The gaming world is a strange one. Despite having endless first-person shooters, racers, fighters and platformers to go around, there’s also a growing interest in games about simulating animals. Like goats? You’ve got Goat Simulator? How about ants? Empires of the Undergrowth can do the trick! But what about bees, one of our planet’s most precious and important creatures? Bee Simulator has a lot more to offer than most “Take A Break From Being Human” simulators. It has fun mechanics, what looks like an actual budget, a real sense of humor and a massively important message that everyone needs to hear: bees need saving.
Bees need saving now! Bees need saving yesterday! But while we throw our money at the scientists and let them get their lab coats on, we can play Bee Simulator to pass the time and learn a few things about our winged insect friends in the process. It’s a win-win for everyone – especially the bees!
You begin the game as a larval bee enjoying a peaceful few seconds of being back in the womb before your body completes its metamorphosis and you enter out into the world – as a freshly minted honeybee! Your tutorial now awaits. The controls are easy to learn, especially if you’re playing on PC and prefer keyboard and mouse controls. Simply point where you want to go and it’s just a short flight to your destination. Be warned, though, as the mouse can feel horribly insensitive. I want a mouse that listens to me. Like Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee-sona listens to his human love interest in Bee Movie. (Vanessa, her name is Vanessa). Not like how Ken (yes his name is Ken) doesn’t listen to Vanessa.
The plot of the main story is nothing special, but it does the work of moving things forward and managed to suck me through 40+ percent before I even realized how much time had passed. Nothing special, but I wasn’t expecting any narrative in a game primarily about controlling bees and pollinating flowers.
The menus and the UI are excellent and laid out exactly how I’d expect them, even containing the rare “Activate Evelyn’s Excitement Mode” word: wardrobe. You can be different bees (including native bees and other, faker, bees like the Cyberbee skin). And because we live in a post-Mario Odyssey world you can even put hats on your bees. Or traffic cones. You can also add a trail to your bee’s sprint, called “Beetro.” Want to buy any items from the wardrobe? They cost knowledge points, which you can collect by gathering pollen and bringing it back to the hive or completing quests.
How do you collect pollen, you ask? Simply fly your bee (I gave mine the game-offered name “Beescuit” because I thought it was amazing) into the translucent golden orbs around pollen-carrying flowers. Want even better pollen? Turn on “Bee Vision,” which in addition to adding an accurate compound-eyes-filter, turns flowers from their normal colors to white, green, yellow, red, and purple to indicate different levels of rarity. You can probably guess the tiers, but they’re Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. Classic loot premise applied to flowers; I’ll give them points for originality.
Other mechanics included as mini-games are dancing (a Simon-Says game, essentially), fighting (dodge the attack), racing (most of the races take forever, fair warning), gathering pollen challenges and “sting the bully” (which, as bees, is exactly what you think it is). All of which are things that bees do as part of their short lives, though with sting the bully, maybe less so.
There’s some added life to the game that comes from side missions, such as “Find This Squirrel’s Mom” and “Bees Apparently ALSO Think Titan Arum Flowers Are Stinky,” which take very little time to complete but still brought a smile to my face. Not to mention the occasional nod to nerdom throughout the game, including a quote from everyone’s favorite Angry Old Wizard, Gandalf, and, of course, the obligated “Winter is Coming” quest title. Bee Simulator is, by far, the nerdiest game about bees I’ve ever played.
Bee Simulator is a strange, fun time. Hands down, no tricks. It’s simple, sure, but when did simple become a bad thing? It’s also surprisingly educational, especially for kids who might have a natural aversion to insects that can sting. The game is loaded with facts and fascinating tidbits about bees and why they’re so important to maintaining our precious ecosystem, as well as hilarious pop-culture nods to other things they probably love already. In a gaming landscape of sims about the animal kingdom these bees rule the honeycomb and I’m definitely hooked. Buzz on over and try it!