Title: Bee Simulator
Developer: Varsav Game Studios
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Genre: Simulator, Arcade, Adventure, Family
Platform: Playstation 4
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 14/11/19
Price: £34.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
See the world through the eyes of a Bee! With Bee Simulator you have the opportunity to simulate the life of a typical honey bee, ‘Beescuit’ who is doing her duty for the hive, pollinating the hell out of the local plant life and staving off some pesky wasps along the way. Is it fun? Well no. And yes. Let me explain.
Bee Simulator is the brainchild of Varsav Game Studios, a Polish studio that historically has dabbled in mobile gaming, and began developing Bee Simulator back in 2017. The game on paper is a great idea. Live the life of a bee, through the trials and tribulations of survival in the modern world. There is potential for it to serve as an educational journey highlighting the importance and impact Bee’s have on the planet and preservation of our entire existence. With this in mind, I decided to play with my eight-year-old son, who was super excited at the prospect of this game. I also personally hoped he would have some educational fun! Rarely do those two words sit together well, but the opening monologue and orchestral score tell the story of our titular hero surprisingly well. It explores her plight of importance as well as the threat to her existence by bears, wasps and man. It was a useful cue to pause for thought.
You immediately awaken in the hive, and a tutorial helps you to navigate the controls for your little bee. The controls are unnecessarily awkward, using shoulder buttons to ascend and descend, and joysticks to move forward and backwards. Instead of feeling like a nimble and agile little bee, it feels like you’re trying to navigate an oil tanker through treacle.
Not To Bee…
Controls aside the game settles you into understanding the functions of your new home, and each bee’s role in the sustainability of the hive. Once you have conquered these early steps and learnt how to collect pollen for the hive the game begins to open up. The concept of the game is to explore the environment of Honey Park (loosely based on Central Park). The park itself is large and vibrantly detailed, with hot dog stands, cafes, a petting zoo and awkward families dancing in public. Despite the detail, it all feels a little empty, lacking in personality and very sparsely populated. It feels like someone googled Central Park and recreated the idea from photos alone, the charm, unfortunately, is entirely absent.
In total, there are five different modes of play, collect stuff, race friends and foes, dance, fight and sting. Each of these varied styles, unfortunately, feel very simplistic and monotonous.
A real frustration I have for a game named Bee Simulator is it’s not a simulator at all. To collect pollen, you have to fly through glowing rings next to flowers, to fight enemy wasps you have to complete a Quick Time Event button-mashing sequence and to sting humans….yes that’s right. You can sting humans, multiple times and they go about their day as if nothing happened. You’re fine to carry on your bee-like ways, even though in real life honey bees, rarely sting and if they do, their stingers are barbed, so cannot be withdrawn. As a result, if this were a simulator you’d be leaving your stinger, parts of your abdomen and digestive tract behind and dying an agonising death shortly after. I guess the Developer wanted to maintain that PEGI 3 rating.
A Hive of Activity
I would instead describe this game as a simple arcade-like experience, with the illusion of free-roaming (there are some strange ceilings and boundaries throughout the landscape). The main objectives to be found throughout this extremely short 2-3 hour story experience have already been mentioned above, collect pollen, chase friends and fellow bees through glowing circles and wonder why literally none of the humans or animals reacts to a bee buzzing in their face. In fact, there is barely a buzz to be heard throughout.
In light of these shortcomings, my son (and I) did enjoy the concept of this game and the Bee facts that guide the storyline and are shown on each loading screen (did you know there are over 20,000 species of Bee around the world, most of which are still undiscovered? Me neither). It was an enjoyable way to spend a little time together and pass the controller back and forth. Yet, for £34.99, I feel the price is very high for a relatively short experience, that does not entirely deliver on the brief of the game description.