Originally reviewed November 15, 2019
The last game I played with a bee in it was Bee Movie Game back in 2007; the one based on the movie with Jerry Seinfeld. I had fond memories of that fun little game so I decided to take a chance on the new Bee Simulator releasing today for PC on the Epic Game Store. I had no idea what to expect really, but with the word “simulator” in the title I was thinking it was going to be some sort of strategy or hive-building simulation…something serious. Instead, I was treated to one of the most delightful, fun, charming, and even educational action-adventure games.
After a brief opening that discusses the history and plight of the bee we travel inside the hive to the nursery where we have just hatched. First thing is to name your bee (I chose Stinger), and while your name is never spoken it frequently appears in the subtitles. You’ll need to complete a brief tutorial that takes you outside the hive to this gorgeous meadow where you learn how to fly, collect pollen, and use your bee vision to analyze the various types of plants and the rarity of their pollen. Eventually you’ll get to meet the queen before heading out into the nearby park to experience some more advanced lessons like landing on sugary foods to build up your boost ability and racing through rings while avoiding obstacles and collecting power-ups.
While your bee seems to get along with nature, animals, and even humans, there are some workmen who have targeted the tree with your hive inside for demolition. The queen sends out scouts to find a new home while you are tasked with your normal honey production and pollen collection at the local zoo. This plays out in a huge open-world environment full of all sorts of mini-games, challenges, fetch quests, and endless collectibles. You’ll constantly being collecting pollen and returning that pollen to the hive to make honey. This, along with everything else you do adds to your knowledge points that all tie into the library and list of feats to expand the game’s wiki-like knowledge base. You can even customize your bee with some wardrobe updates. Most of the activities are delightful like the Simon-Says dancing game where you match a growing sequence of directional moves or the race to collect a certain amount of a certain plant before time runs out. There is a fighting challenge that is a bit unintuitive and the classic race-through-the-rings flying challenge that starts off fun enough but sadly breaks the game less than two hours in.
Now is where I will tell you just how much I loved this game, to the point where it was probably going to get at least a 4 if not a 4.5, but early on there is a critical path mission where you must catch another bee to get info. This mission occurred about an hour in for me – could be more or less depending on how much side stuff you do before that – but this mission is absolutely impossible to complete. I spent over 90 minutes on this single mission, initially on the Hard skill level before going into options and changing it to Easy (there is no Normal). On Hard I was able to do a single lap of the ring course but never came close to catching the bee. He’d eventually get too far away or I would miss too many rings. On Easy I was able to complete several laps, but again, never coming close to catching the bee so I could continue the story. I don’t know if the mission is broke or there is some nuance to this racing that I’m not getting. I typically crush ring racing games like this, so if there is some trick it’s cleverly hidden. I even had my husband try – he’s better than me – and he couldn’t come close to catching the bee either. Sadly, with this being a story mission Bee Simulator ended here. Aside from the various challenges and mini-games there was nothing left for me to do. After a combined two hours of chasing that bee it was clear it was never going to happen. I mean, seriously, this game seems to be targeting kids and I was playing on Easy – it shouldn’t be this hard. If the game gets some sort of patch to fix this mission I’ll certainly considering revisiting my review…I’d welcome the opportunity.
Bee Simulator is stunningly beautiful with gorgeous lighting and detailed environments for landscape and all sorts of animals, some of which come close to being photorealistic. The zoo is populated with all the animals you’d expect and flying near them will log them into your database for future reference. The sounds of nature are perfect and there is some good background music that starts off way too loud – you’ll need to turn it down to 50% so you can hear the dialogue. The voice acting is average at best with people making all sorts of goofy voices like you would when reading a children’s bedtime story.
There is also a fun little split-screen co-op mode that lets you fly around in a few smaller areas exploring, collecting pollen, and challenging each other to the same mini-games from the single-player game. It’s a fun diversion that might add a few hours to the main game if you have someone to play with.
I had a ton of fun during the first hour of this game, collecting all sorts of stuff, helping a squirrel find his mom, helping that mom find enough nuts to feed all her kids, helping a sick bee back to the hive, and doing a half-dozen dance-offs to get directions to rare flowers. I even got into a fight with a wasp. I’m not sure how much more varied content the game offers or what kind of new locations you might get to explore since I can’t continue the game, which makes it nearly impossible for me to recommend at this time. I really loved the first hour or so, and hope I can finish Bee Simulator some day soon.
Post Patch Review Update – December 19, 2019 by Mark Smith
Keri is on break until 2020, but I didn’t want to wait that long to update our review for Bee Simulator. The game received a fairly major patch a couple of weeks ago that fixed several issues along with the mission race challenge that was prohibiting us from finishing the game. Sadly, the patch didn’t really “fix” the issue, as three of our original four editors still couldn’t win this race, but at least now the game gives you the option to skip the race, which did allow us to complete the game.
Admittedly, what comes after this race was pretty much more of the same with slight variations to the mission themes. There was a lot of pollen collection and then there was an adventure at a nearby amusement park and finally an epic quest to find a new hive clear on the other side of the park. There were fun new characters to meet, and the introduction of the enemy wasps; the bullies of the park. Bee Simulator managed to keep everything very pro-bee even to the point where you were allowed to sting only one (bad) human in the entire game. All of the trivia and info on the load screens really make you appreciate these insects. There is even a touching scene late in the game where a human actually helps a bee.
Once the story is complete the game opens up to a Free Flight mode where you can venture back out into the park and do all the various challenges and activities and find all the discovery critters for the Knowledge Museum. I only unlocked a fraction while playing the story mode. The various mini-games are a delight from the dance off to the combat to the various flight challenges and pollen collections. Watch out for spiderwebs as the mini-game to escape those is especially tricky.
Bee Simulator is a delightful game offering a core storyline that will entertain as well as educate us on the importance of bees in our ecosystem. I would have liked some more trivia panels as the ones we had seemed to repeat quite often. Ask me how fast a bee flies or how many eggs a queen lays in a day. I’ll never forget. Seriously, kids and adults will find a lot to enjoy here, alone or as a family, or perhaps even in a classroom environment. And even when the story is finished there are dozens of hours of content that will keep you busy as a bee.