So when I found out the list of games for me to check out at the recent Bigben week even in Paris, I knew already a few of the games I had to check out. Sinking City, WRC8, Overpass and Paranoia Happiness is Lost were certainties. Then I saw something curious on the list. I saw Bee Simulator. Naturally, being a game about bees, I was expecting a sort of survival horror game, one where the terrors of Lovecraftian horror hold nothing to the flying creatures of death that are bees, wasps and hornets. I wasn't too far off.
Did I ever mention that bees, wasps and such are quite literally my only fear? I've slightly overcome the Apiphobia that began in childhood. Strangely, it was being stung by a wasp - for no reason at all I may add - that helped with this. Still, the creatures are creepy, wrong and violent, something Bee Simulator is keen to both prove me wrong and right at the same time.
To tell the truth, it's got nothing but good things to say about bees. At the very start of me playing and talking to a member of Varsav Game Studios, the developers, it was made clear that this wants to bring attention to bees, the fact that they are essential to our survival and one of the most key animals on this planet. Hell, the developers even have a few beekeepers on the team. They love the bees.
You know, were the bees I interacted with as a child like those found in Bee Simulator, I'd probably love them too. You've got happy ones, lazy ones, silly ones, even drunk ones. The latter seems perfect to me, best pals. They're all having a buzzing good time, going around collecting pollen from both common and rare plants alike, living in a thriving community (family? Are all bees related?), helping to look after their hive. A hive that just so happens to be in the middle of a fairly large park. A park that you will get free roam of, should you like to.
That's at least one of the modes I was told about, with there also being a story mode. It's the story I got a taste of while at the event, getting to see the cute, charming dialogue. As you can expect, the game is full of bee-related puns as well. Ones that, even though you expect them, will still have you giggling. This is, after all, a game that is designed to be fun and accessible for the whole family. Of course, there has to be some challenge to overcome on the way, this is where those dastardly wasps come in.
While this is called Bee Simulator, it isn't exactly dry in the sort of way you would expect a simulation game to be. Also, being a bee you'd find the game to be a little short and oppressive really, they don't exactly live a long time. In keeping with this is your conflict with the wasps, often starting with a conversation that shows how much of an angry arsehole the wasp is before you start to fight. Naturally, you can't sting the wasp. You're at a disadvantage since Wasps survive after they sting. You battle by choosing the direction of your attack, or if you'll block, and whittle the enemy down while managing your stamina. Simple and looks great.
The best part about it not being dry and over the top in the simulation is how much you'll actually learn without realising it. Did you know that bees can see things on the ultraviolet spectrum? You did? Okay. Well, I didn't and the game taught me that. It was interesting to see 'Bee Vision' turned on, you pop into a first-person flying view and everything take on that vivid purple-blue-pink palette.
The fact that stinging kills you doesn't mean you don't get to use your stinger at all though. Now, you don't get to go around stinging the chickens, humans, cows and other creatures featured in the world of Bee Simulator. Again, you'd die since your stinger would stick in alongside a significant portion of the rest of your body. We're getting gruesome again. Fortunately, the balloons hanging around won't keep a hold of your stinger, so feel free to go around popping some balloons, ruining some birthday parties and hopefully making everybody think the park is haunted.
There are other hazards than wasps of course. You'll see quite a few as you're entering a few races, where you'll be avoiding gusts of winds, swarms of flies or the dreaded spider webs. Since they weren't actively implemented in the game at this point, I had to ask if the spiders were a hazard and that's a definite yes. If you run into a spider's web, you're going to have to free yourself. Spiders do like inviting flying insects to lunch.
Honestly, I just enjoyed flying around the park most of all, ignoring most of the story elements during my hands-on time with the game. What things I did see were, as I said, charming. This is a game I imagine will be very enjoyable to sit down and relax with, either following the cheery dialogue and meeting a variety of bees with different, buzzing, personalities. That or just flying around, landing on a cake, popping balloons or hovering around the beak of a chicken.
Whatever you do, you'll love the bright vivid colours and surprisingly great detail. Playing it on the PC at the event (no idea on specs), it was great to look at with no issues at all. Most of all, it was actually excellent to listen to, with a soundtrack composed by Mikolai Stroinski who has worked on titles like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the upcoming Age of Empires 4. I could certainly believe it when I was told because the music and audio, in general, is great.
Will Bee Simulator bee good? Well, I can honestly imagine it will be. It's certainly charming and funny in a cheesy way, perfect for anybody of any age. It also looks great and was pretty fun to fly around and explore the park.