By: L. Sahara McGirt (DarthSagaSwag)
Publisher: Whitethorn Games
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch coming July 7, 2022
When I started playing APICO, I was a little confused about what I was supposed to be doing in the game. Goals and story are not quite clear cut beyond the fact that you are a city dweller who comes from a family of beekeepers, and you have come to the island of Port APICO to take over beekeeping, where your grandparents have done it for years.
Now it's entirely up to you how you plan to bee keep and go about your time on the island. When I started playing, this lack of any major or clear-cut goals had me running around in circles going from hive to hive, collecting honeycombs, and breeding bees in an endless loop that quickly became dull. However, once I began unlocking the ability to craft new equipment, tools, and more, the game opened up in more interesting ways. Especially once I could complete some of the local Port APICO inhabitants' requests for different bees and the quests from the books
At first, I was focused on collecting honeycombs and bees, but as I unlocked equipment, I started focusing on how I was breeding bees, their traits, and other kinds of commodities the various bees produce. This is where APICO gets addictive. If you're the kind of person who likes to rise and grind in your games, APICO offers plenty of grind as you go from beehive to beehive to collecting honeycombs, breeding queens, and using your tools and equipment to turn your raw honey, beeswax and more into products such Apicola.
I'm not sure what the appeal to making Apicola for me was, but I ended up focusing my efforts on making as much of that while increasing my bee breeding and hives. After hours of playing, I organized my island full of bees, flowers, and trees and built a home/workshop. There is something terribly relaxing to getting into a loop of resource grinding and exploring while meeting personal goals.
Overall, while the gameplay loop can be addictive, we have to get into more elements of the game for this review. Aesthetically, APICO is simple. The simplified trees, bees, and characters don't offer too much to look at, but the simplistic works, especially in a game that's focused on a casual grind. Conversations and guides within the game are chock full of bee puns. If you, like me, are a fan of the many ways 'bee' can be inserted into words for maximum pun effect, you'll find plenty to appreciate in APICO. The music of the game is relaxing. If you're looking for a rote game that allows you to turn off the majority of your brain while focusing on grinding and simple aesthetics, APICO is the game for you.
One feature I did not particularly like is how small player inventory is. Constantly having to go back and store stuff so I could have more room to gather was terribly limiting and at times, interrupted my gameplay. There is the option to add packs to the inventory and put things into them like one might do pockets. However, the items inside the packs must be pulled out if you plan to use them with any crafting equipment, which can become tedious to do over and over again.
What's more is that APICO offers you the chance to #SaveTheBees by purchasing the game, as the developers will be donating a portion of the money made while playing towards bee, beekeeping, and wild bee conservation charities. They also offer a list of Bee conservation charities and advice on how you can help out on the APICO webpage for anyone looking to contribute further.
APICO is an addictive grindy game for relaxing after a long day of doing too much thinking. However, if you are not into games with a lot of resource grind or don't care for bees or learning much about them, APICO will not be the game for you.