You know, when playing through a game, sometimes it can be quite obvious that the passion is there. It’s just a feeling that you get while playing that makes you feel that the people behind the game truly cared about making it. Sadly, passion can’t guarantee an enjoyable or fun experience. This pretty much sums up my feelings towards Brian Wilson’s Where the Bees Make Honey. Now, I know I just gave away my whole review on the game, but trust me that there are layers here.
Where the Bees Make Honey is a game developed by Wakefield Interactive and published by Whitehorn Digital with Brian Wilson at the helm of its creation. The Kickstarter calls it an “introspective narrative” game, which I would respond saying “it’s like The Stanley Parable meets Captain Toad Treasure Tracker… sort of”. The story follows a recent-adult named Sunny who, while trapped after hours at a job she hates, starts to reflect on her childhood and the adventures her imagination would take her on. As such, the bulk of the game takes places in Sunny’s memories.
While I usually like games that take place within the self and revolve around something personal, I will always place gameplay above storytelling. The game is split into two main scenarios: One where you control child Sunny around an isometric puzzle level where the player must lead her to collect all of the honeycomb coins and another where the player explores a specific memory that have their own layout and feel based on the associated emotions. Throughout both types of gameplay, Sunny’s narration is there to provide context for what the player is seeing.
I appreciate the amount of creativity and heart that went into trying to explore the storm of emotions that comes from nostalgia and looking back on simpler times, but the execution was lacking. For the honeycomb segments, while the areas are contained, I found it surprisingly difficult to determine exactly what I could and could not do. Sometimes Sunny is able to fall short distances (I’m still not certain on whether those were glitches) and other times the rotate mechanic just doesn’t work which is necessary to navigate these levels. On top of that, the presentation of the levels can be quite messy. They are contained and cube-like, but the arrangement of the colours and shapes makes them confusing so you lose track of your position almost too easily.
The unique memory sections are my favourite parts of the game because they try to be different every time. Sometimes you’re child Sunny, other times you’re a bunny or even a toy monster truck. Yet, despite how expansive these memory-worlds can be, they are surprisingly tricky to traverse. Most of them are built around exploration and going from start to finish, but the way the vehicles and creatures are controlled causes them to slide all over the place making it hard to perform jumps and build momentum when needed. I wish more time was spent perfecting these controls because I feel my appreciation for the symbolism behind each memory was overshadowed by my frustration in just trying to get through it.
On a brighter note, the game is aesthetically pleasing and easy-listening. The visuals are simple, but clean and colourful. Most of the scenery is nice to look at and the accompanying sounds helped to create a serene atmosphere. I really do respect and admire the heart that went into this game so I challenge Brian Wilson and friends to try again. Don’t explore “Where the Bees…” but instead “How the Bees… Can be better.”
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Where the Bees Make Honey Review
Gameplay - 0/10
Graphics - 1/10
Sound - 1/10
Replay Value - 0/10
I really do respect and admire the heart that went into this game so I challenge Brian Wilson and friends to try again. Don’t explore “Where the Bees…” but instead “How the Bees… Can be better.”