like in how fully the Bugsnax had taken over. After an altercation, where a clearly not-in-control Eggabell attacked Lizbert, the latter pushes Eggabell off of her, and off of a cliff, to her doom. And rather than even having a body to bury, Eggabell splits apart into a host of other Bugsnax.

Now, obviously, none of that happens in the actual game. Eggabell, in fact, is paramount to the third act. Very much alive, she helps players understand more about what’s happened and, functionally, set players off on a quest to open a mysterious door into the heart of the island.

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Giving the player more reasons to care and learn about the Grumpuses throughout the story, to better understand their personal trials as well as the greater stakes at play, as well as to realize just how much of a threat Bugsnax actually were, Zuhn realized through production how those bad and neutral zombie endings offered little in the way of emotional catharsis, and the good ending flew in the face of what the Grumpuses should have learned by that point.

“At the time [of the original draft], a big calamity is going to happen but nobody has eaten enough to transform into a zombie and they’re like, ‘Well, nothing bad actually happened to us, so I guess it’s fine and we can just stay here and will be careful about those Bugsnax because we know they’re dangerous now.’

“I get why I put that on paper, but as yet another symptom of not having gotten the theme yet that Bugsnax represent your personal demons, you can’t just sit and eat some of them, some of the time and be fine. No matter what happens in the ending, they have to leave this place.”

That realization, of ensuring that the Grumpuses had to leave the island, led to the creation of Bugsnax’s denouement, where the Grumpuses that did escape, along with the player, ruminate on what’s transpired and look toward what the future might be. This scene largely came together, Zuhn explained, once the final battle in which you hold off Bugsnax attacking the Grumpuses, came together.

“Because that ending final battle thing coalesced, that inspired me to then make what the epilogue is,” they said. “I think that scene is way better than any scene where they stay there. We had finally figured out what shape the gameplay would take, and that gave me the ability to move forward from there, because sometimes it can be very difficult to write a future scene without knowing how the game could impact it. Anytime I did that previously, I would turn out to be wrong, I would be presupposing too much.”

“Every running joke is an opportunity for more storytelling.”

That scene became more than that, because for players who manage to save every Grumpus, a post-credits scene teases that, perhaps, there are more in the world who know of Bugsnax and what they’re capable of. The entire game, Snorpy speaks of the Grumpinati as some shadow organization, but it could be viewed as just a silly conspiracy theory. Until that scene, of course.

But Zuhn cautions that you shouldn’t believe everything every character says, while also noting they were very intentional about what clues and teases ended up in the story.

“Every running joke is an opportunity for more storytelling,” Zuhn said. “I don’t see any reason not to explore the idea. At the same time, everybody should really take what Snorpy says with a big grain of salt. Just because a character in the story thinks something is true doesn’t mean that their opinion is good. But at the same time, clearly there is something going on that Clumpy knows more than she was letting on at the start of the game. And I wanted to do that at the very end of the story to give you something to wonder about, to re-contextualize some things you might have been thinking.”

And it’s clear that Zuhn was able to re-contextualize much of the work in his original draft into something more emotionally resonant to the themes at work and considerate of its characters to craft the stirring ending present in the final release. Were it not for the addition of Eggabell into the present story and the move away from the zombified endings, it’s impossible to say how players would have received the ending. But as it stands now, Bugsnax offers a more well-rounded conclusion, and just enough dangling questions to leave players, this writer included, hungry for more.

Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, host of Podcast Beyond!, and PlayStation lead. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.

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