One Perfect, Special Day
If you only had one day to live, what would you do? What choices would you make, knowing that you can’t undo them or fix your mistakes? These are just some of the questions you’ll be faced with when playing GameTomo’s Sumire. Billed as an indie adventure game, Sumire is really more of a walking sim with some light puzzle-solving elements.
Only In Dreams
The story opens with the eponymous Sumire dreaming about her grandmother. Waking from her dream, we learn that in Sumire’s dream, her grandmother is trying to tell her something, but she can’t hear what it is. Unable to sleep, she gets up and moves around her family’s home. Soon, we learn that her beloved grandmother has recently passed away, and she is struggling to come to terms with this fact. While reminiscing, there’s a strange crash, and the sound of broken glass comes from Sumire’s bedroom.
If You Had One Wish
Upon returning to her room, she discovers a strange, glowing seed. Remembering the words of her grandmother, an avid gardener, she decides to plant the seed. Shortly afterward, she falls asleep, hoping that the strange seed will have a more beautiful life than her own. When she wakes, she finds that the seed has somehow sprouted and grown overnight into a beautiful flower. A beautiful flower that can talk, of course. The flower is a spirit, one who can only live in the human world for a single day. If Sumire can help the flower spirit one special day, it will help make her dream to see her grandmother one more time come true.
Thus begins the game. You’ll guide Sumire around town, showing the flower the various sites and people. Along the way, you’ll encounter woodland creatures, other spirits, and even some inanimate objects such as statues that have needs, wishes, and desires that you may be able to fulfill. Of course, nothing is ever simple or easy. The Crow Queen and her minions will try to thwart Sumire and the flower spirit, creating challenges you’ll need to overcome to progress through the game.
Gameplay is fairly simple and straightforward. You can move up and down to some extent and move left to right. You’ll see an on-screen prompt when you can interact with something in the environment. Occasionally, you’ll be confronted with a puzzle that you’ll need to solve or a game that you can play with your friends. None of these are particularly challenging, but they’re a nice touch nonetheless.
Style-wise, Sumire is practically bursting at the seams. The game looks like a watercolor storybook brought to life. Every area of the game is lovingly detailed; sunlight filters through the trees near the shrine, and the flowers of the wisteria tree sway in the breeze. When the game turns towards darker tones, the artwork becomes delightfully creepy, dark, and even haunting at times. As you move, the world turns almost like you’re traversing a globe, giving the sense that this small slice of land is Sumire’s entire world. The music is absolutely beautiful as well, perfectly matching the tone of the game at every turn.
Life, Love, and Loss
Over the course of the game, Sumire tackles difficult, challenging issues. Not only is she reeling from the loss of her grandmother, but her parents have separated, and she’s lost the companionship of her best friend. To have one special day with the flower spirit, she’ll need to tackle all of these and more, seeing if she can’t right some of the wrongs in her life. These are all things that adults can struggle mightily with, and to experience it all from the perspective of a child is surprisingly poignant. On a personal note, I’ll even admit that the game made me cry, and more than a little. Although it’s been a couple of years since my grandmother passed away, that desire for just one more chance to see her, to get one last chance to talk to her, never goes away. It gets less raw with time, but experiencing it again through the eyes of Sumire left me moved in a way very few video games have ever managed before.
Sumire’s themes are deep and challenging. While the gameplay itself is casual, the story and content are anything but. If you need a game that will tug at your heartstrings and that doesn’t shy away from making you consider difficult subjects, give this surprising little gem a chance.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC; Publisher: GameTomo; Developer: GameTomo; Players: 1; Released: May 27, 2021; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $14.99.
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.