Summertime Madness is a really intriguing first-person puzzle game that may be worth your while. Well, it was for me.
Before randomly requesting to review this game, I never even heard about Summertime Madness. Luckily for me, the devs approved my request, got a code for the PS5, and what a pleasant surprise Summertime Madness turned out to be!
You are a painter in Prague in 1945 that finds himself trapped into one of his own canvases after making a deal with the devil. That's where a dreamlike journey into a surreal world of the artist’s own creations begins where the atmospheric gameplay provides mysteries to discover, puzzles to solve, and artistic landscapes to explore.
The game is absolutely stunning, a real treat for your eyes. Some of the environments, since this whole surreal world is based on paintings, are faithful recreations in 3D of famous paintings like "Bedroom in Arles" from Van Gogh or "The Persistence of Memory" by Dali and even a whole puzzle section set in Escher's "Relativity". Most of the time, most of the environments are bright with vibrant colors and a unique art style that makes everything pop, especially if you play it on a big 4k OLED like I was. However, the game doesn't shy away from just taking that color out as it transports you into this dark void where the only visible thing is a massive beautiful statue in the middle.
It all takes place on this ever-evolving island. As you explore and investigate your surroundings, the island will start to change. A ship might appear, then a lighthouse, then a castle, and then well, a city in the far future free of war. Each environment is unique and looks drop-dead gorgeous. Each environment features its own set of puzzles and some of these are tough to crack. It starts all simple, where switches open one door while closing another and levers lower one platform while raising another. As you progress through this journey, the puzzles become even more cryptic and "out-there". Luckily, there's a built-in hint system where sometimes the hints can be harder to understand than the puzzle itself.
But as soon as you understand the underlying logic, it all starts to kinda make sense. What you need to solve the puzzles is mostly already there, waiting for you to see it, grasp it, but you have to look for it. Once you find the hint, you have to understand it and then go a little beyond that. I absolutely loved these challenging puzzles. I also loved exploring the environments to find the hidden collectibles or one really weird artistic video...
Spoiler ahead - One puzzle in particular kinda blew my mind at how unique and creative the solution actually was. Later in the game, as you enter one of the dark voids, there's a statue of a giant head with a sword stuck in it. As you get close to it, the screen starts to get all noisy, and a loud hissing noise increases its intensity to unbearing levels and you die before even reaching the sword. I thought trying to go backward so I didn't see the statue, but to no luck, I still died. So I tried a couple more times, but nothing each time. That loud hissing noise got to me so I naturally just muted the TV. After failing a couple more times, I decided to use a hint and what I saw was just a screenshot of the Settings... huh? Then it struck me, I had to lower the volume of the audio of the game and that was it. As the character was pulling out the sword, I was in awe at this insane puzzle design. I muted my TV cause the noise was annoying, but it never occurred to me to well, mute the game's audio. Hats off to the one who came up with it, you have my respect!
Summertime Madness is a special game clearly built by artists or at least people who appreciate and want to pay respect to the art of painting. It's a stunning and picturesque surreal world and has some crazy good and difficult puzzles to crack. It's hard to recommend it to everyone, but if you are into puzzle games, this is definitely for you. Thanks for reading!
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a code provided by the devs. Summertime Madness is releasing 26th Jan 2022 for PC, Playstation, Xbox and Switch.