Apico – Review
Follow Genre: Management, Farming Sim
Developer: TNgineers
Publisher: Whitethorn Games
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested On: PC

Apico – Review

Site Score
5.5
Good: Relaxing, good ideas
Bad: Lacking content, repetitive
User Score
4.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Bees are really important beings in real life that don’t tend to have much of a presence in video games. While plenty include references to them, these tend to be mostly jokes or gimmicky items to give the user a chuckle. Apico attempts to change this by making itself all about bees, presenting a riff on the farm simulator genre where players will be tasked with developing a thriving hive.

Story

Apico’s story is basically non-existent, presenting the player as someone who’s just moved back to their grandparent’s village in order to take over the bee farm. Other than this, the game doesn’t add any plot and doesn’t even feature characters worth mentioning. The characters that do exist are bland caricatures that simply serve their purpose as shops for the player to use.

Graphics

The game’s graphics consist of simplistic low-detail pixel art with bright pastel tones. Apico’s visual department is certainly not its focus, with the world consisting of masses of identical land and plants with the only exception being the different biomes of each island. While players can also build their own structures, the available decoration options are not particularly diverse besides painting the same handful of items in different colors.

Sound

Apico’s music is quite remarkable, with a varied soundtrack that plays its different songs over time. The SFX featured in the game are also quite decent although not remarkable, simply doing their job. There is also no voice acting to speak of, all dialogues are delivered through text. Additionally, players have the in-game option to purchase the music tracks and play them at will should they so desire, adding a little bit of control.

Gameplay

As previously mentioned, Apico is a farming simulator focused on bee breeding. What this entails for the player is that they’ll have to collect bees found around the world and crossbreed them in order to discover new species. Each bee species also has unique properties based on its genes, changing up the breeding and the products they generate.

The basic products generated by the bees are wax and other resources utilized in crafting. While the player will at first begin by relying on the hives found throughout the map for their production, they’ll soon be able to craft apiaries. These apiaries allow players to insert frames for the queen bee to fill with honey. Once this is done, the frames have to be uncapped and centrifuged in two other machines to obtain their resources.

Apico’s main problem also comes with this. The game doesn’t feature any sort of automation, leaving players to manually extract the frames, uncap, and centrifuge them each time. This leads to a massive time investment in menial tasks which ultimately leads nowhere. Most of the products generated through bees only serve to create more apiaries or other bee-related tools, which in turn only make the farm larger and increase the workload for the player. Ultimately, having a handful of apiaries and swapping the bees depending on the resources needed seems to be more effective than any other approach.

This also means the game barely evolves past the initial point, and regardless of the progression players might have into the game’s goals, the approach remains the same. Other than a pair of upgrades to the uncapper and centrifuge, players will see practically no change from the beginning to the end of the game. Funnily enough, the way machines and production are handled also make the game surprisingly stressful, forcing players to constantly juggle apiary and machine windows in order to retrieve and replace frames.

At first, players will start with access to a handful of species on the main island. As they unlock more by crossbreeding them, the handful of NPCs will start selling new items, eventually unlocking a boat to visit other lands with. However, unlocking new species is not as simple as it may seem at first. In order to achieve this, a crossbred bee queen must be generated using two drones, which will then have the chance to generate the new bee.

This makes juggling several apiaries even more unnecessary since bees that have already been bred into new species can effectively be shelved into bee boxes for safekeeping. Unless a special product generated by a specific species is required for something, retiring already discovered bees to breed new ones is what the game seems to expect players to do. Other than filling up the species book, Apico features very little gameplay to speak of.

While the genes and habits of bees can be modified by planting flowers around them, these are rather straightforward. Although a breeding system also exists for said flowers, it is inextricably linked to bee progression. Later on in the game, a few new tools to handle bees are introduced, but these are limited to gimmicks that simply hamper the player’s progression until they obtain enough money to afford said tools.

This also holds true for the means to obtain the money required, since selling bee produce is rather inefficient. The best way for players to generate money is selling Apicola, but its production is sadly limited due to water only being obtainable with rain and it being walled behind yet more tools to purchase. Ironically, once the player has the main tools unlocked, money becomes utterly useless due to the lack of things to purchase.

Conclusion

Apico is a rather unique title that sadly lacks content past its main premise. While those looking for something to wind down at night might find what they’re looking for, fans of games like Stardew Valley won’t find something similar here. Sold for £15.49/$19.99/€16,79, it is recommendable to wait for more content or a sale before purchasing the game.

Personal Opinion

“As someone who has played modded Minecraft for countless hours, I was looking forward to playing Apico due to its similarity to the mod Forestry. However, I was sorely disappointed when I found out that the game had almost nothing to look forward to. You see, while in Forestry I can produce materials I can use for other things by using bees, on top of being able to automate the production. Apico’s bees, on the other hand, only give materials to create more apiaries or similar equipment. Once you discover a handful of species all novelty wears off, since discovering more is the same affair repeated over and over. While the Smoker, Acclimatizer, and other special tools required for the bees on different islands are a nice spin, the fact that these bees do nothing new makes them seem like a gimmick to pad out the runtime. I honestly ended up finding the main gameplay loop of uncapping, centrifuging, and replacing frames rather dull and honestly stressful, since frames are constantly being filled anew. The window management doesn’t aid this either, since instead of targeting the latest inventory opened, items go to the first one or the player’s inventory. This is a counterintuitive measure that bogs down what ultimately could’ve been a rather good system, since it does allow a lot of freedom of management otherwise. Ultimately, I don’t hate Apico, but boy, I sure do hope it’ll get some actual content, otherwise, there’s no point in touching it.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Apico - Review, 4.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.