After playing a lot of FPS (first-person shooter) games, RPGs or strategy games, at some point, your mind starts tiring and demands some rest or any game that doesn’t consume so many reflexes of yours. That’s where game genres like Adventure, Crafting, Simulator lie. From the same genres, the game I would be reviewing is called Summer in Mara. The game is a joint development of Chibig Studios and Evolve PR. It released on the 16th of June 2020. The game was planned to be multi-platform, but the developers only released it for Nintendo Switch and PC now as other systems await its launch. It would launch on Xbox and PS4 soon. Summer in Mara is priced at almost $25.
The game was under development from almost 2018. Chibig Studios from Spain had started working on this project since then. After getting immense support from a Kickstarter started in 2019, however, the developer decided to release the game at last. Tracking a game from that far does create a lot of suspense along with spiked expectations. The idea of farming, crafting, and roaming numerous islands in an archipelago setting took my interest immediately. Alien looking inhabitants with a kid hero are what made me wonder and decided to dig deep into game details.
At the start of the game, you would come across a story of Koa. Koa was a little girl who was found by Yaya in a burning ship. Yaya rescued her and brought her back to her home on Home Island. Gameplays don’t start that way, but when it starts for this one, you would find this girl sitting on the rooftop of the house, looking onto the sea. You would guide Koa to get down from the roof, so she mightn’t get herself hurt. But Koa can care for herself easily.
The initial gameplay in Summer in Mara isn’t very much interesting as Yaya Haku teaches Koa to get hold of things for some time. Yaya teaches her how to craft new items, use a specific set of tools, and do fishing. On the backend, it isn’t Koa who is learning but you are being told about the controls. If you are an experienced gamer, you would easily get hold of many controls but some need to be taken care of. The method for watering the plants and fields may disturb you as you have only one well, which is very quick at drying. In case there is no rain for some time, your well would dry and you would have to make another than, unfortunately. The most important button on the switch, ZR, would help Koa sprint when held.
The basic start of the game is instruction and guidance. One thing that would disturb you is the lack of subtitles or written instruction as Yaya teaches Koa by speaking. The reason for this is that when the actual gameplay starts, some new controls add to the game and due to a large range of combinations, you certainly would confuse yourselves in remembering them.
When the game genuinely starts, we find Koa alone without Yaya’s presence. She is left on her own to deal with things. Koa is standing on the shore, watching the sea at night with light emerging from it. This scene, for me, was glitched as I found Koa levitating above the sea. Along with Napopo, who is a game character too, you would venture a lot on your boat.
Summer in Mara isn’t only a visual thing running on you Nintendo screens, it has a theme to it. The game portrays the behavior that how helping someone will indeed help you too. Yaya also left Koa for this reason so that she can find this message for herself. It is a good way to convey something to the gaming community. Chibig and Evolve PR haven’t created an imaginary world from lines of code, but it has its resemblances to the actual one. Each character is so detailed that you would certainly feel the person’s character and story on meeting them for the first time in-game. If I take Banker Edegan’s example, his character is displayed very clearly. He is a graduate in economics and business management, and this provides a sense of proudness as he thinks no one can be better at it than he is! And yes! You can amazingly feel this in his dialogues and tone. Koa discovers a lot of islands in Mara after Qalis. As her exploration expands, she brings back new stuff for her beloved Home Island back. New animals, new architectural structures, and variety in crop types are most of what you would find.
From the graphical perspective, the game is fantastic too. Vibrant and detailed colors of the characters and the town can be observed instantly. One thing, that I added before also is that they should add some animations for some processes. Traveling to another island should be visually represented rather than a screen appearing and disappearing as Koa reaches her destination. If added, it would add to more fun. As for gameplay, some issues with the controls exist. The absence of written controls is a huge lack. Shortcuts should be preferred for displaying further menus under + button of quests and map etc. You may get confused about the controls sometimes as there are many of them. The start should be made more interesting as Yaya teaching Koa may make you yawn sometimes. There are also some bug related issues with the boat and pier. As for the audio direction, the game developers did a mesmerizing job. Outstanding soundtracks by a small company, that’s huge! Theme music is punchy and does give you a feel if you are to play something amazing. Other sounds are spot-on.
This game teaches us that it’s not all about completing missions and finding objectives. Some are there to make you smile and relieve you from the worldly distress. Making things better for Koa makes the people happy and her island more beautiful and this message, if implemented in the real world will resolve half of its issues. Discovery and exploration are quite an adventure too and learning about different character stories and lives provide an essence of the real world. Repairing some bugs and adding some improvements would bring it to a new level.