Summer in Mara is a single-player adventure and farming simulator on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch developed and published by Chibig. You play as a young care-free and adventurous girl known as Koa who lives on a remote island with her Yaya Haku (grandmother). In Mara, the name of the archipelago you reside in, you can craft, farm, and visit other islands of the archipelago while completing quests for the many residents, making friends, and creating and fostering bonds.
You begin the game on your own island and experience the loving relationship Koa and Yaya Haku have with one another. The beginning moments of the game act as a tutorial with Yaya Haku sending you on errands around your home island. I instantly got Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon vibes when I started the crafting portion of the tutorial. As you progress, you get a feel of what you’ll be doing and how the game is played. However, what the tutorial fails to mention or teach you, is which buttons do what and what certain icons mean. For the first few moments of the game, it was trial and error. The options menu is barebones, only allowing you to change the language of the game and adjust the volume of the sound effects and music. Furthermore, there is not a manual save option, the game just periodically autosaves.
Adventuring in Summer in Mara can be quite tedious. While you’re waiting for crops to mature, you find yourself making multiple trips between your home islands and the other islands of Mara. While controlling Koa and exploring the world of Mara in 3D, conversations are held in 2D as the characters converse with one another. Residents will have you fetch items but also send you home to craft requested items. Sometimes when a quest required me to grow something and there was nothing else to do, I forwarded the game by sleeping the number of days until the crops were ready. Luckily, resting refills your energy meter, which allows you to run and prepare crops.
Preparing crops is easy. You use a hoe to prepare the land and then you plant your seeds. There is a number that appears over individual crops indicating how many days until they mature. You can further speed up the growth process by using water from a well. Watering crops subtracts one day off and can only be watered once a day. However, be careful using the well. You only have three uses with the well and have to wait until it rains for it to be replenished.
Quests can build up pretty fast in Mara but the great thing is some will lock up until you continue Koa’s main quests. The requests are pretty straight forward but certain times I had to wait until I unlocked the ability to craft other items. One downside about quests is that they don’t update or note where items can be found. Nor does the game have a waypoint system. I found myself wandering at times until I saw a floating arrow indicating a point of interest.
Summer in Mara may have its flaws but it can be overlooked by how beautiful the game looks and how peaceful the game’s soundtrack is. Each character is unique and well crafted, you can tell each one was created with the utmost care. It’s also a bonus that each character has their own personality. You’ll fall in love with characters and enjoy the interactions between them and Koa. You won’t help but get lost in completing quests for the delightful citizens of Mara.
Summer in Mara is available on Steam and Nintendo Switch on June 16th.
Summer in Mara
- Rating - 8/108/10
Summer in Mara may have its flaws but it can be overlooked by how beautiful the game looks and how peaceful the game’s soundtrack is. Each character is unique and well crafted, you can tell each one was created with the utmost care. It’s also a bonus that each character has their own personality. You’ll fall in love with characters and enjoy the interactions between them and Koa.