War is bleak, lonely, and deadly. It will break the hardiest of souls and will drive people to despair. Therefore, it’s understandable that the slightest glimmer of hope is a welcome distraction. Summertime Madness feeds off this escapism in its surreal but beautiful theme.
Developed by DP Games and published by Sometimes You, this is a dreamy, puzzle title. In an ever-changing world where perspectives are fluid, you must solve challenging problems. With the answers staring you in the face, you won’t see the wood for the trees! Subsequently, it’s a maddening game that’s equally infuriating as it is rewarding.
Summertime Madness is emotive.
I adore an emotive story, and what could be more emotional than World War II? The city is Prague, and the year is 1945. A painter resides in a war-torn street and is surrounded by destruction. His only escape is to paint beautiful canvases. However, this is about to change. From the shadow of his room, a stranger appears. He offers the artist the chance to enter his paintings, but there is a twist. He must complete his adventures before the time runs out, otherwise, he’ll become trapped forever. The deal is struck and a dreamy, puzzling adventure begins.
The journey takes you across an array of landscapes that are filled with problems. You begin on a boat, then a lighthouse, moving platforms, a maze of stairs, and more. The puzzles you face become increasingly complex as they test your memory and logic skills. You’ll quickly become disoriented as the surrounding landscape shifts as problems are solved. The evolving world was intriguing and the transition from one canvas to another was seamless.
An array of puzzles.
Summertime Madness could have utilised one type of puzzle repeatedly. With the constant flux of environments, it would have easily been achieved. Fortunately, though, the developers mixed up the approach and the gameplay benefits exponentially. You are tasked with exploring maze-like worlds while flipping switches to unlock new paths. Furthermore, you must adjust cogs, rotate moving paths, and venture into alternative dimensions. Every layer of each stage is beautifully intertwined, and every action has a consequence.
The complexity of each problem will test veteran players, yet, at times, it was confusing. The lack of hand-holding increased the difficulty, but in a surreal setting, it was unnecessarily hard. This is compounded further when some solutions require you to listen to audio clues. Now, this wouldn’t normally be an issue, yet, with no guidance, you can easily miss it. Consequently, you may get stuck on a level with no obvious way out, and this was frustrating.
To help alleviate this situation, the developers introduced three levels of difficulty. Now, the game doesn’t get easier. No, it just allows you to use the hint system more freely. If you attempt the hardest setting, you have 3 in-game hours to escape. The medium setting is 6 hours, and the easiest is unlimited. Every time you check your watch for a clue, it jumps the timer by 15 minutes. This adds a horrible layer of pressure, especially as the clues are as surreal as the world you are exploring. Time ticks away and this makes a tricky game tougher still.
Summertime Madness: A pastel dream!
I have recently looked at Drizzlepath: Déjà Vu and Summertime Madness look similar. Its pastel landscapes highlight the desire to escape the war-torn world. Yet, the soft and charming environment is juxtaposed with garish monochromatic imagery. These striking moments are cold and heartless and enhance the nightmarish situation. Each level has been wonderfully designed to look and feel unique. However, there are moments where each stage combines to open new paths. It was an interesting concept that ensured a loose narrative between each area.
This shaky bond is reinforced by steady and familiar audio. The soft and calm music plays throughout while enhancing the surreal situation. Thanks to its airy tones, you are transported to each wonderful location. This is supported further because of an understated use of sound effects. You’ll occasionally hear rain and thunder, but mostly you are accompanied by the sound of footsteps. I loved how this added to the feeling of isolation without going over the top. The developers’ approach to the audio was excellent, as it complements the theme perfectly.
Typical gamepad inaccuracies.
This genre doesn’t demand much from its controller setup. However, it still needs to be accurate and responsive. Fortunately, Summertime Madness for Xbox is pretty good. Its mapping is easy to understand, and it reacts well to each command. Sadly, though, it isn’t as accurate as I’d like. A small hitbox makes selecting items a little cumbersome, and this can be frustrating. If you are playing on the easiest setting, it matters not. Yet, when time is of the essence, you don’t want to keep missing the mark. Moreover, this would be better with a mouse and keyboard, but the controller is serviceable, nonetheless.
Linear puzzle titles aren’t renowned for their replay value. Luckily, though, there are plenty of reasons to return. Whether you wish to beat the hardest setting or find every collectable is up to you. There are 30 butterflies to find as well as musical instruments and graffiti. These items are hidden around each stage and are challenging to locate. This, combined with the tough achievement list, adds to the longevity while making it great value for money.
Summertime Madness: A puzzling dream.
I adore a good puzzle game, and Summertime Madness hit the right notes. With its fantastic blend of surreal imagery and strange puzzles, I was hooked. I admired the calm audio and the tough puzzles that’ll keep you working throughout. If you love the genre, you’ll enjoy this strange twist on the action. It’s for these reasons that I recommend you to buy it here! Jump into your paintings, beat the Devil, and solve every problem you face.