Review – Summer in Mara

A colourful dart, which misses the mark

Thanks to the folks at Chibig Games, I’ve spent a few days looking over the new Nintendo Switch release Summer in Mara. This is a colourful second job, expanding over the seas and islands of Mara. As ever, find the full video here or deep reading for the extended review.

The Basics

Summer in Mara was a title kickstarted last year, nearly instantly reaching its goal, and surpassing it by over 900%. It’s a title which will feel familiar for anybody who’s spent time with titles such as Animal Crossing or Yonder. You’ll spend your time tending farm, and exploring the islands scattered through Mara, following a winding and adventurous narrative

Parent’s Eye View

Summer in Mara is rated by PEGI at 7 and above, and by the ESRB at Everybody 10+. The only thing to watch out for in this title is a small amount of fantasy violence. Overall there’s nothing which is really worrisome for the younger generation, and the title is not only suitable but well suited to family friendly fun.

There could be some confusion due to a lack of clarity with mission objectives, as even I have had a few issues in remembering what I’ve needed to do at certain times. Mission objectives listed may give an overall goal, but often miss out on telling you what you need to be doing at that time. Due to this they may need some pointers, but overall the content itself poses no worries.

The introductory video is truly beautiful

The Run Down

Visuals – Fair: The cut scenes within Summer in Mara are absolutely stunning. Akin to being drawn into a Ghibli film, the clips here are an absolute pleasure to look at. In game however, it feels like there’s something missing. Grass textures move like rotating cardboard cutouts, and while swimming the water makes no moves as you wade through. Overall the visuals are fair, with some positives and some negatives.

Audio – Good: The musical score for Summer in Mara is genuinely outstanding, and I’ve really enjoyed the different tunes around the various islands. There are a few times where I’ve found a jarring move between musical scenes, and it could have benefited greatly from a little voice acting.

Narrative – Good: I really enjoyed the story here, and a winding narrative winds its way throughout your time. There is a strange disjoint however following the initial starting scene, where the island appears to have been abandoned for years with no explanation. This does get filled in as you move forward in the game, but at the time, had me restart the game as I thought I’d missed some vital plot points.

Replay – Lacking: The replay value on this one I feel has fallen short. This could have been improved with further backstory and collectables, and more fluid construction options around the farm where options are quite limited.

In game visuals are bold and colourful, but could do with more polish

Overall the Pixel Bandits Island Levell for Summer in Mara is Approach With Caution. The title has a number of benefits and drawbacks, and while I’ve enjoyed some of the elements there are others which have pulled me out of the title.

The content here makes this a great title for younger members of the family. However the lack of direction at times meant that even I was unsure of mission goals. In addition to this the story, while good overall, does disconnect from itself slightly early on and can leave you puzzled.

The title is expansive, and inclusive, and that’s brilliant. There are a number of great life lessons in there, and I generally enjoy a good second job simulator. Overall, however it does have some challenges which have damaged immersion for me. Having to wait for rain to fill a well in order to water crops, being unable to climb out of water, story gaps and some lack of texture in the visuals have unfortunately let this title down.

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