Review – Summertime Madness

Indie publisher Sometimes You is still attempting to improve their portfolio with more artistic-centered, thought-provoking experiences, rather than the “easy platinum trophy” microgames they used to churn out a few years ago. I’ve talked before about their best outings being puzzle-infused adventures like The 7th Sector and The Mooseman. I like when they give very small teams a chance to shine with their experimental games, even if they don’t end up being that good. Summertime Madness is a great example. Not exactly a good game, but one with good intentions worth respecting.

Summertime Madness Visuals

Summertime Madness is a pretty game. Not exactly a next-gen title when it comes to visuals, but still pretty.

Summertime Madness starts off with a fully voiced intro cutscene detailing its plot. The game is set in Prague during World War II. You control a depressed artist who wants to escape the horrors of war. The uglier the war gets, the more he paints. One day, a mysterious man (totally not the Devil, I swear) offers the painter a chance to escape this reality by transporting his soul into one of his paintings. He now has a few hours to escape it, or else his soul will get stuck inside this alternate canvas dimension forever.

Got it, nice premise, digestible reason for the gameplay to exist, stakes at play. I like that, there’s nothing bad with it at all in this regard. I even liked the overall presentation and gameplay. Summertime Madness is a first-person walking sim, first and foremost, but it does feature pretty painting-like visuals and a soothing soundtrack. Your character also moves insanely fast for a game in said genre, which was a shocking and pleasing revelation. The basis for a good puzzle adventure is all featured in here. The problem lies on the execution of said puzzle-solving gameplay loop.

Summertime Madness Intro

The game starts off with an introductory cutscene featuring some excellent voice acting.

Summertime Madness felt like playing a pretty escape the room game set in an open area. The game is comprised of a series of puzzles that, sadly, feel beyond cryptic at times. You do one thing in order to unlock another completely unrelated thing just so you can unlock a brand new area where you have to do another thing. When you play the game for the first time, it feels like nothing makes sense at all, and I do think this was intentional. This is a game all about racing against the clock in order to get to the final puzzle before an arbitrary time limit expires, after all.

Here’s the thing: there is a hint system, but just like anything featuring a deal with totally-not-the-Devil-I-swear, there’s a caveat. Whenever you ask for a hint by looking at a magical clock, you lose fifteen minutes out of your remaining time limit. If you’re playing the game on Explorer mode, where there’s no time limit, that’s not a hassle, but that makes the experience even less fun than it is. However, you will need to ask for a lot of hints, considering how cryptic Summertime Madness feels at times. It almost feels like it was intentionally made for you to either fail at first or complete it without a time limit, and then make you replay it for the speed-running perks and bragging rights. Either way, it goes against the game’s overall vibe.


Whenever you get stuck in a puzzle, you can use the clock to give you a hint, at the cost of a few minutes off your time limit.

I like Summertime Madness in theory. I like its premise, its world, I even like the fact it’s a walking simulator with a stupidly fast running button. On the other hand, this is a puzzle-solving adventure where the act of solving puzzles feels cryptic and arbitrary, almost as if it was intentionally made for you to fail your first run. With some slightly better puzzle design, this could have been a cult hit among puzzle enthusiasts. As it stands, I respect its premise, but I can’t exactly recommend it.


Graphics: 7.5

Not exactly the kind of visual style that would ask for a next-gen port, but it’s a pretty game, all things considered. I love how everything is animated just like a moving painting.

Gameplay: 6.5

Technically speaking, this is a walking simulator featuring simple, yet cryptic puzzle solving. Thankfully, your character moves around like a roadrunner, mitigating one of the most annoying issues present in most walking simulators.

Sound: 7.0

Its music is calm and soothing. It’s not memorable, but definitely not bad either. The initial cutscene is fully voiced and whoever was hired for the role did an impressively good job.

Fun Factor: 5.5

There is a very interesting puzzle game hidden in this borderline cryptic artsy-infused escape room simulator. Its puzzles make little sense at first, meaning you’ll either run out of time or decide to play it on easy during your first attempt.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Summertime Madness is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox Series S.

A copy of Summertime Madness was provided by the publisher.