The simulator genre is nothing new in 2019. If it exists in the world, there is a game about it. Some simulator games are really out there like Goat Simulator while others are hardcore experiences meant to deliver a “chore-like” approach like Farming Simulator. Bee Simulator, on the other hand, is quite different and if anything, it is quite far from being a simulator game.
If anything, it is more of an adventure game that follows a beehive through the trials and tribulations of the modern world. It is aimed at kids and that is clear from the moment the game starts. It is also meant to be educational to a certain extent as you learn about all sorts of not only bee-related facts, but nature in general. Does it accomplish that? Well, yes as the various loading screens threw facts about bees at me that I had no idea about but the overall gameplay does a bad job creating an educational experience.
Take a look at the launch trailer
Unfortunately, the tedious life of a bee would have been a nightmare to play through if one had to be subjected to a full-on educational session. Instead, the developers at Varsav Game Studios fluffed the game up with mini-objectives, easy-to-master flight mechanics and a light-hearted adventure approach. This, taking away the “simulator” experience in my opinion.
You play the game as a honey bee as you learn the ropes of being a bee and help your hive grow and survive harsh winters, human threats and other crazy insects just being terrible towards these cute and fluffy buzzing creatures. After a quick tutorial, the gameplay hits a rinse and repeat objective-based cycle. You collect pollen from flowers around your hive which is located in a Central Park-like environment and return to drop it off.
Along the way, you will encounter some side objectives such as flying through rings to catch a bee before it will share the location of a rare flower with you or fighting a wasp in a timed button masher combat sequence. The story takes a couple of hours to go through which tasks you in completing a handful of each side objectives, and a couple of runs of pollen-collecting before unlocking a free-roam and having the ability to explore the open world to your heart’s content.
After which, there’s nothing really keeping you from coming back. The world is filled with these combat encounters, races, an infinite supply of pollen and dancing mini-games. Of which, you are rewarded with Knowledge Points which can be used to unlock 3D models back in your hive after you complete them. There are also skins you can unlock by doing specific challenges but it all feels like a chore. The issue here is the repetitive nature of the game shows its rough edges after doing the same thing for the tenth time.
In terms of the gameplay, flying around the world is fun. You can hover around, speed up using a boost and soar through the air with ease. Flying never felt challenging at all to me and once you have played it for an hour, it all comes naturally. The mini-games are also super simple and rely on button mashing, flicking your analogue stick in a certain direction to dance like your fellow bee, or timing a button press in order to charge an attack. These are also extremely easy requiring no effort at all. No doubt catering for a younger gaming audience here.
As for presentation, the game has some rough visuals. The draw distance is poor, 3D models are dated, animations are probably the worst I have ever seen in a video game, and the voice acting sounds like it was done by the same person in different pitches for different insects. It is hard to not notice the poor presentation in Bee Simulator as every location looked just bad.
There are some creative moments I could not help but chuckle at like the billboards in the Time Square-like area that represented bee versions of Lara Croft and Spider-Man. Other than that, there is nothing else going on here that makes the game visually outstanding. I could not help but feel if the game had a coat of cel-shaded paint, it would have created a stunning water paint-like presentation similar to a storybook. All the cinematics are designed this way and they look fantastic.
Bee Simulator is not a bad game by any means. My niece loves it and has spent more hours playing it than I have. That is a job well done from the developer’s point of view. However, she is not paying for it which is the biggest issue here. It is an overpriced experience at R629. This game is worth perhaps half of that cost. I could then overlook the bad visuals and shoddy gameplay loop and it could be money well-spent.
This Bee Simulator review was based on a code sent to us by BigBen Entertainment
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 14 November 2019 | Price: R629