If you are a TL;DR reader and make a bee-line straight to the bottom of the page, let me make the journey easier – truth be told, while you won’t find a player who would berate or belittle this title, you also won’t find many waxing poetic about the hum drum gameplay that fails to generate much of a plan……B.
Sorry about that – I’ll try and bee-hive and tone it down from now on….
Apico is a beekeeper’s dream, with the goal of breeding, collecting and conserving bees you start off with nothing and must build the right equipment, and sweeten the pot for the winged cupids to get all hot and sticky and create the liquid heaven known as honey.
It’s as unique a video game concept as I’ve ever come across, but sadly the buzz it generates on paper doesn’t quite translate to the game, with a gameplay loop that ultimately wants you to create Egyptian plagues of insects through mind-numbingly bland menus and systems, and not for any real reason, other than well, making bay-bees.
I should preface all of this by saying that Apico is not bad at doing what it sets out to, and I am probably not the main target audience for a simulation game of this nature, as I need constant stimulus to enjoy a game, rather than me providing all the energy, but my goodness the queen must have eaten the fun before the developers could program it in, as it feels like I’m tasked with making something fun for someone else – and I was never very good at programming.
I’m not sure if I was expecting a cross between the cute, additive and intuitive Animal Crossing with a Minecraft bee system, but with a PC game menu system that transitions poorly to a controller and highly basic graphics somehow managing to overload the PS4 with jerky movements all over the map it’s hard within the opening moments to try and disassociate my initial expectations with the poor interface and the lack of a story/personality.
Bumbling about with bees of all types and many different characteristics, cross-breeding to make new types and exploiting them like underpaid workers in an Amazon warehouse where workers aren’t even allowed bee-breaks, you start to wonder if there is a reason for why you are turning into a honey baron, and Apico doesn’t really provide it beyond following its witty instructions in the manual sections.
There is an overarching goal to uncover the remainder of the map and conserve the second letter of the alphabet, but there is so little incentive and satisfaction in that feedback loop to match the effort to do so.
For some simulation fans, the fun might be found in the tedium, but sadly there are also game-based bugs (the one time I try and avoid a pun!) that corrupt game files – my save file needed completely wiping from within the system storage menu before I could even open the game again – as well as items that refuse to spawn, in addition to the stuttering frame rates.
A simulation without much stimulation, Apico is the b-movie without personality, asking you to be the worker drones for little payoff. If you were hoping to breed a bunch of stubborn bees however, this might be right up your Apiary, but bee-ware, the console port isn’t silky smooth – stick with the PC version instead.