Summer in Mara (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 28.10.2020

Review for Summer in Mara on Nintendo Switch

From the very first trailer, Summer in Mara by Chibig was clearly an attractive life simulation game. Taking on the role of Koa, who lives with her grandmother and then due to an incident is on her own, players get to sail far and wide across the sea, solving the mysteries of Koa's life and Mara's secrets. The beautifully styled graphics with charming and emotional cutscenes add impact to the themes of friendship and grief that are explored in the game. Koa must farm both crops and animals on her home island as well as explore all those nearby to find out the truth behind the presence of aliens and discover what it means to love and respect Mara.

From the start, Koa is taught by her grandmother that nature - Mara - must be respected at all times. When taking fruit from trees, planting new ones is a demonstration of respect. There are spirits who Koa can leave offerings for, although it is unclear what happens as a result of doing this in the game. The introductory section could have used a more detailed tutorial, further explaining how to move around; this reviewer didn't work out how to run until many hours into the game, which led to using jumping as a faster mode of transport than walking. There was a patch that added a lot of improvements and fixed a few bugs present at launch: this included fast travel around the islands once they had been visited at least once. This patch was provided after the reviewer completed the game, so their benefits have not been tested. Unless a gamer finds sailing dull, it is advisable to sail at sea because that's how new animals are found for the island, how items can be gathered, and how some quests are discovered.

Screenshot for Summer in Mara on Nintendo Switch

The farming mechanic is a fun one. Seeds are planted and have to be watered for faster growth. Watering involves using a bucket from a well which needs rain to refill it once the water is used up. The crops do seem to grow when not actively watered by the player. Growing a variety of crops is necessary to fulfil the many side quests in the game. Often the main story only progressed if certain quests were fulfilled. Frequently they were finding an item(s) for a person, crafting it or growing it. There is a lot of back and forth between Koa's main island and other islands that may not appeal to all players, but felt rewarding when quest completion brightened a character's day. Koa is the only human: her grandmother wasn't human, and all the people in the world of Mara belong to different species. The cutest is Koa's constant companion, Napopo, who appeared after her grandmother had to leave. It was confirmed by the developers that sadly, Napopo is not Koa's grandmother reincarnated, and that her grandmother's death was deliberately not dwelt upon to make the game suitable for all. There are sweet touches like the small shrine to remember her grandmother where Koa looks sad for a moment upon interacting with it.

Screenshot for Summer in Mara on Nintendo Switch

Thanks to Napopo and all the friends Koa makes, Koa is never truly alone. On her island she eventually has several animals who produce an item that proves useful in crafting and quests. The animals don't necessarily produce the items you'd expect from them; sheep do not produce wool! The animals need to be fed specific food to help them grow, and once fed, they visibly change size in front of Koa. None die from malnourishment, so it is possible to retain lambs and piglets on Koa's farm without negative consequences; their cuteness adds to the appeal of the farm. Not all of Koa's acquaintances are the friendly type. Some merely tolerate her presence, but in their own way, they seem to like her well enough to aid her if doing so will further their own interests.

Screenshot for Summer in Mara on Nintendo Switch

Being able to sail around from island to island is a delight to do. The boat does not move automatically, the player has to steer it towards the destination, and colliding with boxes is necessary to gain extra materials and farm animals. Although, just how random pigs/sheep/chickens get into a lone crate in the middle of a giant sea is a mystery that isn't solved by the game's dramatic ending. There is an environmental theme to the game, such as how negatively pollution can affect a world, and how kindness and perseverance with stubborn people can bring its own reward. There's a distinct spiritual side which made the life of Mara seem more realistic. Despite various disagreements, there is eventually a sense of community which is all down to Koa being herself, at times rude and ignorant but always full of energy and enthusiasm.

Screenshot for Summer in Mara on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Although there were a few faults and issues in the game, none are game breaking, and updates have removed some faults and added quality of life improvements. Anyone who likes mostly calm games involving lots of quests and some farming will enjoy being Koa in Summer in Mara. With multiple backpack designs and clothes to collect through quests, and finding all the crabs with messages from early game supporters, there is plenty to do in Mara before the game ends, and afterwards too. There aren't extra quests post game, but fulfilling all the quests is satisfying in itself, and the varying environments with some items to harvest are memorable enough to return to for fun.

Developer

Chibig

Publisher

Chibig

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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