Summertime Madness is one of those typical indie games. Either it’s a walking simulator, or it’s a roguelite. In this case, it is the former. However, despite being yet another walking simulator, it is at least worth taking a look at.
Unlike most walking sims, however, Summertime Madness foregoes a lot of typical storytelling and goes for a mostly visual approach. Taking place inside a painter’s dream, the game largely tells its story without any words, simply relying on its environments and gameplay to deliver the experience. As such, Summertime Madness isn’t so much about telling a story as it is about the simple experience of playing the game. Though there is at least a story to set up the events of the game. And it all begins in 1945 Prague during World War 2, in the house of a painter.
A painter has isolated himself in his studio. While the war is raging on his doorstep, he seeks refuge in his own world. With so much suffering and destruction going on outside, he wants to bring some happiness and love into the world. A little summertime, if you will.
A mysterious figure appears in his room, offering him a chance to enter his own paintings. Though with one major caveat. If he cannot find a way back to the real world within a time limit, his soul will remain trapped in the canvas. This explains the game’s time limit. In Classic mode, this time limit is 6 hours. In advanced mode, it’s halved to 3 hours. It’s up to you to find your way back out in time.
Designing A Dream
Summertime Madness takes place in what can only be described as a dream. Progression through the game is very dream-like, with doors sometimes leading to entirely new places. Sometimes things work similarly to how they do in real life, except a little off.
For instance, I was walking towards a lighthouse and stepped inside. A lever was there, so I pulled it, and the floor started rising (despite there being a ladder there to use). When I was taken to the top of the lighthouse I was suddenly above the clouds and while it was daytime when I entered the lighthouse elevator, now it was nighttime, with a giant moon in front of me.
Or when I was on a ship that had parts of it rising from inside the ship itself. And then, a victrola with the sound tube going up somewhere. The entire game is filled with delightful dreamy imagery that makes me feel like I am literally inside a dream. Or a Salvador Dali painting, which is even directly referenced in the game.
A Unique Art Style
Recreating how a dream inside a painting may look, Summertime Madness goes for a very specific art style. Every texture has lines going over it as if it’s been literally painted. Summertime Madness clearly wants to bring home what it’s like to literally explore a painting. I’m almost reminded of Enya’s music video for “Caribbean Blue” which had a similar theme, although with watercolor paintings as its focus.
The minimalist art style still looks gorgeous at times though. The opening scene on the main island shows the grass moving, with the light reflecting in the leaves in a very beautiful manner. While the game looks anything but photorealistic, it does have enough bloom to at least give the sensation that the world you’re in has light in it.
Puzzles And Dreamy Logic
Most of Summertime Madness consists of progressing by solving puzzles. Usually, these consist of finding levers to pull or generally interacting with objects to make stuff happen. A prime example is how at the beginning of the game you need to get on a ship and spin the ship’s wheels and touch bells to make stuff happen.
None of the puzzles have any kind of logical sense and require you to think in a more abstract manner. For instance, the ship’s wheel does anything but what you imagine it would, in fact controlling gates. The ship even has multiple wheels that also control these gates. As such, a lot of the game’s difficulty just lies in solving the puzzles with what amounts to pure dream logic.
I’m not sure how one is to guess all this out of the blue. I was given a walkthrough for the preview, which allowed me to get through the game mostly without any issues. But I just wonder how you would figure half of this stuff out yourself. And while a six-hour time limit may seem like enough, if you spend like 2 hours on a single puzzle, that’s a lot of time wasted just to figure that puzzle out.
There are also numerous collectibles in the game. Such as musical instruments and things scattered through the game that can be interacted with. I’m not sure if finding all of them gives any bonuses, but I have a feeling a lot of OCD players and completionists will try to find them all. Which, again, takes more precious time away from them.
A Unique Experience
I can see Summertime Madness being perfect for streamers, as the community could help solve the puzzles. I can also imagine someone will eventually be making their own walkthrough for the game. It definitely seems like a fun game to explore and find various things in.
If you want to give Summertime Madness a try for yourself, a public demo was made available as part of the Steam Game Festival. If any of this sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend giving it a go for yourself. With some truly breathtaking visuals and a feel entirely its own, this WWII era dream puzzle is definitely worth exploring.
There’s even something special waiting for those who can beat it in the time limit. I won’t give any spoilers about the ending or post-end content, but it’s definitely worth playing through the game for.
What do you think of Summertime Madness? Is this a walking sim you’d be interested in? Let us know in the comments!