A beautiful blend of collecting resources and management dynamics leaves players of APICO buzzing.
This new game developed by TNgineers and published by Whitethorn Games is all about the bees. In APICO players will play as a beekeeping sim who is trying to build upon the family business. In this semi laid-back game you will learn all about the breeding, collecting, and conservation of bees. Which honestly is so important to our real-world ecosystem and makes this game fun for gamers of all ages, but especially for middle schoolers.
I am a huge advocate for finding ways to bring educational games into the classroom. One reason is because I come from the generation of The Oregon Trail. The second reason is because video games can help build important skills like time management, critical thinking, and memory. Not to mention integrating games into lesson plans can help keep them focused on the topic, while making it easier to retain information. These are all reasons why APICO would be great in the classroom, as well for any younger players who like this style of game.
It’s All About Biology
While APICO is hyped up to be a resource style game, where it really shines is the educational aspect. Especially surrounding the topic of Biology and cross-breeding. There are over 30 species of bees to be found over four locations. These locations include the forest where you start. As well as include other areas you can travel to with the help of Skipper, like the Swamps, Tundra, and Hallows. However another way you can get bees is by cross-breeding Hybrid queens in hopes they might mutate into an entirely new species.
This is where for older adults you might start to get flashbacks to that time in science class where you were introduced to the good ol’ Punnett Square. The Punnett Square is a square diagram that helps predict the genotypes of a particular cross or breeding experiment. The traits in the game focus on Lifespan, Productivity, Fertility, Behavior, Climate, and Stability. Of course to create a thriving beekeeping business, you are going to want to produce top notch bees.
APICO is really simple in how things are broken down in bite size quests that introduce all the different aspects. For example, you will be asked to build items that will make beekeeping a breeze like the Predictor which uses Punnett Squares to show what your chances are regarding offspring. Now while this isn’t the goal of the game, it is a big factor in the overall scheme of things. Which is why this overall mechanic is great for science lovers, younger gamers, and science teachers who need to cover this topic in school.
Busy as a Bee
APICO has the feeling of being laid back at times, while at other times it can get overwhelming. The reason is because there is always something to do. As you start to work your way through the tutorial and building all the machines needed, it feels like finding a moment of peace is fleeting. Especially when you start to expand your bee collection.
A lot of the machines are used to help process items you can sell to earn money for the business. And with each machine, usually comes a certain task associated with it. For example, the Uncapping Bench which is used uncap the frames before you can extract the honey. Players will need to move their mouse up and down to “scrape” the frames. Once that is completed, the player then will put the frames in the Extractor to move the mouse side to side.
It is important to note there are semi-automatic upgrades to machines like this. As well as that you can set up shortcuts to inventory to help with flow of items. But at the end of the day, the player still needs to help wind up these machines, or keep on top of inventory and processes. While this can be tedious or overwhelming, this style would be suitable for gamers who like to be more hands on with stuff compared to farming games that make you just wait.
An important thing to add is that while this game can get a little overwhelming, we love any game that allows for multiplayers. APICO allows for up to four players, regardless of where you purchase the game.
This is just another reason I think this game is perfect for younger gamers and students. The game really focuses on a set of tasks and procedures which in the end help build critical reasoning, problem solving, and strengthens memory.
Bite-Size Info and Quests
This game has a lot of information which is packed into guides players will collect along the way. Starting off with Grandpa’s Guide, players will start to accomplish quests that double as the tutorial to how the game is played. This style was the perfect way to deliver important gaming mechanic breakdowns, while still sprinkling in science facts. It also was the first time I had seen such detail to a tutorial section in regards to farming, resource style games which mostly leave the player to figure it out on their own. Plus, the guides themselves just added to the magic that is APICO.
The only downfall to this, as a quest lover myself, was the drive to complete it all quickly. This in the end kind of led to burnout, but also lack of motivation to continue. Now there are other quests that can be worked on. For example, finding all the bee types and making items to sell for certain NPCs. But even that might lose its appeal with focus on the small niche of beekeeping. One of the reasons games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing do so well is due to the vast variety the games offer to players.
In the end, as a player of APICO I was more into the real world information at times than I was the overall game play.
It’s the Bee’s Knees
Overall, I would give APICO an 7 out of 10. This game is so thought out and beautifully detailed, making the gaming experience fun and exciting. Not to mention the beautiful colors and simple design, makes the graphics pop. APICO is also worth the purchase if you like resource, farm style gaming and/or you have always dreamt of having a bee farm.
The only real downfall is the game focuses on such a small niche. But at the same time, that niche is why this game would thrive as an educational tool for middle school science teachers and young students in general. It really breaks down important information that is applicable to real world situations, like conservation of bees which we depend on. However, in regards to players who just want to have the flexibility to do whatever they want in a farming situation, this might not be what they are looking for.
One thing that I wish more games in this genre would consider is adding more hands on mechanics. I thoroughly enjoyed the machines having the added mechanic aspect. As well as being able to upgrade to semi-mechanic later on. This part of APICO made me realize how much downtime a lot of farming games have, which is nice but also can get boring.
APICO is now available on PC and Switch for $19.99 through Steam, itch.io, GameJolt, the Epic Games Store, and Humble Store. You can also follow the game on Twitter, Twitch, their website, and Guilded. Not to mention join their Discord.