I’ve always said that indie developers can afford to take risks that bigger studios would otherwise never be allowed to take. We would never get Lost in Paradise and I doubt Sumire would be made if not for the developers over at GameTomo. This small studio out Tokyo recently launched Sumire on Nintendo Switch and PC and it is unlike many of the games I’ve played recently. For that, it is a breath of fresh air and a palette cleanser after several weeks of playing triple-A titles. It’s always the smaller studios that offer the most impressive games because they aren’t afraid to take chances.
Sumire isn’t a long game by any means, I’ve spent no more than five hours playing through it but it’s left an impact on me. Way more than game triple the length and budget. I feel the passion of the developers and what they want to say with Sumire and that alone is why I’m happy what the studio set out to do succeed.
Playing as the young girl Sumire, you may likely see bits of yourself in her. I’ve interacted with kids facing similar problems the protagonist faces. Dealing with the death of her grandmother, her parents do not get along and her father is out of the picture. In her heart, Sumire is lonely and it is up to you, the player to help her have one perfect day. Did I mention it was her grandmother who asked her to do all this in a dream?
Sumire’s Perfect Day
Why is she looking to experience one perfect day? Well, Sumire discovers a seed one day on her floor and deciding to plant it, the seed sprouts a talking flower that only has one day on our planet. So, we give this young sapling the experience it desires, prompting Sumire to create a list of activities to complete.
As you go down the Perfect Day list, which includes a visit to a Wisteria Tree, making a new friend, telling your parents how you feel. Perfectly reasonable things to try and make the most of keeping positive in a not-so-positive time. With each task, Sumire will interact with people and places, one scenario is speaking to Sumire’s best friend, Chie and making up with them.
Choices do have consequences but nothing ever feels unbelievable in that sense. You’re either understanding or you aren’t when speaking to someone. If you decide to be friends with Chie then that reflects in your choices later. If you decide to not be friends, that also is reflected in what happens later. Each thing you check off from your Perfect Day list uses similar gameplay with similar outcomes. My one critique would be how black and white each decision faced was.
Sumire’s distinct art direction is partially why the game works so well. Environments are vibrant, areas are detailed and the score is serene with instrumental music sending you to the Japanese countryside. You won’t spend much time there though as within five hours the game takes to complete and you’ll have to live with your choices.
Sumire might not do anything exciting with gameplay but it doesn’t need to be exciting. This is a game that tackles difficult issues and makes them impactful to the player and to the protagonist. We’ve all face loss before, we forget how hard it is to lose someone close to us. Sumire reminds us of how important it is to live life now just for us but also for the ones we’ve lost. There’s something heartwarming about the notion of carrying on a legacy, it makes us better and keeps us grounded.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
- Short, beautiful experience
- Uses themes of grief to a successful conclusion
- Very little replay value