Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure is the latest 3D flying experience from EpiXR Games; prolific developers looking to create a buzz. They’re well versed in this genre after churning out numerous Aery titles and a couple of Life of Fly instalments. The idea for Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure is to deliver a similarly relaxing, narrative-driven exploration adventure, but involving a bee instead.
So, is this new venture the bee’s knees, or in the end is it not all it’s cracked up to bee?
In Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure, is a little bee that’s rather disoriented by its current surroundings within an educational building. Thus the journey begins for it to find a new home, one much more befitting for this creature. Aside from a very short poem before each area traversed, each of which varies in quality, you’re not getting anything else as far as a narrative is concerned. And that feels a bit strange for a self-proclaimed story-driven game to be honest.
The gameplay revolves around a constantly moving bee which you must safely navigate through the ten levels present. Collecting knowledge shards is the main objective and as the bee flies into one, another will spawn. These shards work almost as a guided tour within each area and only upon gathering them all will you be able to advance to the next place. It’s very straightforward, hence should ensure a relaxing experience to be had. That’s not the case however, for numerous reasons.
The bee itself is stupendously slow, to the point where you’re unsure if it’s actually moving anywhere. While there is an energy bar providing a speed boost when activated, it soon drains and then the only option to refill it is to go out of your way to find energy potions. Doing so is rather counter-productive as it forcibly adds to the length of the journey and the whole limited boost is more of a detractor than a good idea.
Worse than that though is the visual presentation of certain levels being a hindrance. This is especially true on the opening level, where everything is exceedingly bright, making it difficult to spot the shards. Seeing as the environments are fairly large, searching the entirety of one because the placement of a shard is obscured is painstakingly tough to endure. It’s particularly difficult to focus or relax with random screen flickering and flashing on some levels that would give Battling Seizure Robots a run for its money. Even without those bizarre issues, you’ll suffer in certain themed areas that use an autumnal or summery colour palette due to the similarly coloured shards blending in.
Conversely, the dark and grim levels are perfect for spotting the shining shards, but these are rare. Sadly, they’re not blessed with the most interesting surroundings to look at either as the already minimalistic art style is a tad concealed by nightfall. You can just make out the spider-filled environment, which is the only fantastical setting amongst a selection of bland levels featuring suburban households, a farm, a city, and a desert. Anyone familiar with the Aery games might well recognise a handful of reused areas too.
On a positive note, there are optional collectibles to locate in the form of ten golden flowers per level. The flowers are definitely off the beaten path, which means scouring the lands thoroughly. Whether you want to prolong the pain by partaking in the bonus activity is debatable, but in isolation it’s a key factor in the potential for any replayability in Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure.
Surely, the soundtrack is something you can rely on to create a relaxing atmosphere, right? Well, yes, there are several looping tracks that are non-intrusive and are best described as melancholic. My sole complaint is how there’s a severe disconnect between the tone of the music and the mood of each level. It’s like they’re completely separate entities plonked together.
Ultimately then, Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure fails in delivering a worthwhile and chilled out exploration experience. It’s very similar to EpiXR Games’ other titles, albeit with a plethora of issues which negate any possibility of relaxing. There’s actual replayability in this offering, unlike the rest, but an initial playthrough is hard enough to sit through, so mopping up the golden flowers is a tough ask.
Don’t bother with Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure, for it’ll be as painful as a bee sting.
Bumblebee – Little Bee Adventure can be purchased via the Xbox Store