Bee Simulator is more action game than sim, but at least you can sting kids in the head

Violence against children is rarely tolerated in games, probably for good reason, but after emerging from my beehive (I'm a bee) I see some dumb kid and his dumb dad cabbage-patching in the park. On the one hand at least they aren't doing the Fortnite floss, but on the other hand they aren't even dancing to music. Just a silent, eternal cabbage patch.

They must die. Painfully.

Unfortunately they don't die when I buzz over (I'm a bee, remember) and sting the kid in the head three times and the dad once or twice. Still, a message has been sent. Stop dancing like idiots, humans, or face my tiny, pointy wrath!

I'm a couple hours into Bee Simulator and so far it's more arcade game than simulation. To collect pollen, you buzz through glowing rings above flowers. To fight wasps, you click on timed prompts to execute attack and defense combos. To get directions from another bee, you mimic their movements with a memory game—though most bees just straight up talk to you.

There's nothing wrong with that, and so far it's plenty cute and kinda fun. But it's not really a simulation, if that's what you were hoping for. Take my attack on the innocent child above. Female honey bees can only sting once because their stingers are barbed and thus get ripped from their bodies and left behind in the victim, which quickly leads to the honey bee's death. If this was a real simulation, my stinger—along with much of my digestive track, plus a bunch of my bee nerves and muscles—would have remained embedded in that kid's dome and I would have died writhing in agony minutes later.

Having said that, maybe it's good this isn't a simulation after all.

The world of Bee Simulator is a pleasant, family-friendly one, containing lots of educational information about bees and a saccharine voice acting style that's pretty squarely aimed at young gamers. There's a semi-open world aspect that allows you to explore freely, along with specific story missions as you venture out to collect pollen—you can use 'bee vision' to find the good stuff that gives you speed boosts—and meet your neighbors. Since your hive is located in a Central Park type area there's all all sorts of wildlife, domestic dogs, and of course people to hover around and interact with (sting on the head).

The difficulty wavers quite a bit—playing on easy mode, I did indeed find the first series of quests very easy but I'm now dealing with a race against another bee that's extremely tricky, requiring you to speed through rings, collect power-ups, avoid de-buffs and obstacles like spider webs, drafts, and swarms of flies. I've failed it about four times now. Plus, the bee I'm chasing cheats by not flying through all the rings. 

Lousy cheater. When I catch her I'm going to sting her to death, if that's an option. (I'm fairly sure it's not.)

Bee Simulator also has local co-op so you can play with up to four bee pals, though I haven't tried that yet. The game is a little too kind and cheery for my personal tastes, as I was hoping for a more visceral sim than an action game, but it's still pretty fun and the bees themselves are lovely and nicely animated. 

One specific complaint: you can hardly hear the bees buzzing! They're nearly silent, and that disappoints me a bit. There's a huge tree in a park near my house that is home to a massive hive of bees, and when I walk under the branches the buzzing is intense, intimidating, and almost otherworldly. I love it. It's the sound of an organic engine. Crank up the buzzing sounds in Bee Simulator, I say.

Bee Simulator is available on the Epic Store and Steam.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.