November 23, 2020

Find Out What All the Buzz is About - Bee Simulator (STEAM) Review

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TL;DR: Bee Simulator is a fun and educational game about, well, bees. However, the kiddie-like gameplay may turn off serious gamers. 

float like a butterfly sting like a bee

Since it's nearly impossible to talk about Bee Simulator without making the comparisons of other simulator games out there (Goat, Farming, Fishing, etc), I'll get that over with upfront. Bee simulator is very similar to those other simulator games. In fact, it does a fine job of educating the player on the plight of the honey bee and the important role it plays in the world's delicate ecosystem that you'd think you tuned in to the National Geographic Channel. As the adorable headliner in this third-person game, you'll fly around pollinating flowers, helping other bees in distress, and stinging baddies upside their heads, all the while producing precious honey for the hive.

The 3D world is composed of colorful graphics, lush green fields, blooming flowers, and familiar landmarks taken directly from famed Central Park. But don't be fooled by the tranquil and peaceful landscape as there are dangers lurking around every corner. For one, ill-mannered humans will try to swat you away whenever you come too close. You'll also have to contend with other critters such as wasps and spiders who don't take too kindly to your bee presence. Despite those challenges, Bee Simulator offers a slew of good clean violence. First, there's no blood or gore here which will make any mom or Senator happy. When you pounce and sting an enemy, they simply disappear in a shower of sparks. The only downside to the graphics is the occasional pop-up of the distant scenery as your little honey bee flies by.

The bigger they are, the harder the bite. Watch out!

Taking flight, while the high point of the game, isn't as precise nor as intuitive as one would hope for which is a real shame since flying makes up the majority of the gameplay. Personally, I was hoping that the flight mechanics would be similar to that of Nights for the Sega Saturn which I found to be quite exhilarating.

B is for beautiful

From a gameplay standpoint, every other level is littered with the obligatory side quests and missions which helps break up the monotony. By completing these challenges it allows you to unlock additional 'bee' knowledge which in turn earns you points to spend on accessories such as different colored skins, masks, and uh, hats. That's right folks, hats. The game is also available on the home systems and in true console fashion, a controller is highly recommended. Taking flight, while the high point of the game, isn't as precise nor as intuitive as one would hope for which is a real shame since flying makes up the majority of the gameplay. Personally, I was hoping that the flight mechanics would be similar to that of Nights for the Sega Saturn which I found to be quite exhilarating. Thankfully, you can make the necessary adjustments in the options menu to make flying feel more natural and free-flowing.

Despite the positive vibe, the bees give off, all is not so sweet in the land of nectar. The biggest letdown from a game like this is that it tries too hard to be both educational and entertaining at the same time; which succeeds on one front but falters slightly on the other. On top of that, some of the levels become tedious as you are often required to repeat them over and over again. To make matters worse, the camera position is awkwardly placed as it tries to re-center itself behind your bee and can put you at a disadvantage especially on timed missions where you have to fly through rings throughout the park.

Don't let the pretty landscape fool you. Enemies are every where.

mind your beesiness

All in all, Varsav Game Studios has crafted a unique and charming little title. It sounds good, it looks good, and it offers tons of educational information (did you know honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to produce one pound of honey? I didn't). Be forewarned, however, this game isn't for everyone. The action is very light, the tactics used to fend off the foes borders on minimal, and the flying sequences can get repetitive. Another caveat to consider is that the game is on the short end and can be completed by savvy gamers within three to four hours.

Still, Bee Simulator is a great example of an emerging genre that combines the best of education and information carefully wrapped in a video game package. If you're the type that enjoys casual games without the nuances of complex gameplay, then this game might just 'bee' what you're looking for.

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