It's hard to find entertaining games that cater to children, teens, and adults. At E3, I found two great upcoming indie titles that you could hand to your kid and allow them to have a good time. But for adults looking for a unique, light stealth experience or a relaxing game to unwind with, you can look no further than El Hijo and Bee Simulator. At E3, I got some hands-on time with El Hijo, a self-proclaimed non-violent stealth game, and I watched a demo of Bee Simlator, a game that aims to educate players on the life of a bee.
El HijoEl Hijo is a self-described non-violent stealth game. This is a refreshing spin on the typical stealth formula. Usually, these games are bloody, gritty gorefests with over-the-top executions. El Hijo does something different. You play as a 6-year-old child who is on a journey to find his mother. At the beginning of the game he is taken to a monastery, but he soon finds out these monks are not the pious individuals they appear to be. This is where my demo begins, as I attempt to escape this high-up monastery nestled on a mountain.
Stealth is very simple in El Hijo. The dark shadows mean you cannot be seen by the monks in the monastery. Stray into the light and they'll chase you down faster than you can run. Getting caught means game over, so you simply need to stick to the shadows and avoid the sight of the monks. Levels are cleverly crafted in this sprawling monastery. As it turns out, El Hijo plays like a puzzle game as much as it is a stealth title.
Solutions to get past the monks are quite clear as you progress, making it a game that is easy to pickup and play regardless of skill level. You can hide along these low, rectangular walls containing plants to hide yourself when shadows aren't present. You can hide in curtains hanging before windows and wait for a monk to pass before you skitter along to the lower levels of the monastery.
Be sure to watch patrol patterns of the monks! Thankfully, they're translated well in the gameplay and shouldn't be an insurmountable task for even novice players. It's all straightforward stuff, but it was simple and just fun. You can throw rocks to distract sentries and, in some areas, there seemed to be multiple paths and directions to get to the same goal.
I think the most impressive aspect of El Hijo was the art direction, which is a vibrant and cartoonish style full of color. I'm a sucker for stealth games, and it's far from the most complex game in the genre, but I anticipate that El Hijo will be fun for all skill levels and ages.
Bee SimulatorBee Simulator isn't getting too much buzz, but its gameplay and premise look as sweet as honey. It's an educational title with arcade elements of gameplay. It's less so a simulator in this regard, but you play as a bee doing bee things, so it's an apt title nonetheless.
Developers Varsav Game Studios worked with actual bee keepers during Bee Simulator's development. It was the product of a lot of research, and you'll notice many bee-related facts during loading screens. As for the gameplay, it looks quite fun. You get to zoom around a wide open area and collect pollen by flying through hoops. If you want some extra speed, you can activate your totally-not-scientific "beetro" ability, which is like car nitrous for bees.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Bee Simulator is that it features a story. It's voice-acted, and the bees do speak English (and other translations are available as well). But, from what I saw during the hands-on demo, our hive becomes threatened and we'll go on a journey to save it.
Speaking of the hive, it's a gorgeous game to look at. The hive is not scientifically accurate I am told, since a regular hive is much more cramped and confined in real life. Instead, it's a wide cavern filled with honey and honeycombs, buzzing with the life of bees. The park area I looked at was quite expansive as well, but I can't say that the human models were very good. The brush, flowers, and grass of the park were fine at least, where it really counts. The music is composed by Mikołaj Stroiński, a composer for The Witcher series, which is a definite selling point. Later on in the game, you can customize your bee with different skins and such, which is a nice little touch.
There is combat in Bee Simulator to some extent, but you can't sting people and it's extremely non-violent. We encounter a wasp during the demo, and an arcade-like mini-game ensues where you can do actions such as attacking and guarding.
I'm told the game can be played by 5-year-olds and completed by 7-year-olds. There are two difficulty levels, one catering to children and much easier and another that is more challenging and is for adults. I can't say that I'm the target audience for Bee Simulator, but it looks like a unique little game that celebrates the undeniable importance of the bee.
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