Summertime Madness is a beautiful puzzle adventure game that follows the tale of a painter in Prague. During the war, Prague is under heavy bombing and a disgruntled painter attempts to block the horrors of war from his view by painting an array of beautiful landscapes. One night, as the explosions draw close and strange man appears and offers to send the painter inside his creations away from the bombs. The deal sounds too good to be true until the man says that he has six hours to escape his painted world otherwise he will be trapped within them forever.
Whisked away into the paintings, you are tasked with solving the myriad puzzles and opening up different parts of this amazing world. But is Summertime Madness a sun-soaked holiday worth taking or a twisted spiral into madness? Here are my first impressions of Summertime Madness.
Summertime Madness on Xbox
The first thing you will notice is the stunning paint-style visuals. The soft tones and bright colours make the world of Summertime Madness a feast for the eyes. The subtle blurring and paint dab-like textures give the world an ethereal dream-like quality compared to the dark war-torn world you leave behind.
There are multiple game types to try from the main 6-hour timed adventure or a more serene time-free game allowing you to explore the paintings and solve the puzzles at your own pace. I opted for the timed game as it was recommended in the start menu. If you are an advanced puzzle game player, you can opt for the three-hour advanced mode and speed run it.
During my initial playtime, I managed to solve the boat and the lighthouse and thoroughly enjoyed it. The game has a Myst-like quality in that it combines exploration with mechanical puzzles without giving you too many pointers. Should you need help solving the more taxing elements, you can trade 15 minutes with the mystery devil to get a clue on how to solve it. This was very tempting at first but once you are in the mindset of the puzzle maker, it is simply a matter of time and attempts to unlock the unfolding elements of the game. Throughout the course of the game, there is also a variety of items to collect in the form of musical instruments and the bedroom at the top of the tower is amazing if you recognise it.
The soundscape is a relaxing mix of music and soft sounds from blowing wind to musical chimes. The whole experience is serene until it becomes frustrating. Some of the puzzles seem straightforward but every so often a puzzle will move from the challenging column to the frustration column and patience is needed to return to it.
Whilst I am only two hours into the game, the six-hour time limit is both stressful, but also reassuring as you know there is an end. Myst was around six hours whereas Rivan, the sequel was over double that which was a little too taxing on my simple brain. The fact that advanced players can finish it in three indicates that it might not overstay its welcome.
Overall, my first impressions of Summertime Madness are positive. Beautiful graphics, relaxing music, and an ethereal ambiance make for an inviting game. The story is thin but helps to set the scene. The trading of clues for time is a nice touch but is sometimes sorely needed due to the odd frustrating puzzle. The more seasoned puzzler could complete this quickly whereas younger players may struggle.