Release Date: May 26, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
We have all played games that evoke emotion. Fear, excitement, joy, and anger are all common themes found in video games. Great games can produce multiple emotions throughout a single playthrough. What about some of life’s more challenging emotions and situations? Depression, split families, rocky friendships?
These scenarios are a bit more delicate and challenging to convey and discuss through this digital medium. Sumire tackles subjects and more. An allegory provides insight on sensitive subjects such as mindfulness, spirituality, changes in family structure, and loss and grief.
Sumire presents a day in the life of a young girl. Her grandmother has passed, her father is currently not staying at the house, her mother is depressed, and she can tell that she is struggling through her inner monologue. Dealing with any one of these issues at a time can be overwhelming, especially for an adolescent with no real support system.
The genesis of this story is simple. Sumire wakes up in the middle of the night to running water. When she gets up to turn it off, there is a crash, and among the broken glass from the window, she is presented with a golden seed. Sumire plants the seed and dozes off at the table as a beautiful flower blooms and becomes sentient. This flower informs Sumire that he has but one day to live and wishes to have the most amazing day ever with her help.
Sumire’s world is a beautiful 2.5d side-scrolling watercolor-esq piece of art.
What makes us human? Our squishy pink flesh? Belly buttons and opposable thumbs? Flowers possess none of these. The flower wishes to experience emotions and all the situations that come along with being human. The flower tells Sumire that he is born of her grandmother’s magic and that if Sumire agrees to spend the day with the flower, he will show Sumire to her grandmother. Willing to do anything to see her grandmother again, Sumire agrees to help the flower, believing that this could fix all of her problems.
Sumire’s world is a beautiful 2.5d side-scrolling watercolor-esq piece of art. Vibrant paintings filled with depth and detail. Environments are gorgeous. This whimsical world feels alive, from star-filled evenings near the house and detailed forest environments to streets in town. You can walk from the middle ground to the back or foreground.
This depth allows for unique item placement and a sense of discovery for new paths. The background is always curved, giving you the sense of traveling and never feeling flat. Leaves fall and dance through this space, adding to the level of detail within the world. Character design is deep, and the animals all have well-designed personalities that make them feel cared for and unique.
Gameplay consists of exploring the environment, taking notes in a notebook, and accomplishing tasks initiated by you, the flower, or any number of the characters in this world. Once Sumire wakes and meets the flower, she can converse with all animals and inanimate objects such as statues. There are collectibles, primarily coins, used to complete tasks like payment to a stork to cross the river or even gacha games available in town.
Your actions have positive and negative consequences. The Flower is a visual representation of Sumire’s actions. As you negatively impact the world or go through tough situations, the flower can change color or lose petals. The game doesn’t make these choices for you. Often during challenging situations, you are presented with choices that directly impact the story. Still, the pacing can weigh down on the experience after a playthrough as you try to work through each event.
The audio is fantastic. Each location has its own unique theme. Catchy piano ballads and uplifting guitar chords set the tone. Darker moments had a tense change in mood and added to the ambiance of these locations.
This game pushes you to say and do what you really want which makes it so much more
There’s a sense of mystery here as you attempt to understand this world and whether Sumire is actually experiencing all of this or just dreaming. A large amount of stress burdens the character, so this could very well all be in her mind. I’m sure developer GameTomo was looking to utilize these magical situations to help promote the player to think deeper about these scenarios.
How to be mindful and live in the present. Honor the memories of loved ones that passed. Contemplate your decisions, their outcomes and take responsibility for them. This game pushes you to say and do what you really want, which makes it so much more; it’s a little book of zen. It’s a guide on perseverance and moving forward. What is so great about this is it gives you a choice. Not every choice has to be “good” or correct. The decisions you make directly impact other characters. The game provides you opportunities to contemplate your actions and understand different viewpoints.
Sumire is built on more narrative than adventure. Replayability comes with multiply play-throughs that add more insight to the situation and alter the conclusion. Through its childish design, Sumire covers exceptionally complicated topics that are both enchanting and thought-provoking. While the slow pacing and overall gameplay loop might hinder progression for some, I believe this to be a gem of a game.
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