Welcome to the hive. VARSAV Game Studios’ Bee Simulator is exactly what the box says: a simulator where you play as a honeybee. You collect pollen, defend the tree where your family lives, take orders from the queen, and all sorts of other apian pastimes, and there are co-op and PvP options. Is it worth all the buzz, though? Let’s find out.
Just bee yourself
There is a wide range of motion when you’re a bee, and the controls in this game pull this off decently well. There are times when your bee (hereafter referred to as Beescuit, the default name the game provided) goes too quickly for fine movements, but overall, flying is fun. You can also interact with the environment, albeit in a limited way. Your sting can pop balloons and hurt humans (though they don’t react at all to either). You can absorb energy from fruits and sweets to activate a faster flight speed. You can even collect different types of pollen from plants and bring it back to the hive.
The good, the bad, and the buzzy
Despite being a simulator, there is a story. Beescuit wakes up from her cell after being a larva and is ready to get down to beesness. She flies out into the world and winds up defending the hive from hostile wasps and hornets, guiding other bees home through dance, and finding a new place for the hive when humans destroy their original home. It’s all very sweet and often rather funny.
The various challenges have their own mechanics and styles. Dancing with other bees from the hive has you playing a Simon-type minigame to learn the location of a rare flower. Chase sequences have Beescuit trying to follow a target while avoiding obstacles. Combat is simple yet fun, and it has a school notebook aesthetic for the hub.
It’s not all roses and daisies, however. There are times when the game demands more precise controls than it offers. Flying through the cluttered areas like the hive leads to collisions more often than not. Chase sequences exacerbate this problem by making Beescuit fly through rings, collect speed power-ups, and avoid obstacles, all while under a time limit. This is a lot to ask of a little bee. Also, collecting all your pollen early leads to Beescuit reminding you to return to the hive and deposit it. As pollen is plentiful, the hive is always far away, and returning often finishes the chapter before you can find challenges, you just have to deal with it and wonder why “HEY! LISTEN!” is still a thing.
Bee-come the change you want to see in the world
Comparisons to Untitled Goose Game are unavoidable, but the two could not be any more different. Bee Simulator, if anything, is closest to an interactive attraction at Epcot, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s educational, offering bee trivia during load screens, keeping things as accurate to life as possible while telling a story, and incredibly wholesome. The writing is full of puns and references, and there’s something for people of all ages.
Its niche strengths and rough edges sadly make it a tough sell for most people. However, it is truly a unique experience, and one that I’d like to see more often. The game opens with a short movie about how important bees are to the world and our way of life. It reminds us that they’re dying off due to new pressures — most of them human-made — and that without them we’re going to be in rough shape. If more video games combined fun mechanics with educational messages, then I think we’d be looking at a better world. At least I hope that would be the case, and it seems to have been what the developers behind Bee Simulator were working towards as well.
A review code was provided by the publisher.