Summer in Mara | Nintendo Switch Review.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021


Publisher: Chibig
Developer: Chibig
Nintendo Switch Review

I was so good at holding off playing this but gave in eventually, my love for chill games have been taking over recently but I can't be mad about that! Summer in Mara is based around a young girl found at sea by Yaya who has taken her in and raised her as her own. She has taught her the ways of the island they live on and how to grow  forage and survive. One day Yaya disappears and and Koa is left on her own, although she's sad she tries to hide it and make the most of her situation, there is a shrine Koa can visit to pay her respects to the woman who raised her along with flowers that Koa can picked that end up being very useful in the game.

Upon starting the game there is a mini tutorial to get through, I knew what to do as I had played the Demo a few weeks before purchasing the game, there was no real indication on how to swap tools or craft etc you work that out for yourself, the tutorial is more of a guide on tasks to complete for Yaya and once she disappears for good you're left on your own to figure out how the game mechanics work. There is a lot to do in order for Koa to leave the island and reach other islands for supplies, I felt for Koa not only was she made an orphan for the second time she now has to learn how to craft and cook food. We learn early on she's never really cooked before and it's still very new to her but once she gets the hang of things she finds joy I'm creating food.

Koa wants to follow in Yaya's footsteps but it's not easy especially when Yaya has protected Koa since she found her and adopted her, her life has been very strict as she was never allowed to leave the island to go on supply runs with Yaya but Koa slowly learns the ropes. One day whilst tending to the island Koa comes across a strange sea creature who she eventually befriends, they help one another navigate the seas to find islands for supplies and answers, this little creature is called Napopo and looks like a mythical sea creature whose head is shaped like a seashell who happens to be my favourite character throughout the whole game, Napopo lives deep under sea and there is not much known about her race which doesn't seem to have a name and is unknown to everyone in the game. 


In order to travel in game you need to stock up on fuel from the guardians door, this powers your boat, the amount of fuel you can collect when you're low or run out in endless which is handy as you will be making a LOT of trips back to your island as it's the only place you can craft and grow supplies, to grown more crops you need to clear any debris in your way, in order to do this you have to upgrade your tools which will unlock the more you progress in game. I stocked up on seeds and planted them as soon as I could to avoid having to constantly go back to my island, I would also collect any fruits or misc items I found around my island/other islands to sell and turn a profit because money is a big must have throughout the game. 


Most of the game takes place either takes place on Koa's home island or on Q√§lis, most of the residents reside there or visit there to make supply runs but all together including them islands there are 33 places to visit which you unlock the further out to sea you travel, the further you travel the quicker you run out of fuel but the developers have added guardian fountains on several other islands that Koa can use freely to refuel. Upgrading your boat helps speed it up so you won't have to refuel as much as you when the boat was slower. The controls are basic and easy to grasp there is nothing really that you need to know as there is a button layout map in the menu for you to look at, I prefered playing the game with my Nintendo Switch docked and seeing it on a bigger screen than handheld. 

The annoying thing? Not having the right supplies for quests and the only way to find them is by looking at guides online, I searched high and low for supplies but in the process I made new friends and unlocked new quests, side quests tie in with main quests so in order to progress you will need to complete them otherwise you're met with a wall and unable to progress any further. Going back and forth does get repetitive but it's all part of island life and forces you to gather what you need if not more to travel onwards to your next destination with the supplies. 


Although the game looks childish on the outside I would say it's for more of a adult audience, there is a message behind the game where you need to remember that when you cut something down to eat, use etc you must replace it, this is the way Mara works which is basically the way of the world anyways, we can't expect there to be growth once we cut down all the trees and harvest all the supplies can we? They need to be replanted in place of what we have used. The game as a whole dragged on a lot more than it could have due to waiting for crops to grow and travelling back to Koa's island all the time yet I thoroughly enjoyed the island life and meeting new residents along the way, it never ruined the game for me.

The most appealing part of Summer in Mara has to be the bright and gorgeous graphics along with the characters personalities and looks, each with their own struggle and back story some of which I liked and some that annoyed me and made me sick and tired of having to go back and forth helping them but I did it all to help Koa. The atmosphere of the game gave me Studio Ghibli vibes, in Ni No Kuni 2 there is an island called Hydropolis and the whole game is very reminiscent of that island for me which is a good thing as it was one of my favourite islands to visit in Ni No Kuni 2. Since finishing Summer in Mara the Chibig have released Stories in Mara that tie in with each other, I will hopefully be playing through and finishing Stories of Mara and letting you all know what I think of it!


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