Summer in Mara Review – Test

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style
Summer In Mara Review – Test –
relaxed Survival Adenture in Anime Style

Relaxed survival adventure with anime graphics in tropical atmosphere, suitable for children but not childish, all information in this Summer in Mara Review

In this article, I’ll show you all the information & some gameplay of Summer in Mara, which will be released on June 16th 2020, on Steam for PC, on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. In Summer in Mara, we play the little girl Koa, who lives alone on her own beautiful Caribbean island. We are self-sufficient and live from farming and crafting, but many inhabitants of the other islands need our help in this anime adventure.

German Version:

This article is available here as text, but also as a YouTube video (German voice-over, many subtitles). This way you can choose how you would like to enjoy it most.

Video:

German voice-over, many subtitles

Summer in Mara Review – Intro

Hi there, it’s the Zap. This post is about a game from a slightly different area than I usually show. I introduce you to the game Summer in Mara. A very peaceful and relaxing story adventure game, which has a cute anime charm and is fun to play. It contains light survival elements and a lot of farming and crafting.

I show you in detail what the game is about, how it is played, how good it is technically, if and who will probably enjoy it and in the end, there is a rating from me. But most of all I want to give you all the information you need so that you can judge for yourself if the game could be something for you.

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 01 Background - Hintergrund
Summer In Mara Review – Background

Background

Summer in Mara is being developed by Chibig Studios from Spain, who have previously successfully developed games with titles like Deiland, Ankora, and Tiny Planet. So the studio is not completely inexperienced.

But since the studio is publishing the game completely in their own distribution, I would classify Summer in Mara as an indie title. It will be released on June 16th 2020, for Windows PC on Steam, for Playstation PS4, Xbox One, and for Nintendo Switch. This test is based on the PC version, but it will be largely applicable to all platforms, there may be slight differences in the technology.

I have received a free test sample from the developer. But I always try to play all the games as if I had paid for them myself, so this should not have any influence on my rating.

Game type – What is Summer in Mara and how does it play?

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 02 Game Type - Spiel Typ
Summer In Mara Test – Game Type

We are the little girl Koa, who is a foundling found by an older lady named Yaya and raised on a very small and lonely Caribbean island. Koa is more like a human, while her surrogate grandmother belongs to a fish-man race. As often in anime stories, the boundaries between humans and animals are rather fluid and fabulous.

In a short tutorial, Yaya explains to us some basic things that make sure that we get to know our little island and that we don’t starve. Farming, irrigation, fertilizing, how wells and fields work are explained as well as picking fruit, cutting down trees and planting new ones, mining ores or how to get fuel for the ship from the mysterious fountain on the island. Also, first hints about special places like a locked gate and two statues of guards on the mountain are given, but there is no more detailed information about this at the beginning.

We control our little Koa in a third-person view, we can walk, run, jump, and swim. With different tools, which we have to make ourselves, we can chop wood, cultivate fields, pound stones, catch fish, and mine ores. We can interact with many things, for example, we can shake a fruit tree to make the oranges fall down or we can draw water from a well with a bucket to water the plants in the fields.

Later we get our own boat, with which we can leave the island at any time. There are other bigger and smaller islands, towns, and settlements in the surroundings. There live other fish people and other creatures, like cat people or shellfish. We can talk to them, take orders, and get things done. Little by little, an imaginative story unfolds, in which we might find out who we really are, what the portal on our home island is all about, and what our foster mother has become.

Gameplay Story and Characters

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 03 Story und Characters - Geschichte und Charaktere
Summer In Mara Review – Story and Characters

The story of Summer in Mara unfolds slowly. In the beginning, many things are left unclear on purpose. In the tutorial, as an outstanding example, we are supervised and taught by our substitute grandmother Yaya. Then the game plays a cut, and in dream sequences, some events are only roughly hinted at. After that Yaya is no longer there and the boat, with which she always went out to sea, lies broken on the beach.

What happened to her, we’ll not know at all. It’s also unclear what our past is all about, what the visions in the cutscenes mean, and what purpose the gate on the island and the guards serve.

Therefrom an exciting and interwoven story develops bit by bit, which is partly told in the missions and partly in rendered video films. There are also many small stories, from the thieving cat-woman who wants to become a pirate and therefore steals and buries things, or from the young cook who helps his uncle to build up a kind of food truck on the beach and wants our support.

We get to know many new people and almost everyone of them hides little secrets from us. This world challenges us to research, explore and let our curiosity run free. I like this way of playing, telling stories slowly and bit by bit.

The dialogues are often kept very simple. Voice output is limited to sounds like “Mhhh”, “Aha”, or other sounds that people make between words. This is probably partly due to the low budget for voice-overs, but it fits for all languages and the game still plays with a special atmosphere. Especially since the sounds are underlaid with really well-drawn pictures of the speaking characters, which transport and emphasize the emotions in the conversation.

Crafting and Farming

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 04 Crafting and Farming - Herstellen, Sammeln und Ernten
Summer In Mara Review – Test – Crafting and Farming

Summer in Mara is not only an adventure game but also a very special crafting and farming game with slight survival elements. You have to eat, drink and sleep and our character Koa is actually a total self-sufficient person. In addition, she also needs all kinds of things for the story and the side quests, which you can’t get anywhere else, except she makes them herself.

On our own island some orange trees grow in the beginning, we inherited some carrot seeds and find blackberry bushes. Then we learn to make food and drink from them, we build our own tools like hoe, axe, fishing rod, hammer, cut down trees and mine ores and stones.

I found it especially nice that the game tells you right at the beginning that you should pay attention to the nature that keeps us alive. Because before the first tree is harvested, Yaya first explains how to plant a new one and that it is important to create a balance in nature.

This way Koa learns overtime to produce more and more complex tools, useful things, and food. Everywhere in the world, you can find new fruits and vegetables, and later on, we can build our own chicken coop or herd and feed sheep and pigs.

Gameplay World

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 05 The World - Welt Design und Inseln
Summer In Mara Review – The World Design

The map of Summer in Mara is a Caribbean island world. You start with a small south-sea island, which belongs to us all alone. We explore the world with our small ship, collect flotsam from the sea whilst on the sea and sail from island to island.

First Koa visits the neighboring island Qälis, where there is a small town and later we discover many more islands around it, which are mostly smaller. In Qälis there are numerous NPCs who have different tasks for us. Some of them can be fulfilled there, but for some of them, we have to make things at home or discover and explore other islands first.

The world map is enlarged bit by bit. At first, Koa has a small boat that can only go to directly neighboring islands. With further progress in the main quest, improvements to the boat will be unlocked, and then we can gradually explore more of the world. All in all there seem to be more than 30 individual island maps, which can be explored bit by bit and which also bring along completely different graphic settings.

Tech, Graphics, Sound

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 06 Tech, Graphics, GFX, Sound - Technik, Grafik, Musik
Summer In Mara Test – Tech, Graphics, GFX, Sound

For developing Summer in Mara the Unity Engine is used. And accordingly, most of the teething troubles are not present due to the solid foundation. The game plays stable, in more than 30 hours I didn’t have a single crash. Also otherwise the number of real technical errors on the PC is very low. Here Chibig did a good job.

The graphics and textures are not super high resolution but create a very atmospheric atmosphere. There are isolated popups of grass and other details, but I didn’t find that particularly disturbing though.

The fact that the graphic is only in the upper-middle-class range probably has another reason. Because first of all, all things in the game are programmed and designed in a way that they should be usable 1:1 on the consoles and also on the switch. Then there are no adjustment possibilities to raise any graphic details or other options to a better level, even if you should have the best hardware.

Here Summer in Mara gives away some potential. With better resolutions, sharper textures and other PC-typical adjustments the game would be even better, I think.

The menu design is also only partially optimized for the PC. With many controls, you notice the focus on Gamepad or JoyCon and some submenus are hard to reach or find. In general Summer in Mara has some slight to medium weaknesses in the menu design. Overall, the game could use more explanations, tooltips, operating aids and comfort functions in almost all areas. User interface design is probably not one of the strengths of Chibig Studios so far.

For example, the sales menu at the dealer is hidden behind a button that doesn’t even look like a button. Some inventory lists have mouse wheel scrolling, others do not. And the handling of the menus is not explained very well. It’s a game in which you are supposed to explore, I understand that. But why basic game functions are not clearly labeled and why exploring is also extended to the handling and user interface is a mystery to me.

In addition to the poor labeling and explanation, there is also a partially bad translation of the existing button texts. If a radio is labeled “Touch” instead of “Turn on” or if you get the message “Press W to descend” while diving, but the correct button is actually Shift and not W. Then we slowly get into the area of frustrating and annoying when it comes to controls. Especially mean, when each dive attempt costs 40 gold because the diving goggles wear out and only last a few seconds and you have to go back to another island to buy new diving goggles, not to mention the gold that is wasted.

The sound of Summer in Mara is on a medium level overall. On the one hand, it offers some nice background tracks, it always has suitable sounds, and acoustically the world is mostly well filled. On the other side are the many dialogues, which have no sound except “Ahh”, “Uhh”, “Mhhh”, “Ohhh”.

But you have to admit that this is an indie title and voice-overs, especially in different languages, are very expensive to produce. And then the solution with the conversational sounds, which are suitable for all languages, is still better than having no sounds at all in the dialogues.

Talking about multiple languages, the translation of the story is very well done, at least as far as the German language is concerned. All dialogues are translated in high quality, only very few spelling mistakes and from the understanding point of view, there was never a problem. All the more annoying that the menus and the controls were not translated with this high quality work, because there are some things that are really wrong. And the many letters and quotations in the message in a bottle texts have remained completely in foreign languages, which is poorly executed.

Summer in Mara Gameplay Screenshots

Click or tap into the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges

Opinion and Conclusion

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 07 Opinion and Conclusion - Meinung und Fazit
Summer In Mara Test – Opinion and Conclusion

A lot of criticism was already in the last chapter, I don’t want to repeat it all now. Just a short summary. The game could be much better if it had more tutorials, a better translation, and a better UI design and the PC-typical options menus.

There are generally too few tutorials and explanations. Of course exploring the world and game features is a part of the game, but especially for features like the map, the inventory, basic functions like fishing or diving and some other game features more detailed help and maybe a gentler introduction would be more pleasant at the beginning.

Here the developers partly probably assume too much that you either know the predecessor games or they have problems to get into the heads of new players who really start the game for the first time. But if you have overcome these entry hurdles without being discouraged by them, you get more and more into the attraction of the beautifully designed and varied world and can dive into the story.

Because the graphic style of Summer in Mara is very pleasant and pretty. The game has a very artistic approach and creates a world to sink into. It has a consistently positive and nice story, it radiates a lot of cheerfulness and you can feel and understand the childlike basic trust and the open-minded curious attitude of the main character again and again.

The main story is very nice. It contains some twists and surprises. The quests are very often “Bring me this and that”-orders. But this is bearable because you have to make these things by yourself and then you have to search and find the materials, recipes, or other things first somewhere. All in all, it is quite diversified.

As a very positive highlight, I would like to emphasize that Summer in Mara does not use any fights or violence at all. The game is suitable for children of all ages from front to back. It has received a USK rating of 6 (ESRB 7+), but I don’t know where to find things that shouldn’t be suitable for smaller children as long as they can either read or have parents around to help them with the texts.

And Summer in Mara is suitable for children through and through, without being a game just for children. I’m a male, mid-40s, but I still had fun in Summer in Mara. And I can well introduce you to the fact that this game is suitable for single adults as well as for children, and even more so as a family-friendly joint activity.

Then I also found the balance between farming, crafting and history very pleasant. There are always enough of these three game elements, and I never had the feeling that it swings too much in one direction or the other. Here the developers have really shown a deft hand and connected all parts of the game well.

And on top of that, I remember the quest menu as a very successful highlight. Because there you can find all kinds of game characters at any time and there are hints if an NPC currently has a quest, maybe gets one later, and what you should do to get ahead. It is not intrusive so that one does not feel pushed by it. But you never feel helpless because you can’t find where to go from there. This game feature is well done, this way of implementing a quest menu is something that some quest-based games might like to play.

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style 08b Rating with Numbers - Wertung mit Zahlen
Summer In Mara Review – Rating with Number

Rating

This brings us to the overall standings. Summer, sun, sunshine, and a straight and positive story. Summer in Mara offers an interesting story in a pleasant and beautiful world. The farming and crafting parts of the game are well thought out and both are fun and it also fits well into the game. After more than 30 hours of gameplay, the end of the story is still a long way off, so the scope and overall gameplay are really neat.

For this, I would like to assign a base score of 85%. For the somewhat fiddly controls, the not really good tutorials and the menus which have room for improvement I deduct 5% from this score and for partly wrong or missing translations in the menus and letters, I deduct another 3%.

This brings me to a final score of 77% at the time of release. But I assume that many of the critical points that led to the point deduction can be improved by some patching work in the future, so there’s a good chance that Summer in Mara will slip over the 80% limit again.

Summer in Mara

Zap von ZapZockt.de

Summer In Mara Review - Test - relaxed Survival Adenture im Anime Style
Relaxed survival adventure with anime graphics in a tropical atmosphere, suitable for children but not childish, all information in the summer in Mara Review
In this article, I’ll show you all the information & gameplay of Summer in Mara, which will be released on June 16th 2020, on Steam for PC, on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. In Summer in Mara, we play the little Koa, who lives alone on her own beautiful Caribbean island. We are self-sufficient and live from farming and crafting, but many inhabitants of the other islands need our help in this anime adventure.
Grafik
Sound
Steuerung
Survival, Farming und Crafting
Story
Welt Design
Umfang

Bewertung

This brings us to the overall standings. Summer, sun, sunshine, and a straight and positive story. Summer in Mara offers an interesting story in a pleasant and beautiful world. The farming and crafting parts of the game are well thought out and both are fun and it also fits well into the game. After more than 30 hours of gameplay, the end of the story is still a long way off, so the scope and overall gameplay are really neat.
For this, I would like to assign a base score of 85%. For the somewhat fiddly controls, the not really good tutorials, and the menus which have room for improvement I deduct 5% from this score, and for partly wrong or missing translations in the menus and letters, I deduct another 3%.
This brings me to a final score of 77% at the time of release. But I assume that many of the critical points that led to the point deduction can be improved by some patching work in the future, so there’s a good chance that Summer in Mara will slip over the 80% limit again.
.

3.8

Outro

Do you feel in the mood for a positive adventure like Summer in Mara? I think we could use something positive like that, especially in the confusing and complicated year 2020. Or do you prefer to beat up zombies and want to play games with fights, weapons, and dark settings? Please write to me your opinion in the comments below.

Thumbs up and subscribing do not make you poorer but the life of a creator more beautiful. More gaming news, game reviews and Tips&Tricks can be found on zapzockt.de and then I wish you a great day, have a good time, ciao ciao, your Zap.

Summer in Mara Website:
https://chibig.com/summer-in-mara/

Dev Twitter:
https://twitter.com/chibigstudio

Dev Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/chibigstudio/

Reading – recommendations:

A lot of detailed games news and information about games and gaming can always be found here at ZapZockt.de

There are also many game reviews that might interest you, and if you don’t want to miss anything, subscribe to the newsletter. As a Google News reader, you can also go there and read the latest articles.

Shopping – Tip:

Advertising / Affiliate Link
Games can often be bought cheaper. You can do this legally, reliably, and safely at my partner site Gamesplanet. This game, all DLCs, many more RPG, tactic, and strategy games, or a lot of titles from other genres are available there and almost always much cheaper than at Steam, Uplay, Epic, or other shops.

Buy steam keys cheap - Game keys
Buy games cheap

For every purchase, via this link, I receive a small commission. So you get games cheaper and at the same time support my work, my thanks in advance for that.

Social Media:


Zap

Dirk "Zap" von ZapZockt.de, 40+ Gamer, zockt seit 1980 vor allem Strategie Titel, MMOs und Rollenspiele. Schreibt Game Reviews, Gaming News und auch mal über Technik, Hardware und YouTube. Mehr Infos findest Du unter Mehr über Zap lesen ◄----------► Dirk "Zap" from ZapZockt.de, 40+ gamer, has been gaming since 1980, mainly strategy titles, MMOs and RPGs. Writes game reviews, gaming news and also sometimes about technology, hardware and YouTube. Click here, if you want to read more about Zap.

You may also like...

scroll to top - nach oben