If you’re unfamiliar with APICO, it’s a laid-back beekeeping sim game. You can find bees, breed them to create new types, and release them into the wild to repopulate the world. There’s even some resource gathering, home building, and exploration involved. Plus, you can use honey the bees produce to make other fun items to sell, like Apicola (honey soda)!
APICO is super laid-back, but can feel a little overwhelming at first. Instead of implementing forced, unskippable tutorials, the game uses a set of books you can access at any time at the bottom of the screen. The first one, “Grandpa’s Guide”, contains 46 chapters. These chapters are tutorial pages that explain what to do, and reward you when you complete it. These pages of explanations can be accessed even after completing, which is great for those of us who are forgetful.
Graphics and Bees
APICO is SO cute. Seriously cute. Its pixel graphics lend a sense of nostalgia to it, but it’s beautifully colored, too. There’s no overwhelmingly bright colors and nothing is difficult to look at. Nevermind that the little beehives and different wild bee species are adorable, too. Plus, each one of those has their own specific color so it’s easy to determine what type of bee it is at a glance. To make it easier to determine what kind of bee you’re looking at, it’s labeled with a three-letter abbreviation. Rolling your mouse over the bee will pop-up a small window with more information about it, too.
As for breeding the bees, Grandpa’s Guide walks you through setting that up really well. Then, “Beelia’s Almanac” further discusses each species. It also rewards you for discovering different types of bees! There are 45 different bee species for you to discover, making for a good amount of playtime as it may take a few rounds of crossbreeding to produce new species. Plus, you can use what your bees produce to make things like Apicola to sell in order to advance in other areas of the game.
The world of APICO is fairly small. There’s the mainland you start on, swamp biome, tundra biome, and the Hallows located at the center of the map. There are also some fishing spots in the ocean, and a few coral reefs which were recently added in. So, while exploring is a part of the game as each biome has its own unique species of bees, it’s not the main focus. Each biome has been lovingly crafted, though, and offers its own resources.
At first, the map feels too small, but it’s honestly perfectly sized for a game that isn’t adventure-focused. It’s easy to get to the different biomes with the boat to get resources or bees, and be back home quickly. It’s not a chore going anywhere, especially when you’ve turned on the Walk Through Trees accessibility option (which I recommend using; it makes playing so much easier). It also places the focus solely on the bees and breeding them, which is perfect. And you can terraform! So you can make space to suit your needs. Create the perfect bee garden with a little work!
APICO is an otherwise relaxing time. There are no time constraints to complete things. You can explore how you wish, even swimming through the shallower waters around the islands. You can terraform and build and decorate how and when you wish (items are unlocked via completing quests and such, but otherwise done at your pace). There are NPCs you can talk to, but they aren’t adamant and annoying about needing interaction. They also act as the shops of the world, offering useful items. It’s a great little game that’s perfect for learning about bees! And if you’ve done everything in the game, it not only supports, but encourages modding so you can get even more out of this sweet little game!
Nevermind that upon starting up the game, the main menu has links to the wiki! That’s a wonderfully useful piece of the internet that I used a few times as I played. There’s also a link to a charity that helps our real-life bee populations! So, not only is APICO a cute little bee game, it endeavors to support our real-life bee preservation efforts. I couldn’t love it more.
I give this game: