LifeisXbox’s APICO review | I am always looking to add some relaxing games to my collection. Naturally, when I first heard about a little game called APICO, my interest was piqued. Developed by TNgineers and published by Whitetorn Games (by whom I’ve played plenty of games that I absolutely loved like Wytchwood, Lake, and Teacup), APICO is a relaxing beekeeping sim about breeding, collecting, & conserving bees! More than being a relaxing game, it’s actually quite educational as well, albeit not entirely. On top of that, the developers want to promote bee conservation with their game, so they are actually donating a part of the profits towards (inter)national bee conservation charities. What’s not to love?
ℹ️ Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Beekeeping | At the heart of APICO, there is beekeeping. Many bees have gone extinct or are threatened, so it’s up to you to restore the bee population in APICO. The game starts pretty easy with some bees that can be found on the main island, but soon you’ll be knee-deep in cross-breeding to bring back bees that have gone extinct. With 30 species to rediscover, you are surely in for a ride. It may sound easy but the whole breeding process is far from simple. Each bee has genetic traits that will impact new hybrids. You’ll be using all kinds of tools to help you with this process, including a predictor to predict the potential offspring of a queen, and a microscope to identify bee traits. By creating new species that you can release into the wild, you can make a species status go from ‘Lost’ to ‘Thriving’.
- Crafting activities | The breeding and conservation of bees isn’t the only thing that will keep you busy in APICO. If you are in need of anything, you’ll be crafting it yourself. Cutting wood, mining rocks, picking flowers, … you’ll definitely know what to do at any time of the day or night (unless you choose to sleep, of course). Materials are needed to create all kinds of things: general items (e.g. sawbenches, crates, glue), tool items (e.g. tree taps, pickaxes, hammers), beekeeping items (e.g.hives, apiaries, extractors), decorations (e.g. floorings, walls, lamps), and painting items (e.g. brushes, dye stations, dyes). Crafting items and products will not only be useful for beekeeping but also for making money (which is called Rubees in-game). Money isn’t easy to earn but is very much needed. You can sell products by bees, or even make Apicola and sell it for a good profit to the NPCs.
- Charming art | If you’ve played Stardew Valley before, the art style of APICO is going to look very familiar, since both use similar pixelated graphics. Personally, I’m a huge fan of this art style so as is often the case, this is what first attracted me to APICO (together with the bee theme of the game). Now, APICO itself is quite lively and vibrant when it comes to its colors, but everything also looks a bit the same. There are four different biomes to discover, but I do feel like a bit more variety could’ve been added. Still, I very much enjoyed the beautiful world of APICO so I’m not really complaining. When it comes to character design, it’s again simple but good. You can pick your character’s hair color (and style), as well as the color of their skin, overalls, and undershirt. The NPCs also have their own distinct look (and their pronouns are added next to their name, which I thought was a nice gesture).
- Tutorial quests | At the start of the game, you get Grandpa’s Guide, which is basically a book filled with quests teaching you all about the game. With no less than 43 quests to complete, you are guaranteed to learn about the ins and outs of playing APICO. As you progress in the game, new chapters will be unlocked. Each chapter introduces something new and gives you challenges. If you complete said challenge, you get a handy reward. Maybe ‘challenge’ isn’t the right word, as you basically get a lot of information and mostly have to craft something. For some, it might be a lot of reading, but I actually found this way of providing a tutorial so much fun. I felt like I had a goal to reach and it really helped me understand everything that was going on in the game (which was a lot, to be honest).
- Humor included | We love a game that has humor in it and APICO is filled with bee-puns. The first page of the guide already gives you a ‘freebee’ which is basically your first bee. Then this bee is names Beeatrice, how fitting. The naming thing was a constant throughout the game, by the way, with names such as Abbee, Beelia, Bobbee, and Beerix. The game is filled with ridiculous and lame puns and phrases, and I absolutely loved it.
- Not as relaxing as you’d think | Even though APICO may be sold like a relaxing, laid-back beekeeping game, this isn’t fully how I experienced it. As I mentioned, there is a lot to do in this game. And thus a lot to learn. This can be quite overwhelming at first, and even though you get the hang of things eventually, I still found myself in a not-so-laid-back state of mind. My best relaxing experience is probably with games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons or Cozy Grove. I just didn’t really feel the relaxation feeling that much in APICO because I was worried about the bees, about making money, about all the possibilities, … So just keep in mind that, even though the game is incredibly fun, it may not be relaxing.
- Don’t get attached | Now, what I like about Stardew Valley, is the interactions with the people in town. So when I started realizing that none of that would be present in APICO, I was a bit disappointed. The NPCs don’t really have that much depth so forming relations isn’t part of the game. I definitely get that the developers didn’t put more effort into this, as the focus of the game is clearly beekeeping. And APICO already has so much going for it and has so much going on, but I still missed a more personal connection with the other people. Luckily, there is a multiplayer option if you really want to connect with people, albeit not the NPCs.
What we Disliked
- Might be more suitable for PC | I only played APICO on the Nintendo Switch, but also looked at the Steam page. I noticed that on the PC version of this game, you can have multiple screens/tools open at once, which is not possible on the Switch port. Since I have no personal experience with playing APICO on PC, I cannot paint a perfect picture, but it does feel like the multiple tools at once function is pretty neat. I fully understand that this is not very possible on a small Nintendo Switch screen, so maybe that’s some extra points for the PC version. Still, not going to lie: it’s still a great transfer to the Switch and is very well suited for this console.
How long to beat the story | TBD
How long to achieve 1000G | There are no achievements on the Nintendo Switch.
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂