For a few years, simulator video games had been beforehand the protect of uber-serious gamers, eager to check out loving recreations of pastimes that might charitably be referred to as uninteresting. If a sport had ‘Simulator’ within the title, it was a transparent signal that it’d be an admirably straight-faced expertise, with a give attention to essentially the most minor, granular element. Although low finances and sometimes missing from a visible standpoint by way of graphical bells and whistles, the immersion and realism was all that gamers needed. There are tales going way back to the ’80s of individuals making real-time transatlantic journeys in flight simulator video games, for instance, which most definitely doesn’t sound just like the sort of expertise that the majority players are in search of.
The adorably silly and surprisingly enjoyable, GTA-with-caprines chaos of Goat Simulator appeared to kickstart an curiosity in oddball ‘Simulator’ video games, nonetheless, light-heartedly mocking the seriousness of ‘actual’ simulators and spawning numerous, more and more weird imitators of its personal (Grass Simulator and Bathe With Your Dad Simulator 2015 being two PC-based oddities that use the simulator title, however have little or no in frequent with a standard sim, and even Goat Simulator itself).
With Bee Simulator, we now have a title that does take itself considerably critically – even providing some instructional information alongside the way in which, within the intro and loading screens, relating to the lifecycle of the bee and their significance to the environment – however, as with titles corresponding to Goat Simulator, it does purpose to be a extra conventional sport, too.
Set in a stylised world primarily based on New York’s Central Park – albeit a nicely-idealised model impressed by the precise location, reasonably than making an attempt to actually replicate it – the primary story mode of Bee Simulator sees gamers buzzing round within the function of a honey bee, gathering nectar for the hive. There’s a pleasant animated intro as properly; the sport begins along with your little bee rising from her larval type, at which level you possibly can title her (the sport suggests a Bee-related pun, however this may be instantly modified). Your newly-transformed insect is then shepherded by means of a fast flying tutorial by a really matronly bee, earlier than setting off to satisfy the Queen and go away the hive for the primary mission.
There’s a pleasant sense of scale – even contained in the hive – in addition to an exquisite atmosphere, because of the sounds of nature that you just’ll hear. The people your bee encounters all through the story converse in a sort of garbled gobbledegook, not in contrast to the language heard in video games corresponding to The Sims.
A click on of the proper stick shifts the view into first-person ‘bee imaginative and prescient’, which helpfully highlights waypoints and objects that may be interacted with, color coding issues corresponding to flowers to indicate their rarity. Passing by means of an amber-coloured circle above a flower collects its pollen, which you’ll solely have the ability to carry a restricted quantity of earlier than needing to take it again to the hive.
There’s all kinds of flowers to find and gamers may also have interaction in fight mini-games in opposition to different bugs, corresponding to wasps; fight in Bee Simulator is offered as a quite simple rhythm motion train during which you’ll make timed button presses with a view to defeat your opponent. One other mini-game you’ll encounter is the waggle dance – additionally a rhythm motion sport – however as an alternative of button presses, you’ll as an alternative want to repeat the motion sequence of the bee you’re attempting to speak with. The ultimate sort of mini-game is the race, during which you’ll must fly by means of checkpoints with precision and sometimes at nice pace; it’s fairly a distinction to the laidback, easygoing nature of the remainder of the sport. Rounding all of it off is a beautiful soundtrack – by a minimum of Mikolaj Stroinski, composer of The Witcher three and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – which provides to the playful sense of marvel inherent in a lot of the sport.
Although this all sounds tremendous sufficient, sadly, there are a variety of points with Bee Simulator. Flying in a much less open atmosphere feels extraordinarily erratic and imprecise; although it may be a pleasure to maneuver round within the extra open environments of the park, the hive and different extra restricted areas may be considerably irritating. The controls aren’t as clean and intuitive as we would like, and this removes numerous the enjoyable that’s hinted at by the sport’s core premise; flying round as a bee must be exhilarating, nevertheless it hardly ever hits that prime right here.
It’s due – partially – to this management situation that the sport’s races are maddeningly annoying affairs too; although the extra light exploration is stress-free and satisfying, attempting to shortly go by means of checkpoints in sequence – with essentially the most minor errors or drops in pace seeing your bee unceremoniously kicked again to the start of the race – is overly punishing, particularly in a sport that, in some ways, strives to be a family-friendly, laidback expertise.
The visuals, although undeniably naturalistic, may definitely do with a bit extra vibrancy; most areas really feel considerably muted and desaturated. The graphics lack element too, however even then the body charge nonetheless struggles at instances. Loading instances, notably when beginning the sport, are additionally an issue. You’d be forgiven, when beginning Bee Simulator, for pondering it’s crashed, because it hangs on what’s just about a black display (apart from three white dots within the nook) for what appears like a really very long time.
Lots of the non-threatening creatures within the atmosphere really feel lifeless and stiff (the people encountered additionally fall into this lure, sadly, wanting not completely in contrast to mannequins), although their sound results are properly accomplished and the sense of scale when discovering (and flying previous) bigger creatures is impressively dealt with. The marketing campaign is extremely brief, which is a shock given the sport’s comparatively excessive RRP. Although there’s plenty of multiplayer modes (the place gamers can compete or play co-operatively) and additional bee skins so as to add additional worth, it nonetheless feels somewhat threadbare for its value vary.
In the end, it’s troublesome to know who the ultimate product will enchantment to; it could have been a superb sport for youthful players, had it not been for the punishing design and ‘on the spot failure’ nature of the racing mini-games. Extra skilled gamers are more likely to discover themselves breezing in a short time by means of the whole lot that Bee Simulator has to supply, regardless of the problem spikes. As such, it is caught between a rock and a tough place.
Bee Simulator is a surprisingly considerate sport with baggage of allure to spare, an exquisite soundtrack and a fairly detailed world to discover. Nevertheless, the expertise is critically soured by the delicate controls, together with the punishing – and really irritating – racing segments. A number of visible and technical issues crop up as properly, which – when added to the sport’s brevity and distinct lack of content material (particularly for this asking value) – all conspire to make Bee Simulator a a lot much less profitable enterprise that it may have been.