Bee Simulator, by Varsav Game Studios, is a game about being the best that you can bee.
At PAX South, I was treated to a demo of the latest build of Bee Simulator by none other than its Creative Director, Łukasz Rosiński. At first, I thought I was going to see a strictly educational game with an ‘as close as you can get’ realistic portrayal of the life and daily activities of a bee. What I was treated to, however, was an arcade game full of playful dialogue, fun flight controls and a whole lot of Central Park to discover.
The demo began with naming my bee, which I jokingly named Ryan, and performing some tasks within a small rocky area that contained a pond, filled with flowers and other insects. I am allured to a huge double-helix golden ‘pole’ in the distance, and after reaching it am prompted to go ‘collect pollen’ — a task completed by flying through golden rings scattered above flowers. After collecting enough pollen to keep Zyrtec in business for a year, and just as I was about drop off the pollen at the honeycombs, a wasp invades this ‘bee paradise’ of mine. Looks like it’s time to rumble with my bumble.
Wasps are a natural foe to the bees, looking to destroy hives and generally just like being punks, it seems. I enter a rhythm-based fight against the wasp, which is pretty basic but entertaining enough, and emerge from the bout triumphant. Now that the colony is safe, I am free to enter it. The dripping wet-with-honey beehive, houses a huge family of fellow bees, and also contains a chamber where the Queen bee lives. Upon meeting with her, she repurposes me as a honeybee and tasks me with collecting more pollen for the hive.
From here, I was given open exploration of the outside world, which is actually a fully realized version of Central Park in New York City. I could choose to collect more pollen or take up additional tasks like bee races, fighting other wasps, or just messing around with people. After asking about the mortality of these bees, I was told by Łukasz that you do ‘die’ after stinging things, but you’re actually reborn as a new bee whenever it happens — presumably to keep the action flowing.
I really liked what I saw of Bee Simulator. Underneath the outer shell, there is certainly some educational content within the game, as evidenced by cutscenes and loading screens that contain ‘bee trivia’. Beyond that, however, is a bright, gorgeously-rendered arcade game with an open exploration aspect to it. I only got to see a small chunk of the planned areas of the game, but I can’t wait to see more.