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Summer In Mara

Posted by GG Goblin On June - 22 - 2020

Island hopping and farming sounds kind of idyllic at this time.

Spending time on an island while talking with the residents and collecting resources is something that many Switch players will have spent obscene amounts of time doing in the past few months. Nintendo’s own Animal Crossing game has filled the time of many Switch owners. However, Chibig’s recently released Summer in Mara offers an alternative island, or group of islands, to explore for those who want something different. Combining farming and adventure across multiple islands, Summer in Mara offers the kind of wholesome, relaxed experience that screams of hot summer afternoons. But is there any point to the whole experience?


Summer in Mara certainly makes an impression when the game first starts up. The animated cut scenes are absolutely stunning, and then the game as a whole presents a beautiful visual style that players could see themselves getting lost in. Combined with a really nice soundtrack, the setting is really inviting. There are a few quirks, such as the lack of movement from the NPCs that leaves the player feeling as though the world only exists when Koa, the playable character, is around. Despite this though, there is very little to complain about when it comes to the visuals and sound.

I would love to say that the rest of Summer in Mara was equally as well done, but the actual gameplay is much simpler and, as a result, far less interesting. There is a story in Summer of Mara, and it begins with baby Koa being rescued from the sea by an old lady and then being brought up on the island. From there, the young Koa has a relatively peaceful life on the island, but before long something will happen that will make Koa leave and start exploring the other islands in the game. Some introductory missions will give the player the briefest of information about how to play the game, although it doesn’t take much to work things out.

The player will be involved in two different styles of gameplay here. Firstly, there is the exploration and the missions. This is where the player will have to find a certain NPC and then have a chat, only to find that to get what they need they will have to go and find something for that character first. There are a number of different islands in the game world, and the player will be able to find different things on each of the islands, including NPCs. Travelling between the islands involves hopping in Koa;s little boat and setting sail for a short time. Some of the islands are locked behind progression, and so the player will be limited to where they explore, at least in the early game.


The problem here comes with the fact that the missions are pretty much all busy work. They are mostly fetch quests, which are never very interesting to start with, and much of the mission content does feel like it has been put in to extend the length of the game. Another issue is that there is very little by way of direction, and when the player is told to talk to a particular NPC, they won’t know where to find them. There is a lot of running, or sailing, back and forth in the game, which can be a little frustrating.

The other side of the game is all about the farming and crafting. Throw in a little fishing, and that alone would be plenty to keep many players busy. There is a day and night cycle and players can spend their time growing crops and keeping animals, doing a spot of fishing and maybe gathering the resources to craft one thing or another. It is all quite calming and enjoyable, but the lack of any risk does take a lot of the fun out of it. For example, seeds will take differing times to grow, and watering them will speed that up. Not watering them, however, doesn’t kill the plant, but just means it takes longer. As the player can go to sleep and advance time, there is no real benefit to watering the plants. Koa has a stamina bar which depletes as the player does things. Eating some food will replenish the bar, but letting it run too low will result in Koa passing out. Even this offers no real threat as Koa will just wake up with a small amount of stamina and can then sleep properly or eat to build it back up again. While I am all for relaxing experiences, but some kind of fail state, even just a wilted flower, keeps things interesting.

Summer in Mara is not short of interesting things to do though. Koa’s home on the starting island becomes the base of sorts from which to venture out, and also the place to return to for farming or crafting. There are quite a few different characters to talk to, and they will be in different places at different times. There are also hundreds of quests which, while not especially exciting, will keep players busy. Planting seeds, fishing, crafting and cooking, there is no shortage of distractions. The player can even put new buildings down on their home island, although they all have set positions so the player can’t design their home however they wish. Summer in Mara cannot be criticised for the amount of content.


Undeniably charming and good looking, Summer in Mara comes up short in the gameplay. The game has a simplicity and laid back vibe that suggests a younger audience, but then some design choices and lack of direction would leave young Switch gamers frustrated. Aside from the visuals, everything else in the game has been done better in other games. With that said, on a chilled summer afternoon Summer in Mara wouldn’t be a bad way to spend some time.




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