PEGBRJE: Starlight Shores and Hive Time

Mate, even I can tell what’s going on here, and I’m certified clueless.

Starlight Shores is a visual novel created by TidalBlossoms, an indie dev and spearhead of the team Delphinium Interactive. Players will be following the weekend of Will, who was contacted by his childhood friend Theo after she won a weekend getaway to the town of Seaside. Coincidentally, it is also the protagonist’s birthday! Time to spend it in summer bliss, while meeting Theo’s new roommate and dealing with Alec’s antics.

As one can expect, Starlight Shores follows the typical visual novel approach of setting up the protagonist as the focal point of the story’s relationships as the player will interact with the four individuals staying in the cottage. As mentioned, Theo is the player’s childhood friend who they haven’t seen for a few months, but graciously invited them out to the resort to meet her roommate and spend the weekend. This roommate in question is Lena, a colourful character who seemingly matches up with the protagonist’s personality so much that Theo calls them ‘practically the same person’. Arriving late is the player’s roommate in Alec, who has some obvious tension between the player for seemingly unknown reasons (for now), and it doesn’t make it better that he has brought his new girlfriend Eirika along for the trip uninvited. While navigating the plot, making decisions will push the player towards certain endings depending on who is favoured, with the obvious subtext that some of them may be looking to become more than acquainted. I found there was a healthy mixture of blatantly obvious decisions as to who was favoured with some that seemed just vague enough that the intentions of any answer would feel sincere, and still gave a surprise. It doesn’t hide its intentions for the player and where the directions of the game will go, but does have some tender moments about reacquaintance and the difficulty that comes with long distances friendships.

I won’t say that Starlight Shores will blow anyone away, but I appreciate good art when I see it and the characters are so lovingly soft and visually appealing. It wants players to become interested in its characters while recognizing the awkwardness that comes with the many unexpected scenarios we would find ourselves in from uninvited guests to meeting new people. The endings are varied enough, and there are 16 CGs for players to discover as the game goes on so see if you can find out how to acquire all of them (but I stick with the childhood friend, I’m a sucker for that trope). If you love simple relaxing stories of seaside awkwardness, this might be just the thing for you.

GROW MY HIVE, GROW.

Hive Time is a colony management simulator created by Cheeseness, a solo indie developer based out of Australia in collaboration with Mim and audio by Peter Silk (correction: the soundtrack was done by Peter, everything else audio related was done by Cheeseness). Players will be experiencing the joy of running a bee colony as the Queen Bee, constantly organizing the production of all things bee related and defending the hive from the dangers of the world — which is everything.

Utilizing one of the greatest shapes known to man, the bees of Hive Time create hexagonal honeycomb out of wax to expand their colony and fill in the necessary equipment to produce all of the goods. Nectar and pollen are collected from bees exiting the colony and traversing the outside world, returning with the goods and storing them in certain combs as designated by the player. Certain specialty bees can be produced once a nursery is created, which has beesitters watch over the young grubs as they grow up and become worker bees to create upgrades, standard bees for general jobs, forager bees to explore, defender bees to protect and beesitters to grow more. These beesitters are crucial, however, as each one the player has increases the spawning time of the next bee, and if one recalls; bees only have an average lifespan of 90 seconds, and it goes by in a flash. To make things even more interesting, the nurseries don’t actually set what each bee will become, instead giving a percentile possibility of what each bee can be. This means players can set the population to beesitters only to regain possibly lost bees, but will need to watch and even the percentile out or else they’ll have no bees to do anything else.

If this sounds like a lot, that is to be somewhat expected; Hive Time isn’t just a management sim, but an educational management sim. All of these actions able to be recalled within the beepedia, which is accompanied by a real life fun fact about bees that correlate to the function itself. The game knows it cannot faithfully recreate everything about how bees exist — they don’t have existential crises or use sweet machinery — but it can give a rudimentary understanding of what these gameplay functions are and how they would work in the real world. It’s a nice touch as the player deals with wasps and bears, knowing full well that the bees wouldn’t know that the wasps are angsty, but it’s fun to imagine.

The sheer number of things to explore and do is staggering as players move towards their goal, such as the accumulation of a metric load of Jelly like in mine. There can be some lull points when waiting for resources to reaccumulate, as it is with all management simulations, but it’s pretty easy to find something to do while waiting like customizing some of the special bees with funny traffic cones. Truly, this is a game of science and very accurate. If you too wish to play this totally scientifically accurate bee game, try it out and see for yourself how easy it is to get sucked in to the life and times of bees.

Oh and the buzzing in the background? Actual bees from Australia. Neat.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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