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Game Info:

Bee Simulator
Developed By: VARSAV Game Studios S.A
Published By: Bigben Interactive; Nacon (Steam)
Released: Nov 14, 2019; Nov 17, 2020 (Steam)
Available On: PlayStation 4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
Genre: Action-Adventure; Edutainment
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone: Mild Fantasy Violence
Number of Players: Up to four players, split-screen
Price: $29.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Nacon (formerly known as Bigben Interactive) for providing us with a review code!

To bee or not to bee. That is the question for today. Bee Simulator, created by VARSAV Game Studios S.A. is a game where you play as Bee Hero and do bee things. Bees have many roles in the hierarch-“bee”, but Bee Hero’s specialty is the worker bee. Her sweet-gig is to collect pollen so that the bees can produce honey. She is a forager and is around the mid-stage of her life cycle—about fourteen days old. Most bees only live to about 45-60 days, which is not a long time at all.

As Hero Bee explores the 3D world around her, which takes place inside a park within a city, she’ll come across the many spectacles of life. Flying around the park, she sees many different types of flowers and comes across different insects and animals. Within this open world, bee dancing to find special flowers, pollen collection, racing, bugging the humans, and fighting other insects are the many tasks that need to bee done.

Each of these tasks is color-coded as well as marked on your bee compass (which resembles a pair of wings). Bee dancing, based on the actual method on how bees communicate, is a Simon Says-type game. Completing this game requires you to copy the other bee’s movements to locate unique flowers. Pollen collection is the simplest of the bunch, where Bee Hero must collect pollen from a specific rarity of flowers (ranging from uncommon to legendary) in the allotted time given. With bee vision, toggled by the press of the 1 key or click of the right thumbstick, the rarity of each flower is highlighted with a color. Uncommon flowers are white and epic ones are red.

Bee Simulator
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun bee-based facts; nice soundtrack; captures the spirit of a bee
Weak Points: Does suffer from repetitive objectives; not the best controls; short campaign
Moral Warnings: Some cartoonish violence

A trigger warning for survivors of Superman 64, racing is where you fly through rings. Sometimes it's just to get to the goal. Other times, it’s to catch up to the other bee or flying insect. Messing with humans is probably the rarest kind of task as I’ve encountered them way less than any other. In most cases, the humans are doing something that they shouldn’t and you simply have to tell them to buzz off with headbutts and stings. The last variant is combat. Facing off against territorial bees, wasps, and even hornets, it is a 1-on-1 battle where you'll give them a good sting to teach them how to bee-have. Completing missions, side quests, and depositing pollen into the hive earns knowledge points, which can unlock skins and 3D models to view.

What Bee Simulator doesn’t tell you is that the difficulty settings significantly change how each of these modes is tackled. The game type that changes the most is the combat. On easy, it Is simply a bunch of QTEs (quick-time events), but on hard, it changes to an active real-time system very similar to a fighting game. There’s a stamina meter, energy meter to execute special moves, directional movement and attacks, and potential to enter a stunned state. Hard can present an interesting challenge to more experienced players and I even found myself bumbling around stuck on some missions for a decent amount of time. The variations of these side quests are cool, but the things that you’re doing from the beginning of the game—you’ll be doing them until the end. Little changes in these quests happen during your adventure so it can start to drone on and on, especially if going for 100% is the end goal.

Bee Hero controls as one would expect of a bee. Both keyboard and mouse are supported and both options work well. Movement can take some time to get used to because even though Bee Hero does have freedom of movement in a 3D space, it always feels like she’s on this predetermined path and you have to break off from it. Hmm, maybe that is why they call it a beeline. Anyway, it’s best to go into the options menu and adjust the sensitivity settings as the default sensitivity is low.

There are two different types of graphics contained in Bee Simulator. The 3D world where most of the game takes place is not the best in graphical fidelity but does the job. The arrangement of colors is nicely done. The sense of scale is also well-executed. From squirrels to crocodiles, they all look massive in the eye of the beeholder. Even though the entire game takes place inside of a park, the open-world does seem as big as other open-world games at first. Bee-ing able to see the city buildings in the background just makes you realize that you are a little insect in a huge world. The other type of graphics is the 2D cutscenes. Corners are cut when it comes to the animation of the scenes but are more than made up for in the art style. I found the art style to be wonderful and very appealing.

Bee Simulator
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 75%
Gameplay 13/20
Graphics 7.5/10
Sound 8/10
Stability 5/5
Controls 4/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence 8/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

When it comes to music, there is a great sense of playfulness in the score. The music succeeds in capturing the sense of freedom that a bee has. Able to fly wherever they please. The potential of flight is something that swarms of people have longed for. Even I would love the opportunity to take off and fly. I enjoy the music very much and even though there are only around a dozen or so tracks in total, I never found it to become repetitive. Voice acting is a feature that’s actually in Bee Simulator. Instead of a narrator that talks over most of the game, the vast majority of insect and animal characters are all voiced. Since VARSAV is a Polish developer, almost all the voices have a Slavic accent to them. The flies you’ll encounter have a “surfer dude” accent. I got a buzz out of that since everyone else has a distinct Eastern European articulation. I found the voice acting to be well done, especially for a group whose native language is not English.

Your adventure with Bee Simulator is not a very long one—bees have short lives after all! It will take the average person less than three hours to complete the story, and maybe a few hours more to accomplish every task. The split-screen multiplayer can be worth checking out if your home has a hive of visitors. However, I dislike how some unlockable cosmetics are tied to the multiplayer which can feel even more repetitive than the single-player in some aspects. Quests and events take mere minutes at a time, sometimes even seconds, so you’ll fly right through them (almost like you’re a bee or something). Bee Simulator's depth may leave many adults disappointed with it due to its shallowness and snob-bee price-to-performance ratio. However, one audience I can see enjoying a game such as this are children. Bee Simulator is very educational with many aspects based on real-life bee facts. There is a whole glossary that entails facts and information on bees, flowers, and various other animals. The way bees move, work, and even attack is truthful (for the most part). Kids who enjoy nature and people who can reach inside and pull out that inner kid for just a short time can experience a good time.

I believe VARSAV’s target audience was children due to the educational aspect, and the very few moral concerns with it (Not like there would be many in the first place since animals and insects run on instinct.) The violent interactions are portrayed in a cartoon-like manner with “pow!” effects and the classic fight clouds seen in many cartoons. Buying this for a kid is plenty appropriate or for people who never lost that child-like wonder. Personally, it had me grinning from beginning to end. Why not go out there, and bee-come one with nature?

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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