Summer in Mara

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Summer in Mara Game Poster Image
Beautiful eco-friendly adventure best played at slow pace.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

There's an enviromental-friendly theme that's pervasive in many of the game's mechanics. As Koa, exploration leads to meeting new people, who tell their stories and paint a richer picture of the archipelago. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Koa learns lessons about replenishing the planet in Summer in Mara, not only from Yaya, but from others that Koa meets. The story is very uplighting.

Ease of Play

While it takes time to find recipes to expand Koa's equipment and food supplies, the game's very easy to navigate with a control scheme that's kept very simplistic. 

Violence & Scariness

There's an evil corporation that's bent on destroying the landscape and harvesting the land for profit. Some creatures fall victim to their machinations. Violence is implied, but never shown.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Summer in Mara is an adventure game for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The story's set on a tropical archipelago, and tasks players with tending their island while also uncovering a plot by an evil corporation to harvest the land's resources. The violence in the game is marginal at best, and is mainly implied by comments about what the business has supposedly done to creatures. There's a strong environmental-friendly undercurrent that promotes replenishing the planet, and gameplay revolves around resource management, exploration, listening to the stories the different characters tell, and stopping the exploitation of Mara. Apart from the mild violence, there's no inappropriate content included in the game.

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What's it about?

In SUMMER IN MARA, players take on the role of Koa who was found as a young child adrift in a boat. Yaya Haku, a kindly creature on an island, raises the child and teaches him about caring for the tropical island he calls home. Unfortunately for both of them, a group known as The Elit enter, wanting to exploit the sea and islands for financial gain. It's up to Koa to explore and help save the archipelago he calls home. Featuring more than 300 quests, as well as more than 20 different islands and characters to interact with, this title is about harvesting, planting, crafting, exploring, and helping others with their problems. There are treasures to find, a day-and-night cycle that forces Koa to take breaks, and the opportunity to craft to improve tools and even the boat Koa will use to explore. 

Is it any good?

Bright, bold, and colorful visuals hook the player and the gentle eco-management story reels them in. Summer in Mara is a game that starts somewhat slow with a sandbox world and seemingly little direction on how to improve equipment, before blossoming into a tale that's worth revisiting. The music is exquisite, and the visuals are veritable eye candy. The farming elements and crafting elements are intertwined well, always giving players something to do. It's not entirely perfect, though. At the start of the game, Yaya, the individual raising Koa, tells the child of the importance of replenishing what is taken. Koa cuts down a tree and plants another from the seed Yaya gives him. But finding other seeds seems frustrating at first, and it's not until several trees are reduced to crafting supplies that seeds start to drop. And if Koa does not harvest when things are ready, they will deteriorate. 

Additionally, there's a day-and-night cycle that can limit progress, but Koa needs to eat and to sleep. Finding new recipes, initially, is also hard, requiring players to slow down and not try to rush through the game. That's good news, especially if you're looking for a peaceful adventure, but bad news for hardcore gamers that want to get to the ending as quickly as possible. But if you're looking for an eco-friendly game that embraces a slower pace, with farming, crafting, and exploring, this is the game for you.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about things they can do to help the environment. Can you plant a garden, or a tree in the yard? What do you think is important and vital to the health of the planet?

  • Why are stories important? What do you like or dislike about the story of this game? What are some of your favorite stories to read?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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