App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Look, as much as I want to evaluate games on their merits alone, sometimes the price point for a game really tips the scales one way or another as to whether its worth engaging with. It sounds dumb, but so is the whole system that kind of forces us to think that way about things. Speaking of systems, that's what Beecarbonizeis all about. This real-time card game that tasks you with preventing a climate crisis is enjoyable for what it is, which is a surprisingly polished (though easy) game you can play completely for free.
Bee the solution
The only game I've played that resembles Beecarbonize's gameplay is Cultist Simulator. Instead of manipulating a game board that representes your quest to unleash unspeakable horrors on the world, you are in charge of managing resources to steer industry, ecosystems, people, and science to a sustainable future while being careful to manage your emission output and avert disasters.
All of this management occurs in real time, though there are buttons to pause the action (or speed it up). Resources get generated automatically by the four sectors, but you decide how to build out each of those sectors to maintain balance while working your way toward building a "golden" card, which represents a win state for the game and suggesting a viable path to real-world climate crisis management.
Adapt or die
For the bulk of a playthrough of Beecarbonize, you are simply waiting for timers to fill and add to a currency pool, which you can then choose to spend on a variety of things. Most often, you'll likely use your currency to create new cards under a particular sector. These new cards often speed up the production timer for the sector, but often have other effects attached to them. Some may increase or reduce your emission production over time, open pathways to creating new cards, or have some immediate effect once built.
As you build cards, you'll also need to expand your sectors to make space for this infrastructure to live. Otherwise, your investments might die or crumble. While all of this is happening, you also have to make sure you're holding on to currency that you can use to mitigate disasters, which appear randomly on a top row of the game board. These disasters can have effects like increased emmission output, loss of resources over time, or even an instant fail state. Balancing your production of resources, controlled use of emissions, sector growth, and disaster management are key to doing well in Beecarbonize and create a surprisingly dynamic experience even though there is so much down time in a play session.
Saving the world is easy beezy
I failed to prevent a climate disaster in my first go at Beecarbonize, but then was able to very quickly win the game outright from there. There is a little learning curve to the game, but I mostly lost that first try because all of its systems aren't fully explained. I'm fine with experimentation and--as became pretty evident after my first playthrough--there's not a ton to figure out in this game.
I'm mostly fine with Beecarbonize's relative lack of challenge, too. There's still some amount of satisfaction to be had in discovering cards and charting the game's idea of what progress in solving the climate crisis looks like, particularly since you don't have to pay or watch ads or anything to do so. My only gripe in the lack of challenge really is that it inherenltly suggests that getting carbon neutral and saving our planet is much easier than it actually is.
The bottom line
Beecarbonize is a fun little game, but mostly because it is free. If it put up any monetary barrier to access what it has to offer, I'm not sure it would be nearly as satisfying. It may have a somewhat overly simplistic view of the problem it chooses to be built around as well, but again that's also somewhat easy to look past due to the combination of its production quality and price tag.