It is said that every author’s first character is a stand-in for the author themselves. This can be true for video games too — and Where the Bees Make Honey, developed by Wakefield Interactive and published by Whitethorn Digital, shows that sometimes you need a little more than that.
The idea behind Where the Bees Make Honey, successfully kickstarted in early 2019, is nice and simple: contemplate about your childhood and reflect upon the changes that adult life has brought. Or in this case, join the developer in doing so.
The natural choice for this venture would be an interactive experience — or walking simulator, if you prefer that moderately loaded but ubiquitous term — and Where the Bees Make Honey does indeed go down that path, at least, in parts. And that is where the problem starts.
Where the Bees Make Honey does a lot of things and does not have a particularly strong focus. In addition to the aforementioned exploration parts, it also offers puzzles while putting you in the role of a little girl and a hare. This isn’t an issue as such — adventure-puzzle games and exploration titles blend well — but becomes ones with every more or less jarring transition.
Nothing about Where the Bees Make Honey feels particularly organic. The whole game is a compilation of gameplay segments that are more or less just strung together. There are puzzles, but only half a dozen, and none of them are particularly challenging. This makes the various puzzles feel like little more than roadblocks on the exploration path.
A strong narrative or atmosphere could balance this out, but Where the Bees Make Honey has neither. It looks pretty and colourful — overused artsy screen blur aside — but at the end of the day, all it tells us is that childhood days are great because they come without the responsibility and existential dread of adulthood.
Even that could be acceptable, but not at the price point and length that Where the Bees Make Honey is at. The whole game can be completed in less than two hours and there is little reason to come back to it.
If anything extends that experience, it will be one of the game’s plentiful bugs and technical issues. The controls are unresponsive, clipping happens frequently and controller support sometimes just collapses altogether. None of this is excusable in a game this short and comparably simple.
Where the Bees Make Honey could have been charming and possibly even insightful, but ends up as a technical disaster that probably should have been a short film instead.