Developer Dialogue: No Place for Bravery Interview @ PAX Online

Developer Dialogue: No Place for Bravery Interview @ PAX Online

There were plenty of unique and exciting games at PAX Online this year. One that stood out to me the most was No Place for Bravery, an action RPG from developer Glitch Factory with gory, fast-paced combat. 

I had the opportunity to interview some of the developers behind No Place for Bravery, as well as a member of the publisher, Ysbryd Games. Joining me for the interview were Jacob Burgess, Director of Operations at Ysbryd Games, Pedro Machado, Game Designer and Producer at Glitch Factory, and Matheus “Matt” Queiroz, Producer and Director of Operations at Glitch Factory. 

 

“I had a chance to sit down with the demo for No Place for Bravery. The brutal combat in the game seems to be the main focus. Can you tell us about the combat system and why you decided to go this route?” 

Pedro: “Since the beginning of the project, we wanted to make a grittier RPG. We’ve been developing this game for several years, now; almost five, actually. Since the start, we wanted to make an RPG that was a little less romanticized. This combat style just fits our core concept for the game. We wanted it to be challenging, to make the player work for his achievements and to complete the game. The demo is a little difficult, but we are looking to make the game more accessible. That’s something we’re still working on. We want the game to reach broader audiences. We think the game has more to offer than just its difficulty.”

Jacob: “But we’re still making sure to keep the challenge for the folks that want it to be brutally difficult. We wanna make sure we accommodate the players that came for that, along with a really good story and incredible art, music, and message.” 

No Place for Bravery Interview

“In No Place for Bravery, you play as a warrior named Thorn. What can you tell us about him and the world he lives in?”

Pedro: “The game deals with some very personal themes for us. The story is very important. The game tells the story of Thorn, who’s a war veteran who goes out on a quest to find his daughter. He goes on a journey in this weird and fantastic but, at the same time, low-fantasy world.”

Jacob: “It’s like a low magic, high-fantasy world.” 

“What makes this game an RPG? Is it a more minimal take on the genre?”

Pedro: “We are actually really inspired by great classic, action, so-called RPG games like Zelda, Dark Souls. It is an RPG, but it’s not very number-focused. The player won’t have to crunch numbers to make more optimal builds. That’s not what we’re going for. The game deals more with mechanical skill; the player will have to know their enemies, learn their patterns, and get good.”

No Place for Bravery Interview

“What can players expect from this game from a narrative standpoint? Is it more traditional and in your face, or is it more subtle and mainly told through the environment?”

Pedro: “You touched on a very important part of the game’s narrative, which is environmental storytelling. We are paying a lot of attention to details. Every space you find yourself in, every level, has a purpose to being there. We’re going for both a mix of traditional storytelling in games and also environmental storytelling.”

Matt: “This opportunity at PAX, it’s a work in progress, the narrative. The feedback that we’re going to receive from the community is going to be a great input in this matter.”

Jacob: “One of the things, as the publishing partner, that I love about Glitch Factory is how much they’re willing to tinker and iterate and adjust to make sure that the game is the best that it can be. And to your point on narrative, everything in the game is married to each other, it’s difficult to look at the narrative without looking at the gameplay, without also looking at the environmental storytelling. They’re all intrinsically linked in this story that Glitch Factory is trying to tell.” 

“What were some of the inspirations that led to the creation of No Place for Bravery?”

Pedro: “One of the first pitches we had for the game was kind of like an RPG created by Coen brothers, you know, the movie directors? Hence the name, No Place for Bravery – the title was inspired by No Country for Old Men. I love the Coen brothers; they are a huge inspiration for me, personally.”

Matt: “There’s also a bit of Shadow of the Colossus. How the game portrays the narrative, it’s a mix of multiple things. Dark Souls and Sekiro were also huge reference points for some of the gameplay.”

“Tell me about the music in this game. The demo had some really amazing tracks in it that are really unique. Who composed the soundtrack, and will it be available at release?”

Pedro: “It was made by our friend, Edward Zohoft. He’s, like, awesome and a great composer. Everyone is really excited; everyone who played the demo or watched the trailer is very excited about the soundtrack. I gotta say, having heard almost all the music for the game, I can say it gets even better. I love his work.”

Jacob: “Yeah, he’s really good at matching environment to tone, and yeah, it’s just great. The soundtrack will be available when the game releases.”

“Is there anything else you think players would like to know about No Place for Bravery?”

Jacob: “We’re looking for a 2021 release. We haven’t given any more specific information than that. Ysbryd games, we want to give our devs the freedom to make the best games that they wanna make because that’s what being a good partner is. So, we’re aiming for 2021, but we have complete faith that Glitch Factory is gonna put out the best damn thing that they possibly can. We’re gonna release on Steam and Switch, which are the only ones we have announced at this point. We hope folks are going to really enjoy it.”

Pedro: “It’s a very personal experience for us, so there is a little bit of every one of us in this game. The story is directly inspired by some of our teammates’ life [stories]. We’re not just trying to make a rad action RPG, this is our life put into a game. So it’s very emotional and very important for us.”

Matt: “I mean, we’re in love with what we’re doing. Expect a lot, but this is our first major release. It’s the first big project from Glitch Factory, and we’re very excited to see how the launch goes. 

Jacob: “Every release feels like a major release.”

Matt and Pedro: “Yeah,” (both laugh). 

 

That’s it for the interview. You can check out the communities for Ysbryd Games here and Glitch Factory here. No Place for Bravery can be wishlisted on its official Steam page

Steve and Alex From Minecraft Join Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Steve and Alex From Minecraft Join Super Smash Bros Ultimate

October has hit the ground running with this morning’s announcement that the latest downloadable characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are… Steve and Alex from Minecraft! Nintendo have repeatedly smashed expectations with regards to Smash Ultimate DLC fighters, and today’s announcement continues their friendly relationship with Microsoft. A typically lively promotional video showed Mario’s misadventures in the pixelated Minecraft world, followed by Masahiro Sakurai joking about how difficult it was to implement these characters in Smash! It is indeed a remarkable feat seeing the pixel art inherent to Minecraft coexisting with Smash mechanics.

The attention paid to preserving Minecraft‘s appeal and reconciling it with the Smash Ultimate model expands beyond character design. There will also a full-on Minecraft themed stage, paying direct tribute to the game’s distinct visual palette. Crafting-based fighting techniques also mark uncharted territory for Smash Ultimate, and yet again show the effort invested in Smash Ultimate‘s longevity. As with past DLC packs, the imminent Minecraft challenger pack can be purchased for $5.99 giving you the characters, a new stage, and seven Minecraft music tracks. Fans can also gain access to all Smash Ultimate DLC characters future and past by purchasing the Fighter’s Pass for $30.

Masahiro Sakurai himself will be showing off Steve and Alex in Smash Ultimate on 10/3 at 10:30 AM ET, unfolding right before Minecraft Live. This event is also when the DLC’s release date will be announced. No matter how much of a labor it was to implement these characters into Smash, the fact that fans immediately lost their minds after the announcement shows that it was effort well spent. With today’s announcement, two worldwide phenomenons have united and who knows the limits of their power. The announcement might have even broken Twitter this morning.

 

 

Watch the Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase Tomorrow

Watch the Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase Tomorrow

Nintendo just announced another Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase, which will place on September 17, 2020, at 7 AM PST. The last Nintendo Direct Mini released in August, was only around 11-minutes long, and focused on third-party games, revealing games such as Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory and World of Tanks Blitz. What can we expect from September’s upcoming showcase?

 

Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyTJI2otQ7I

Based on the last two Nintendo Direct Minis, the runtime for the livestream won’t be much longer than 10 minutes. The one that streamed back in July was only a total of eight minutes in length and only featured a handful of announcements. That doesn’t mean it can’t be longer (or even shorter), but that would be quite a surprise. Don’t expect to see any first-party games at tomorrow morning’s event, since the showcase will only focus on Nintendo’s publishing partners’ games. This means no Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC news or anything about the next Legend of Zelda.

We may hear something about Square Enix’s Bravely Default II, since the end of the year is approaching and it was scheduled to release in 2020. There may be some ports from games that are available on PS4 and Xbox One and potentially some new indie titles. There are only so many things Nintendo will get to in this short video, especially if they’re going to continue to make these showcases a monthly event.

What do you hope to see revealed at September’s Nintendo Direct Mini? Are your expectations too high and in need of some proper management? Are you just hoping to see Nintendo fail? Maybe your expectations are just right. We’ll offer a recap of what gets announced tomorrow if you’re not able to watch live. Until then, keep your eyes fixed on Sick Critic for all your latest game news, reviews, and features.

Kickstarter Launched for ‘There Is No Light’ Action RPG

Kickstarter Launched for ‘There Is No Light’ Action RPG

Developer Zelart has officially unveiled a new Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming Action RPG, There Is No Light. The game is described by Zelart as a “grim post-apocalyptic pixel-art action-adventure.” Here are the details for the funding campaign and what you can receive if you fund this video game project.

 

There Is No Light Kickstarter and Demo

The Kickstarter campaign is officially underway as of September 8, with a goal of $30,000 and to be funded by October 6. The projected release date for There Is No Light is August 2021 as of this writing; funded Kickstarters are known to miss their release windows, so take this date with a grain of salt. Zelart says they’re planning to bring this game to all “current and future consoles” including PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and in a variety of languages. That is without taking any stretch goals into consideration, which is impressing considering that what they’re asking for the total funding amount is not too outlandish

Some of the features for There Is No Light include a non-linear narrative, player choices, a “Rage” system, and plenty of gory pixel combat to experience. Players will fight through the Underworld in a series of visceral, disturbing areas, fighting demons and other crazy monsters while also interacting with villagers. A one to two-hour demo is available for download through Steam (no other platforms have playable demos at the moment).

You can pledge any amount towards the Kickstarter, but the lowest tier that will net you rewards begins at $19 and includes a digital version of the game, your name in the credits, some wallpapers, updates, and a backer role in the official Discord server. Higher tiers include designing your own NPC, a personal pixel portrait in-game, and even a house and pet for your NPC. The Kickstarter goes on to detail some of the diverse areas you will traverse in the game and some of the weapons and abilities you can take advantage of throughout the experience.

HypeTrain Digital will be publishing There Is No Light on both consoles and PC and will team up in porting the game to consoles specifically. We’ll be giving you an in-depth preview of the playable demo sometime this week, so keep your eyes on Sick Critic’s homepage for updates.

You can check out the spooky official Kickstarter trailer on YouTube below in the embedded video.

Nintendo Announces Super Mario 3D All Stars

Nintendo Announces Super Mario 3D All Stars

The plumber who captured our hearts 35 years ago is taking a bit of a victory lap. Nintendo made a series of sudden announcements at the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct that will no doubt please the avid fanbase. After years and years of collective pleading, we will finally be able to play Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Switch due to the imminent release of Super Mario 3D All Stars, available from September 18th to the end of March 2021. Also included in this bundle is Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, though the begging for Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Switch must persist. All three aforementioned titles will have higher resolutions than their original versions and subsequent optimization for an improved Switch experience.

 

From Super Mario Galaxy being compatible with two Joy-Con controllers (replicating the original Wiimote experience) to Super Mario Sunshine now being handheld ready, Nintendo has made a series of accommodations bringing these classic titles into a new generation. The collection even has a built-in music player allowing you to listen to all three soundtracks whenever you want! It is no doubt a lavish experience for those who love Super Mario’s earliest 3D titles, but Nintendo made sure to remind us that the Mario experience is much bigger than one collection.

 

A presentation still of Super Mario World 3D showing Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad jumping in sync!
Image courtesy of Nintendo

 

On February 21st, 2021, an enhanced version of Super Mario 3D World is finally touching down on Nintendo Switch, shortening the list of high-profile Wii U titles that are unavailable for any other console. Details about the Bowser’s Fury expansion are scarce so far, but it’ll no doubt serve as further motivation to revisit an unsung classic. One last big-time release comes in the form of Super Mario Bros. 35, which adds online multiplayer to the 35-year-old game that built an entire empire. The game launches digitally on October 1st, 2020, and is available until the end of March 2021. It is accessible through a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, which costs you $20 for a whole year and gives you access to over 80 NES & SNES titles. If all this isn’t enough for you, you can look out for a color screen Game & Watch system on November 13th and augmented reality Mario Kart on September 16th! With the sheer amount of content announced in just over fifteen minutes, it is obvious that Mario just gets better with age.

 

 

RUMOR: New Nintendo Switch Model Coming in Q1 2021

RUMOR: New Nintendo Switch Model Coming in Q1 2021

Floating rumors have indicated that Q1 2021 will see the launch of a new Nintendo Switch console. The first reports came from Economic Daily News on Monday. The description of the new Switch brings us back to 2019 when rumors suggested that Nintendo would release a new Switch console with improved graphical capabilities for players with higher gaming drives.

 

Nintendo Switch Box

 

This could be Nintendo’s way of increasing their visibility in a quarter that will be almost exclusively dedicated to familiarizing the industry with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Nintendo always has the exclusives to be a major contender, and with their new approach to third-party games in the Switch era, it’s not a bad idea to remind people that they don’t have to pay whatever Sony and Microsoft will be charging for PS5 and XSX in order to have a fully-realized gaming experience.

 

This report also falls in line with Nintendo’s behavior that trends towards making the Switch available to all types of gamers. Their release of the Switch Lite gave a more casual audience an option, their third-party AAA titles allow people on the go to take their favorite games with them, their indie support draws in those who prefer shorter and more unique experiences, etc. This could serve as an avenue down which Nintendo will try to reach those who desire more from gaming, such as more advanced graphics and faster loading times.

Shakes on a Plane Comes to PC, Switch November 12

Shakes on a Plane Comes to PC, Switch November 12

Shakes on a Plane was announced on Thursday by Assemble Entertainment, the publisher behind Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Don’t Dry. Shakes on a Plane is developed by Huu Games and is heavily inspired by Overcooked and Unrailed, taking a similar time management approach that typically translates to engaging and hilarious co-op play. The game is set to release on November 12, 2020 for Windows and Nintendo Switch.

 

In Shakes on a Plane, you and your friends are abducted from various places on the globe and forced to serve rowdy customers on a flight flying 30,000 feet in the air. “It’s got the perfect touch of humor common in many of our games, along with a compelling storyline perfect for anyone craving something more offbeat,” says Assemble Entertainment CEO Stefan Marcinek. “We’re anxious to get this into the hands of simulation fans and casual players alike!”

 

 

As a flight attendant, you’ll be required to attend to every need, whether it be fetching coffee and food, cleaning vomit, and everything in between. Do this as one of many characters who have special abilities and skills. You won’t have long to complete the tasks you need, and the passengers will have high expectations. Can you keep up with the demand?

 

To find out more, check out the game’s Steam page. For future updates, be sure to keep an eye on Assemble Entertainment’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook page, and Discord channel.

 

Shin Megami Tensei V & More in July’s Nintendo Direct Mini

Shin Megami Tensei V & More in July’s Nintendo Direct Mini

Nintendo broke their lengthy radio silence today and broadcast a new Nintendo Direct Mini, focusing on the Switch’s upcoming 3rd party games. In their announcement Tweet, Nintendo was very upfront about what to expect during this presentation – no new announcements and no new 1st party information. While the show was a brisk 8 minutes, it is worth mentioning that more Mini Directs in this style will arrive throughout the year, as promised at the start of today’s presentation.

We’ll go through the show’s highlights, but if you want to see the full Nintendo Direct Mini, here’s a link:

The Legend of Zelda: Cadence of Hyrule DLC Packs

 

Over a year after its release, The Legend of Zelda: Cadence of Hyrule is getting paid DLC, three pieces to be exact:

  • #1 Character Pack – Five new characters to groove around Hyrule as: Impa, Aria, Shadow Link, Shadow Zelda and Frederick (the enigmatic bard)
  • #2 Melody Pack – 39 songs will be added including remixed background tracks.
  • #3 Symphony of the Mask – An all-new story mode featuring Skull Kid, plus new songs and a new map to discover.

 

The first DLC pack is available for purchase later today alongside a DLC season pass, with the final piece of DLC out by October 23rd.

Cadence of Hyrule symphony of the mask

 

Rouge Company

 

Looking like a hybrid between Fortnite and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Rouge Company is a 3rd person online multiplayer shooter with cross play and cross progression. The game is out sometime this year, but more info will arrive on their website and Twitter later today.

Rouge Company Switch

 

WWE 2K Battlegrounds

 

A wrestling party game with a kooky sense of humour and local multiplayer. WWE 2K Battlegrounds will release on September 18th.

 

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne HD Remaster

 

Often considered the best game in the franchise, this is a remaster of the cult 2003 PS2 JRPG. Based on the comparison footage shown in the trailer, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into scrubbing up the game for this remaster. It’ll be out in Spring 2021.

 

Shin Megami Tensei V

 

Shin Megami Tensei V Trailer

Sneaking in right at the end was a brief, but all new trailer for Shin Megami Tensei V showing a woman in a subway being transported to a post-apocalyptic future. No real info was given about the game, minus the promise of a simultaneous worldwide release sometime in 2021.

 

That really was everything from today’s Direct. Perhaps it was a little anemic but with the promise of more smaller Nintendo Directs coming sometime in the year all we can do is sit tight.

5 Changes I want to see in Super Mario All Stars 2

5 Changes I want to see in Super Mario All Stars 2

It must be great being Mario. He can pull off the moustache look, he has oodles of friends to go go-karting with, and he’s the star of some of the most cherished platformers to grace mankind… and he’s only 35! It’s been rumoured that Nintendo plans to celebrate his 35th anniversary by launching Super Mario All-Stars 2, a remastered collection featuring Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2.

In all honesty, Nintendo could just slap quick and dirty HD ports for all these games onto the Switch and they’d sell like hot cakes. But that would be such a wasted opportunity to do something truly special with these games. Here are five things I’d like to see Nintendo do to make this collection a ‘must own’ title.

 

1. Make that Eel Scary Again

 

Mario 64 Scary Ell

 

Stay with me on this one. A key design philosophy behind creating remakes and remasters is to give returning players the impression that they’re playing the game for the first time all over again. For many people, myself included, Mario 64’s eel was their first ever piece of gaming nightmare fuel. But looking at him now, he looks like a miserable sock puppet. I want to see Nintendo make that sucker scary again. I’m talking about putting Pennywise the Clown or a Bloodborne-style horror in that dark abyss – something to make me petrified to go in the water! Remasters not only need to reintroduce classics to new generations, but also terrify another wave of first-time players.

While they’re at it, Nintendo should crank up the terror factor for that infamous chomping piano. I can see the ‘Twitch Jumpscare Compilation’ videos already.

 

2. Purple Coin Comets Are a Pain

 

Mario Galaxy Purple Coin Comet

 

Super Mario Galaxy‘s Prankster Comets get a lot of hate, but I actually welcome the challenge and variety they add to the gameplay…with the exception of the Purple Coin Prankster Comets. In Mario 64 and Sunshine, the 100 coin stars gave you the freedom to hunt for coins, rewarding player intuition and thorough investigation. Mario Galaxy‘s ‘collect these 100 coins that we’ve laid out in a breadcrumb trail for you, and don’t you dare miss a single one!’ challenges just feel like thankless busywork that frankly aren’t worth an adult’s time. Please Nintendo, just add five or ten more coins per level to afford us some leeway – having to scrub through an entire level again for that one purple coin you missed isn’t a good time.

 

3. 60fps + 360 Camera in Mario 64, Please

 

Mario 64 60fps 360 camera

 

If the PC modding community has taught us anything, it’s that Super Mario 64 plays like hot butter at 60fps. The only other thing that’d transform 64’s gameplay for the better would be a true 360-degree camera to offer the most precise and pleasurable way to play. Of course, specific scenes will still benefit from the old-school camera. The Resident Evil fixed camera angles in Big Boo’s Haunt are still delightfully unsettling, but for the most part, total camera control would be magical. Undoubtedly, there’ll still be purists out there who think 64’s OG camera system is flawless. All Nintendo has to do to please both sides is give players the option to play with whatever camera style they prefer. Gamers love options, after all…

 

4. Good Lord, Fix Mario Sunshine’s Physics

 

Super mario Sunshine Watermelon

 

After a long internal debate with myself, I came to the conclusion that Mario Sunshine’s jank and difficulty spikes are a large part of its identity. It’s undoubtedly the hardest 3D Mario game, yet collecting all 120 Shine Sprites is a real badge of honour. There is a point, however, when the game ceases to be endearing and instead becomes frustrating, and that arrives whenever Sunshine asks you to engage with its physics-based challenges.

Just the thought of having to roll that damn giant watermelon across a narrow pier again makes me want to go lie down in a dark room until I’ve calmed down. Even simple tasks like spinning a slot machine relies on the game’s God-awful physics. None of these gameplay ideas are fundamentally bad, yet in implementation, they barely function to an acceptable standard and will likely push you to the limits of your patience. Worst of all, the game culminates with the definitive low point of this plumber’s illustrious career: using FLUDD to sheepishly control a rickety boat across a sea of lava through Corona Mountain. This collection is intended to celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary. I don’t wanna play his blooper reel.

 

5. Make the Game Its Own Game

 

Mario man Cave

 

When I think about this hypothetical Super Mario All Stars 2 collection, I imagine it as its own game, not just as a glorified DVD menu. Since the hub worlds are such celebrated parts of these Mario games, a playable ‘hub menu’ of sorts could really go a long way.

Imagine controlling Mario around a small portion of Peach’s Castle as toads chaperone you between a variety of chambers. One room could function as Mario’s private gaming man cave with a CRT TV hooked up to a N64, Gamecube, and Wii. This is where you’d pick your game, all through the gleeful eyes of Mario as he picks up the relevant controller to relive (and replay) his finest adventures. Another room could house an in-game shop where the stars you collect act as currency for unlocking promotional artwork and archive trailers for these games. There could even be a hidden room that opens into a playable version of the Mario 128 tech demo! Sky’s the limit for this one!

 

Cheeky Bonus Point – Give Us Photo Mode

 

Mario Camera Mode

 

Given Nintendo’s recent love of photo modes in Super Mario Odyssey and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I can speculate, with almost certainty, that this feature will be included. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s a harmless addition that allows players to get a bit creative when they’re tired of platforming. Sunshine is even holiday-themed, so making your own postcards would suit the game’s vibe perfectly. Plus, I just really want to get some selfies with Isle Defino’s Piantas.

 

For so many people, these Mario games made up a key part of their formative gaming years. If Nintendo steps up and puts in the effort, this collection would not only be a wonderful celebration of all things Mario, it could become the definitive way to play these classics.

 

Summer in Mara Review – Go Fetch

Summer in Mara Review – Go Fetch

It’s tough to properly review a video game when you aren’t able to finish it due to a game-breaking bug. If I’m going to be honest, I’m relieved that Summer in Mara broke. I can tell that developer Chibig poured a lot of love into it, but the game is a mess of bizarre design choices and poorly implemented ideas. It’s a shame that this Kickstarted game didn’t receive the polish it deserved.

 

I can’t recommend this game to anyone, even without taking the game-breaking bug into account. Let’s get into what went wrong with Summer in Mara and the few things that did work well.

 

All About Execution

 

Summer in Mara Review

 

You start the game as Koa, a little girl who’s never known a life outside of her home island. Koa was adopted and raised by Haku, a Qüido whose in-game model is kind of terrifying. The story is simple and told through excessive, uninspired dialogue. It doesn’t take long to realize that Koa is a spoiled brat who constantly tells every person she meets that she’s… not a child? I understand that children can be irrational and immature, but Koa is literally a child.

 

The game’s story starts out fine but quickly becomes obnoxious to the point of being intolerable. Almost every character Koa runs into lectures her on being polite and having manners; most of those same characters don’t even follow their own advice and are incredibly rude. At first glance, it may seem like the game is trying to teach children the importance of treating others well. But is this game even aimed at children?

 

It’s okay for a story to repeat ideas, especially if it’s trying to make a point. The problem with Summer in Mara‘s approach is how little this actually benefits the narrative. Everyone repeats the same information, and if not for the art, I’d think most of the side characters are one person placed in different locations.

 

Summer in Mara Review

 

Another weak point in Summer in Mara is the lackluster farming mechanics. Farming is central to the game, but its implementation becomes a huge burden for the player. Koa’s home island is the only location I ran into where you can plant and harvest. This means you have to travel by boat and through a couple of loading screens to reach it when you’re off on other islands. You aren’t required to do this just a few times⁠. The game forces you to make dozens of these trips to get anything done.  had to travel back to Koa’s home island too many times just to grow one or two vegetables, just to complete a mission, come back, and repeat the process over and over.

 

Traveling by boat isn’t very satisfying. You don’t really do anything other than move in one of several directions. Opening your map to see where you need to go is inconvenient considering how often you may need to look at it. You can dive from your boat later on in the game, but the controls are a mess and you sort of have to figure it out while Koa drowns.

 

“Fetch, girl!”

 

Summer in Mara Review

 

My biggest gripe with Summer in Mara is the game’s quest structure. ⁠Every single action you take as Koa is in service of a series of fetch quests that make up the entire game. Some of these quests aren’t necessary to progress the main story, but even the main story feels like a fetch quest. Sometimes you’re rewarded with money or cool items, but it’s all so you can do more tedious quests. Every character in this game believes the universe revolves around their needs and that Koa is there to help for no reason. Characters’ stories connect to one another through this web of fetch quests and Koa gets almost nothing in return.

 

When it comes down to it, it’s a bunch of adults manipulating a girl who isn’t even 10 years old. It’d be easy to let it slip if it was part of the story, but that’s the whole narrative in summary.

 

Tying Up Loose Ends

 

Summer in Mara Review

 

Music and art direction are Summer in Mara’s two strengths… or they would be if the music triggered properly. For some reason, music isn’t implemented well in this game. A song will start playing when talking to a character and then suddenly stop for no apparent reason. There are moments when a song only played for about 10 seconds before it was cut off by an event or by nothing. The soundtrack for this game is actually pretty relaxing and just overall great. It’s a shame the player won’t get to hear it that often, since most of the game is spent without it.

 

I would say that the highlight of this entire experience is the animated, hand-drawn scenes. They’re done with a level of love and attention that I wish the main game received. They’re quirky, cute, and they have a unique personality that the game fails to capture.

 

Summer in Mara

 

Let’s get back to talking about the game-breaking bug. I don’t know how long a typical playthrough of Summer in Mara is, but I only got to experience eight hours of the game. Three of those hours were spent trying to figure out if the game was actually broken or if I was overlooking something. Sadly, it was the former. One of the main quests required that I return to the main island by boat; the thing is that the game wouldn’t let me board the boat, which was the only way I could advance the story. I tried finishing up the side quests but it didn’t fix anything. After a couple weeks of booting up and hoping the problem went away, I gave up on the game. I wasn’t about to start a new game save only to arrive at the same point.

 

Summer in Mara doesn’t have anything to offer that other games haven’t done better. Ultimately, it’s a muddled mess of design choices that don’t weave together well. Skip this game. It’s not worth your or anyone else’s time.

 

This review of Summer in Mara is based on the Nintendo Switch version. A review code was provided by the publisher.