APICO will keep you buzz-y for a long time! It’s a lovely little timesink for all your procrastination needs – and that’s a great thing btw. I spent way too much time in the demo and now that the game is set to release tomorrow, I’m excited to be able to play the full release already, thanks to a review copy provided by the publisher. Again, I procrastinated a lot and this review came out later than I planned as I got immersed in this game for longer than planned. This game is great. APICO takes you through the process of breeding, discovering, releasing, and taking care of bees with lots of inspiration taken from bee-keeping as shown in reality, but also in video games/fantasy. If you want to read my first impressions of it, you may bee interested in this post right here where I talk about how it’s very chill and how I sunk hours into the demo… but you can try out the demo yourself as it provides with hours worth of content, though buying the game will also support bees as the developers are donating a portion of their sales towards national and international beekeeping charities. The overall vibe of the game is incredibly chill and less bees-ness related but you can certainly make an effort to amass money or just explore the world or you may wanna restore all sorts of rare bees to the world and make an effort to save the ecosystem. It offers you a lot of freedom, which is great!
Publisher: Whitethorn Games
Genre: Indie, 2D, Sandbox, Immersive Sim, Exploration
Release Date: May 20th, 2022
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was provided by the publisher.
But where do we start? At first, you’ll sail to your home island where you’re immediately greeted by a plethora of friendly people that will somewhat guide you through the beginnings of bee-keeping. Your best friend is the guide that your grandfather wrote ages ago, although a few pages seem to be missing that you may wanna fill out yourself. This guide essentially functions as a tutorial that guides you through different crafting processes while also rewarding you with items to give you a kickstart in the beginning stages of the game. From felling trees to crafting planks, you’ll be taught everything you need to know about the core gameplay mechanics of the game. Farm materials, craft items, craft workstations, use those to craft other items and then use those to make a profit or unlock advanced stuff. Crafting is a big part of the game and you can automate it later on as well, making life a bit easier for you in the process. Obviously, though, this game is about the bees, so once you have built your first apiary and collected your first few wild bees, you’ll get to breeding!
And well, the breeding mechanics here are incredibly fun and in-depth! As you go on, you’ll find a plethora of different bees from common bees to verdant bees to forest bees and other kids that are a lot rarer. These can be multiplied by the use of beehives and apiaries, as well as other equipment. A bee queen will produce more bees that then can be used to create another bee queen or you can release them if you don’t like their stats. Primarily, you’ll want to increase the stats that these bees have through multiple generations worth of breeding. At the same time, though, you don’t have to do that necessarily if you don’t like min-maxing bees… Another aspect of breeding, after all, is to crossbreed different species to attain new species of bees that you then can also populate the world with. I like the idea of just being able to release all the ones you don’t like and I find it a nice touch.
What’s more is that you also can explore the world, decorate it, and plant all sorts of seeds to possibly cross-breed flowers. There is a lot to do with the unique crafting, the beekeeping minigames, and crossbreeding. You can also sell all sorts of beekeeping products, explore a variety of biomes, and uncover forgotten secrets. Also, you can do all of that with up to three other friends in online co-op! APICO feels like the lovechild of a bunch of games that I really enjoy from Stardew Valley to Koi Farm to Niche and Littlewood. The art style reminds me a lot of Littlewood with that grainy Pixel Art style while the number of ways to play the game and the number of things to do really add a lot to the experience.
And what’s more, is that you can genuinely tell that the two developers of this game love crafting in games (as promoted on their store page). The crafting systems are unique and revolve around multiple steps yet don’t feel tedious at all. Through random drop chances for special seeds and rare breeds, you’ll find something interesting in every attempt of crafting things. At the same time, I love that you can move around the inventories of all sorts of storage areas and keep them open as long as they’re still on the screen. Being able to open a bunch and just hit “Esc” to close them all is incredibly nice. It’s just something I’m very fond of in terms of design.
And after spending about six hours in the demo and a few in the full release, I can’t really say that I dislike anything here. It’s a very chill and relaxed experience. More bee-puns would be great, I guess? The soundtrack is rather nice but I find it a bit sad that it doesn’t play too often, although that’s a design choice akin to what Minecraft does, so I’m sure it has its reasons. The overall sound design is pretty relaxing as well. “Such zen, much wow.” Honestly, I can’t find anything to nitpick but then again, I love games like these and I love how well-designed APICO is overall. If you wanna try it out for yourself, there is a demo on the steam page with the first few hours of the game and nine species to breed. The full release features over 30 species to find and rediscover, which is… A LOT. And then there are also mods that you may wanna install if you’re looking for an extra sting in your game. I highly recommend checking out APICO if you’re into chill immersive sims with sandbox and crafting mechanics in it!