You ever wanted to try out a game that has similar pixelated graphics similar to Stardew Valley and intricate gameplay will appeal to fans of Minecraft? Then, the solution to this is APICO, an cute indie beekeeping simulation game about breeding, collecting, & conserving bees; leave your boring city job behind to return to your family home in Port APICO and get back to your beekeeping roots!
Set in a series of lush environments, APICO uniquely combines resource gathering, biology, and beekeeping minigames, taking ideas from a mix of real-life and fantasy apiculture & floriculture. Similarly to the premise of Stardew Valley, APICO’s protagonist returns to Port APICO from the city life with the main goal of rediscovering lost species, cross-breeding new bees, and helping repopulate the islands.
The tiny town is inhabited by a handful of NPCs, including the protagonist’s grandmother, with other NPCs found hidden around the diverse islands surrounding the main starting area. As the player learns more about bees and begins restoring different species, the townsfolk open up more and begins to engage in conversation with you that helps build relationships.
APICO is a unique mix of building, resource gathering and production. What you are focusing on makes the game more unique, as you take on the role of the “Bee Savior”. With the main point of APICO being a beekeeping simulator, it presents the process of caring, discovering, breeding and releasing bees clearly, which seems to have drawn a lot of inspiration from real-life beekeeping, but in pixel art style.
APICO suprisingly has a detailed character creator which reminds of the one from Terraria, especially for a small indie game, with many options for hair colour, skin colour, overalls, and undershirt. While, you aren’t exactly able to edit facial features, but there are some preset options that have different hairstyle and facial features.
Other than beekeeping, APICO also introduces a big selection of tools and machines players will need to start/maintain their bee farm such as: Sawbenches, Apiaries, Uncapping Benches, Extractores and much more.
I find the crafting system is pretty well balanced, having the players to carefully think about and managing the resources they have on hands. The system also allows multiple crafting windows to be kept open at once, streamlining the process of moving resources from one bench to the next.
Due to having many complex systems needed to be learned, it’s necessary and complementary to include a quest book that serves as a guide for essential mechanices of the game. The book kind of sets down a path per se that shows players a clear, consise walkthrough of each piece of equipment or new process, and then a goal to complete. Once completed, players are rewarded with resources to help upkeep their bee farm.
In my opinion, the most rewarding process of APICO is the main selling of the game which is the bee breeding and conservation mechanics players will begin using early in the game. In order to rejuvinate the bees population, collecting and crossbreeding wild bees found around island to create new breeds that’ve become extinct. As of currently, APICO offers a little bit over than 30 speices of bees; that makes the bee breeding mechanics more complex and in-depth, with bees possessing genetic markers that make new hybrids possible, as well as traits for productivity, lifespan, and fertility. Players can use the Predictor to look at the genetic traits of queen bees, while the Microscope can give more details about a specific bee species’ traits. The complex mixture of possibilities makes breeding bees a rewarding and exciting process for players.
Once a player has discovered a new bee species and has raised enough extra bees, the new species can be released into the wild to help restore the wild bee populations found in APICO, giving players the ability to affect the environment of Port APICO, and rebuild lost bee population.
Another thing I’d love to give the developers lots of credits is their commitment to giving APICO beautiful music and sound effects. While the soundtrack aren’t particularly my forte, I have to admit that it’s really relaxing. The realistic sound effects is the cherry on top for APICO, the sound of crickets chirping, axe chopping, winds, etc add more levels of immersion.
Having spent countless of hours in Stardew Valley, I always use up my stamina without checking it then proceed to pass out and somehow lose some of my items. This is really subjective, but it’s a good thing that stamina is non-existent in APICO so you won’t pass out when working and don’t need to sleep to gain back stamina though you can if you want to pass time.
The only nitpick I have with APICO is that the game doesn’t have running at all. Personally, I love to be able to travel between places like home and forests in case if my inventory or to town if I want to get something needed fast. Bees in sim games always have given me a bad time, back in Stardew Valley, I always need to be able to run from beehives i knocked down from trees since the bees are chasing me. Though, I get why the devs didn’t include in running is probably due to them wanting you, the players, to enjoy the world with everything it has to offer.
Overall, I love APICO a lot despite there being a lot to grasp initially. On paper, it may look like a mindless, simple sim but it will consume a lot of your time in order to do works with bees, materials, crafting and breeding. APICO provides way way more than enough gameplay for its cost, and on top of that, the developers are trying to show us the actual decline of bee populations and trying to help while trying to sneak in a bit of biology in the game. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for APICO!
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on PC