British summers aren’t really summers. They’re really just precious, all-to-brief moments where it’s not quite as cold and rainy as it is normally and both humanity and bug life makes the most of it. Our barbecues rarely go as planned, either; our good intentions, high spirits and sheer determination to cook a delicious plate of meat are often foiled by bad weather and nosy insects. That’s what Bee Bee Q simulates so well.
This multiplayer Rift and Vive game, being developed part-time by Popup Asylum, is all about replicating the glory of the Great British barbecue, bringing the defiant elements and bad tempers with it. And the team’s come up with some pretty intriguing mechanics in the process of making it.
The headset wearer is the cook, suitably overweight and pasty-faced, on a mission to turn a platter of raw meat into an edible feast. Getting in his way are the other players, who use gamepads to control bees that will attempt to steal the food.
As the cook, you’ll need to ladle heaps of burgers and sausages onto the barbecue and then defend them with your utensils as they cook. Bees will zoom in in squadrons, and they can either try to haul the food away straight away or go in for the kill and sting you, causing your vision to go dark for a few seconds.
With multiple players, Bee Bee Q has hints of a brilliantly frantic party game. I couldn’t stop myself from occasionally shrieking as a bee hovered in front of me, threatening to either sting me or take a dive at my food. Knocking bees away only buys you a few moments’ rest as does squashing them against surfaces, so you’re constantly on edge. Food cooks at an agonizingly slow speed and it’s all too easy to let your opponents get the better of you and start making a mess. It’s such a solid concept that I’m surprised we haven’t seen anyone else try it yet.
The magic of VR here is in the slight sting (pun intended) in awareness you’ll feel whenever you hear a bee buzzing around you. It gives you the exact same sudden, unwelcome uneasiness you’ll get when the real thing occurs. I couldn’t help but wave my controllers around in panic as yellow and black blurs circled around me. Even watching the trailer above I feel a slight tingle down my spine just looking at them.
It’s possible for both sides to win, but Popup Asylum is also finding that lots of players take great joy in ditching the cooking and just swatting away their friends, so they’ve come up with a deathmatch mode too, which could be a lot of fun.
Popup Asylum is hoping to get the game ready for summer, and may work on a PSVR version after it launched on Rift and Vive.