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Written by Jeremy Duff on 4/9/2024 for PC  

A lot of people play video games for the purpose of escaping their everyday world. It is often nice to step away from the world and get lost in your imagination in a safe way. However, some games can possibly cause more stress than they alleviate. That isn’t the case with Summerhouse. This experience is purely about relaxation and letting your creativity run wild.

Summerhouse is best described as a sandbox rather than a game. There is no start, middle or end here. There is only your canvas and what you choose to do with it. The game presents you with a choice of four environments, and within which ever one you choose, you are given a variety of objects to use as stamps to craft your own scene. Each scene is set in a different environment, including a desert-esque oasis, two different mountain valleys on the waterfront, and one on the edge of an urban landscape. In addition to the four environments, you can also choose both the time of day (day or night) and the weather conditions (rain or no rain). It isn’t a huge option, but it does allow you to add some variance to your scenes.

Once you have chosen your background, it is then time to create. Players have a gallery of “stamps” that they can use to piece together a building or series of buildings. The stamps are nearly all pieces of architecture. You have walls, roofs, doors, windows, as well as a variety of outdoor furniture and accent items to place on your creations. The accent items consist of things such as antennae and satellite dishes, lawn furniture, as well as various landscaping items. You will simply select an item from one of the categories listed on the side of the screen and then place it anywhere on the screen that you wish.

You don’t get many options in terms of manipulating the various objects that you have access to in the game. There are no color or sizing options; the most advanced thing that you can do to alter them is to flip them horizontally. For as many objects as there are in the game, I can’t help but find myself wishing that there were more. Even if it were opened up to support the Steam workshop, it could bring so much more to the experience.

When placing the objects, you will occasionally unlock additional pieces to use. These happen randomly throughout the experience and there is no indication of what exactly you need to do to trigger these unlocks. For example, just by combining / placing two of a particular window piece next to each other to create a larger window, you get a new version that includes an older man hanging out the window and waving to those passing by. There are about 30 or so pieces like this that can be unlocked throughout your playtime, and they seem to be the main source of adding people to your creations.

Once you have finished your creation, or at least hit a stopping point, you can save the scene and even trigger a replay that shows your creation being constructed piece by piece. Other than that, once finished it is time to sit back and just watch the environment “live”. The grass and trees sway with the wind, birds fly by while the rivers and creeks flow across the screen. There is soft and serene background music that places along with a variety of environmental sound effects that really bring the creation to life.

Realistically, you can see everything that the Summerhouse experience has to offer in an hour or so. You’ll be able to create a scene in each environment and utilize all the tools at your disposal quickly, which really leaves you wandering what else there is to do. There is nothing else to do here. It would be nice to have the ability to create your own pieces to use, or as I mentioned previously, access the Steam community workshop to expand the options at your disposal. I think it would also be beneficial if you could easily export your creations to use as wallpapers, perhaps even allowing animated wallpapers to be created.

You’ll get what you put into this experience. If you enjoy “doodling”, then this is a fun little toolset to make some cool, pixel scenes. However, if that isn’t something that sounds appealing to you, there isn’t anything here for you. What is here is a solid foundation for what could be a much larger experience or art utility. It sets out with a singular purpose: to allow you to relax and create some simple scenes. It absolutely does that, but not much else.

Be warned: There isn’t any sort of ”game” to the Summerhouse experience. This is a simple, doodling-sandbox meant to allow users to craft serene landscapes without needing any drawing skills. It does exactly what it sets out to do but could easily be SO much more. 

Rating: 6 Mediocre

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.


About Author

Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).

I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).

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