What an absolutely charming way to spend an afternoon. Sim games are everywhere these days and can range from the taking literal sense of the term (Bus/Farming Simulator) to the extremes, or a more tongue in cheek approach (the original Surgeon Simulator, for example). Bee Simulator sits somewhere in the middle; you’ll follow the daily routine of a bee, but there’s a narrative to follow that aims to raise awareness about the extinction of the species. It’s an utterly charming few hours, and well worth a look.
Across the short campaign, you’ll be tasked with collecting pollen for the hive, rescuing lost bees and even scouting for a new home. While there is a large open world to explore, these missions are more akin to a traditional linear game. Usually a bee at the hive will ask something of you, and it’s a simple case of flying around the world following checkpoints to progress. It keeps things flowing nicely, with a good variety of things to do. Occasionally you’ll have to engage in a fight with the local wasp or hornet population; a simple button sequence needs following in order to attack or defend. Or you’ll need to direct a bee to a location, in this instance using the analogue stick to follow simple dance moves to communicate. There’s nothing here that will challenge older players too much, though – if my daughters are to go by – there’s more than enough engagement in the actions to hold their interest.
Outside of missions there is no danger to you at all. You are free to roam about collecting pollen, discovering animals, points of interest and just enjoying the world. Pollen collected can be deposited at the hive in order to unlock facts about and statues of the various wildlife. There’s a lot of educational information on offer here, and it’d make a great accompaniment to wildlife projects at school. As mentioned, a lot of the narrative attempts to highlight the positive aspects of bees and the good they do to our environment. It never feels pandering though, instead educating through play. There are humans dotted around the park, none of which attempt to bat you away or flail around wildly – helping to get across the positive nature of our little buzzing friends.
The world does feel slightly static, with the majority of animals and people seemingly stuck in place. It doesn’t detract too much during the story as there’s enough other stuff going on that it’s not really noticeable, but once you gain access to the free roam there’s a slight animatronic feel to things. But by the time you get there it will barely matter – if anything the predictability of the world makes pollen gathering more enjoyable.
There’s also a co-op mode for up to 4 players. Here, you play in one of 3 smaller areas and simply fly about exploring together. Pollen can still be harvested and – as in the single player – there are several challenges dotted around to complete together such as races, dance-offs or fights. I wouldn’t say there’s too much longevity to this mode, but it will definitely give you and the family a fun hour or so.
Bee Simulator attempts to educate through play, doing so in a charming, entertaining way. The solo campaign is short but sweet but it effectively highlights the role bee’s play in our ecosystem. Great for younger players due to not only the low difficulty but also the informative nature, I have a feeling even the adults will find more enjoyment here than you may expect.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.