Summer Catchers is an arcade racing game developed by FaceIT and published by Noodlecake Studios. With both a charming presentation and fun gameplay, Summer Catchers produces a beautiful pixel art arcade experience. The visuals of the game are absolutely stunning, for a lot of different reasons. Each area of the game has a wonderful and vivid color palette. Everything in the world is always animated and alive, which speaks for its polish.
Summer Catchers also offers a lot of versatility between the game’s levels and aesthetics so the visuals are never stale. The game begins in a dark blue and purple winter forest, and you are sent on a journey to find summer. With every level, you inch closer to a warm ocean, and the entire game has an emphasis on the journey, not the destination. There are so many pleasant and memorable moments from the art and visual storytelling alone. Summer Catchers is a visual delight that is well worth experiencing first-hand.
The game benefits from more than just gorgeous art: its music and sound design are equally wonderful. The soundtrack is vibrant, varied, and never repetitive. There was also a lot of care put into the sound design of the world: you can hear the wind in the trees or the chirping of birds flying by. The world is often interacting with the music or sounds; characters are playing instruments in the background and will change what songs they play after a period of time. My favorite detail was a dog howling along to whichever song was playing on a banjo. It all adds up to create a really lovely and lively world for you to explore.
The affordable, innocent writing and dialogue in Summer Catchers highlight how much care has been put into the storytelling of the game. There are a variety of memorable and unique characters you will meet throughout your journey. As you travel to new places, you get to write about your travels to the people you passed along the way. You send little letters back to them, and they will reply to you too! Nothing in the story or writing is overly complex, but if you pay close attention there are a lot of subtle details to explore. The artistic themes throughout the game overshadow its simplicity. The story and experience aren’t just told in the writing, it’s illustrated through player interaction, gameplay, and visuals. Summer Catchers strikes the perfect balance in interactive storytelling, where the player can choose how much they want to engage with it. The story provides a simple but compelling context for the gameplay, while the gameplay enhances your investment in the story.
Summer Catchers has simple yet addicting arcade racing gameplay. You race as a little boxcar across the countryside using power-ups to protect yourself from obstacles. The initial tutorial was short but did a great job teaching the controls and it didn’t take long to feel like second nature. The controls remain simple throughout the game, but that doesn’t mean it easy by any means. If the difficulty becomes a problem, there’s no need to fret as the game offers plenty of accessibility in difficulty. Since I have a slow reaction time, I played on easy and found the game to be enjoyable with the right amount of challenge. For those looking to conquer a harder challenge, the game can be played on normal or hard. Other than the fast-paced arcade racing, there are puzzles and tasks that must be completed to progress in the game. They aren’t particularly tricky, but there were a couple that stumped me for a while. I personally love puzzle gameplay, but it isn’t for everyone. After crashing, an occasional story event triggers where your character gets up and explores the level they are in for a little bit. These segments allow the player to encounter a new aspect of gameplay, and often a little story. These bits go a long way to add variety to the gameplay and break up any monotony. Every time an event is triggered, there is always a sense of excitement and curiosity about what you are about to find.
Overall, Summer Catchers is an endearing and wonderful experience on a lot of levels. The gameplay is fun, intuitive, and can be scaled from easy to brutal. The art is gorgeous, the soundtrack is great, and the world of the game is incredibly well crafted. The story is simple but compelling, the characters unique and memorable. It is an experience well worth the price of admission.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch