Summerhouse – Every home hides a story.

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Summerhouse - Every home hides a story.

This deceptively simple house-building game from Friedemann is surprisingly good at prompting stories. Once you enter a world, you are left alone to create homes or buildings with a fair amount of resources and very little restriction. It’s a lot of fun by itself, but over time the ease of placing things led to me creating deep backstories for everything I was making. Summerhouse simply lets you be. Your imagination is allowed to wander wherever it desires in that moment.

Soon after starting the demo, I found that I was asking myself, ‘Who lives here? What do they do?’ I would start asking these questions with one building, and often that would prompt the beginning of a story that would span the rest of the street. It helps that, although there isn’t an endless amount of choice, each item you can add to a building ignites its own spark of inspiration. I built a cafe then questioned if it was any good. My answer was, ‘No,’ so I placed several overflowing bins outside it. If the Cafe is bad then perhaps the local restaurant is popular – so much so that it needs renovating to keep up with demand? So then I’d put a construction-like block next to it with a stop sign outside. Naturally, traffic cannot pass through a construction site!

The park turned out pretty well. I think… | Image credit: Eurogamer/Friedemann

A park and visitor centre found its way into the street because one of the signs you can put down looks like a wildlife information board. The area needed to look like a park after that, so I packed as much foliage, grass and boulders in as possible (which, dear reader, was not just an excuse for putting lots of trees everywhere because I liked their design). Ah, the park was complete. But WAIT! A large park needs a ranger to take care of things, but they also need to live nearby. What would their house look like? Would they leave their washing outside? I think so; they’d definitely be clued in on the weather report for the day. Perhaps they’d have shutters decorating their windows to give a more natural feel to the hut they reside in.

All of these small stories spun out from the building and decorative options given to you. Much like the game, they’re simple but not basic. There’s enough personality in each item here to create something from nothing.



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