summerhouse game review 1 friedemann
Image via Friedemann

Summerhouse Is a Wish Simulator Sandbox, Not a Game

I don’t own a house. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to own a house, given the state of the economy, the volatility of the industry and job market, and the fact that AI and venture capitalists make me wonder if I’ll be working in an Aldi or Costco in the next five to ten years. I suppose that’s why I like Summerhouse, a relaxed Friedemann and Future Friends Games “game” that is basically a house-building wish simulator. I don’t know if I’ll ever have this kind of tranquility, but I can pretend!

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If you played the sandbox building simulator Townscaper, then a game like Summerhouse should feel quite familiar. There are no scores. No requirements. A few building restrictions, due to limitations of blocks available and control. No one tells you what to do. You choose bits and pieces and assembles houses, neighborhoods, and anything you can manage to fit in the handful of vistas available to you.

Now, there are limitations to this. An array of items are available, but there aren’t a ton of different options. The ones that are there are available in a single color. There’s no resizing that I can see, but given there is no tutorial or explanation of how to start building, it is possible I just haven’t happened upon it. Some items are locked, requiring a person to do things like place duplicates of the same item right next to each other to trigger the appearance of new customization options. Some sort of introduction, or even a note saying, “Here’s what you can do and how to do it” would have been great.

While it isn’t a perfect toybox or game, I do find quite a bit of value in Summerhouse. Sometimes, I like to approach it as a zen experience. I click the random box repeatedly and make do with what I’m given. I create a home or building and appreciate what comes of my self-imposed guidelines. I’d try building a small neighborhood that would fit the ambiance. It’s a playground, to be certain, with the goal seeming to be to relax and enjoy the moment.

It’s very good at evoking a feeling. There is no stress. There is nothing you need to do. You don’t have to worry about anything. Just enjoy lo-fi music, place some bits and pieces around, and see if you like what you come up with. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Once you feel like maybe you’re done, turn the UI off and just watch the breeze blow. Maybe see how it looks at night or in the rain, to be certain this is the right house for the moment.

With Summerhouse, it feels like I’m encouraged to live in the moment and play with what I’ve been given. If someone is a creative kind of person who enjoys playing around with things like Picrews or the more aesthetic elements of building homes in The Sims, I could see this being a low-key diversion to cool down after a busy day or when you want to do something simple. But if you want endless opportunities and a packed array of building blocks, it isn’t it.

Summerhouse is available on PCs via Steam.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.