Summer in Mara Review
Summer in Mara is a single-player summer adventure. Take care of your own island, farming the land, and crafting new tools to survive. You can also sail away with your boat to new islands, meet unique characters and find hidden treasures. But the ocean wants you to fulfill your destiny and when it calls you, you’ll have to answer.
Summer in Mara is a game about small details that will surprise you every time.
- Summer in Mara is an adventure and farming game, with an archipelago full of islands and secrets to explore.
- Day and night cycle with climate events.
- More than 100 quests to make the world a better place.
- Over 20 characters to meet and trade with. Befriend them!
- Improve your boat, make it bigger, better, and faster.
- More than 130 inventory items to make, use, and trade.
- Unlock and acquire new abilities and skills for Koa, helping her to craft, trade, and explore in an easy-RPG system.
Overall Summer in Mara is a unique blend of different types of games we have all played over the years. Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon-like in the way you build relationships and farm and craft, Animal Crossing in the way the weather changes, you have your own island to design and build, Wind-Waker in the way you sail the oceans to further expand your gameplay. In theory, sounds like a great blend, but does it execute on what it promises?
The first time I saw Summer in Mara I believe it was on a Nintendo Direct or Indie Showcase of some sort, it definitely caught my eye with its art style and freedom of gameplay. Plus at the time I was hot off of Stardew Valley and was itching for something to fill that Harvest Moon-like craving. So I was excited to check this one out.
The game starts off with some beautiful music and cut scenes to set the story, then quickly jumps into a tutorial-Esque beginning to teach you the basics of farming, chopping wood, fishing, etc. Really setting the stage of what the core mechanics of the game is about. Shortly thereafter the story takes a turn and you are left on your own and have to venture out in the world. As you sail and find other locations you are greeted by unique places with a generally fun cast of characters to help out, complete tasks for, sell items, craft new ones, etc etc all along your journey.
After spending a little bit of time outside of your island, unfortunately, is where this game takes a bit of a turn. Unfortunately, if you strip everything else away, this game is just one giant fetch quest. I need this, grow that, take it to this guy. The whole game is just a go from point a to point b with very little substance. By the time I reached the end of the game, I was wondering where the rest of the game was. There in fact is very little freedom and choice in this game which is a little disappointing. In reality, the game really holds your hand throughout the entire experience.
The characters in the game are though, a lot of fun. Very unique and colorful and often have a personality that really stands out so it helps make the fetching at least on the surface feel a little different. The art style is beautiful as well and really is well done overall. The game has some great moments especially in cutscenes that almost makes it feel like watching an animation vs playing a game. The music is also very well done and lends more to the overall environment and atmosphere of the game.
The game really held my interest for the first 5 hours or so, exploring, gathering resources, completing quests, etc. Unfortunately, after that, it really became more of a chore to even play the game because of the awful gameplay loop. I can appreciate what the game does and it might be a GREAT starter game for little ones getting into the RPG farming genre or for people who aren’t really into gaming but want to try something. Just given my experience and all of the other types of games out there like this (Story of Seasons, Stardew, Etc) Summer in Mara felt more like Summer School in Mara than a grand adventure.