Little kids don’t often dream about going on adventures, let alone consider staying alone on an island all to themselves. But what if there were people like that out there in the world who welcome the thrill of discovering new places all by themselves and aren’t afraid of the dangers of the world? Summer in Mara tells the story of one of the bravest little girls to be found in a video game.
Raised by her non-biological grandmother, Koa is a young, energetic female forthcoming adventurer. While being left on the island alone, she’s given the challenge of taking care of herself and the island she loves so much. The game unravels her story and it’s an interesting one at that.
Summer in Mara is all about exploring the islands of Mara and traveling through its vast ocean. Players play as a young girl named Koa in a colorful paradise with many characters and tasks to complete, even if they aren’t all available at the beginning of the game. Even though there are many activities to partake in, such as farming, fishing, and mining, the game heavily focuses on quests the most.
While the prologue does a decent enough job at cracking down on some of the basic mechanics of the game, it falls short on other parts. Something as simple as swapping between tools or changing backpack is easy to miss and may even cause a delay in progression.
Exploration is the heart of Summer in Mara and there is no shortage of islands to explore. Progressing further in the game gives access to more islands and they’re paced out exceptionally well throughout the game. Its map can prove to be troublesome at first for the privileged gamer, but it ends up giving a more realistic approach to the game to appreciate the world even more.
As much energy Koa has, she is no god. She must eat and sleep similarly to any human being in order to recover energy for the next day. Koa has an energy meter that diminishes with every action she makes and the effect of exhaustion shows. The game also has a day and night cycle which has been fantastically implemented. Keeping true to its nature, there is no major punishment for failing to go to sleep when it gets late. Instead, Koa will respawn at the nearby checkpoint in the area to continue her adventure, allowing for a relaxing playstyle.
While exploring the lands of Mara, Koa is capable of foraging items and mining ore. Backpack storage is unlimited, however, the game limits each stored item to a total of 99. Gathering over the limit will cast the item into the void. This isn’t a major concern since storage space is technically unlimited, however, it’s important to keep in mind so no time is wasted when gathering materials throughout the world.
There’s always something to do to keep the player’s interest reeled in. Characters will often give a quest which can become overwhelming and have the player going back and forth, however, it’s not as annoying as it sounds. It’s actually quite enjoyable a majority of the time, especially to those who hoard several of every material they obtain to limit round trips.
With over 300 quests to tackle and more than 25 non-playable characters to interact with, Summer in Mara offers many hours of gameplay. It’s not an impossibility of losing track of time when immersed in the determination of quest completion. Some quests aren’t always straightforward and may even raise questions concerning how to complete them.
Farming, Crafting and Island Development
Growing crops might not feel fun when compared to other farming games, but it’s an essential task when raising animals and completing certain quests in the game. It feels almost like a cheat with its guaranteed crop growing mechanic where watering is rendered as useless in place of several button-mashes. Players will also face challenges to overcome before having the ability to effectively grow large amounts of crops to harvest, making the game slightly more difficult.
It may take a while to acquire animals, especially specific kinds, however, it feels rewarding and is always exciting to discover new recruits. If that wasn’t enough, maybe petting them would be, as players can pet stray animals after feeding them in the overworld. Some may not see it as an important addition, but it’s been a popularly demanded feature lately.
Crafting is as simple as it gets in this game — learn the recipe and craft the item at the workshop. There’s no animation to please the eyes and pass the time, but mass crafting makes it less of a pain when multiple craftable items are required.
There’s no need to worry about having a bland island either. Summer in Mara gives the player a little bit of control of what goes on their island and what doesn’t. The more the game is played, the more players will be able to build or place objects on their island to brighten it up. It’s a welcomed addition to have even though it doesn’t go to the extreme.
Players can change Koa’s shirt and backpack. Throughout the game, more shirts and backpacks will become accessible and even though it’s not a wide variety, it’s still a decent amount of choices to choose from.
Music and Graphics
The soundtrack is excellent with calming music that fits the atmosphere of every environment of the game splendidly. Unfortunately, the music becomes almost nonexistent during specific parts of the game, which can irk some players because of the quietness.
Animations are top-notch and it’s not difficult to see the hard work put into the character models and artwork. The entity of the game is beautiful, although not as impressive as some of the bigger games on the Nintendo Switch, but outstanding for a game of its price tag.
The game has its fair share of bugs, however, a majority are not game-breaking. Some affect visuals but hardly bothers the player from the actual gameplay itself. As the game is still new, future updates to fix these bugs will likely be in order.
Summer in Mara is a visually beautiful and relaxing game that focuses heavily on exploration and quest completion with farming and other daily activities to accompany it. It suffers from proper guidance in some areas and its back and forth gameplay can sometimes get tiring, although not likely to the point where it gets irritating. It’s definitely worth picking up for its price tag and will surely occupy players for many hours.
Summer in Mara gets an 8/10.