APICO review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Whitethorn Digital
Developer: TNgineers
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

The more I play APICO, the more convinced I feel that I?m playing it wrong. It calls itself ?a laid-back beekeeping sim game about breeding, collecting, & conserving bees.” The Steam reviews are overwhelmingly positive, praising it for being calm and relaxing. And me?all I can think whenever I play is how stressed it makes me.

In my defence, the distance between APICO and survival games isn?t that big. The veneer may be warm and cuddly, but the game still expects you to get into a loop of gathering resources and crafting tools, with a bit of time added here and there for expanding your bee colony and breeding new species of bees. The timing isn?t over-the-top strict, but if you don?t get into the right groove of building frames and extracting honey very quickly, you?ll soon find yourself devoting lots of extra time to more and more chores.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is the method through which APICO teaches you how to play. It?s the sort of game that gives you screen after screen of explanation, and it subscribes to a ?learn by reading” approach, rather than ?learn by doing.” While much of the game will seem familiar if you?ve ever played any number of those survival or building games ? which makes sense, since APICO?s genesis was inspired by a Minecraft beekeeping mod ? there?s still a bit of a learning curve here as you figure out everything the game wants you to do. Given that it?s asking you to do a lot at every given moment, that means there?s a lot to learn.

To the game?s credit, of course: it really does try to be the laidback beekeeping sim that it promises. It plops you down in a port town where everyone is really friendly, and it gives you a seemingly endless amount of resources to achieve the many goals it gives you. Plus the game is promising to give a portion of profits to beekeeping charities, which is unquestionably needed and necessary.

So I feel like a churl saying the game doesn?t do anything for me. Saying you don?t like APICO feels almost as bad as saying you don?t like puppies or kittens (for the record: I?m pro-puppy and pro-kitten!). It?s clearly a game worth investigating if you?re fond of farming sims that ask you to keep lots of plates spinning at any given moment. But truthfully, it doesn?t do anything for me.

Whitethorn Digital provided us with an APICO Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B