SUMMERHOUSE Review – Build Your Bliss


With spring in the air, now is the time to start daydreaming about that idyllic country life everyone says they want. Designing your own cozy house, living in a little village with a population of eight, and a ramshackle but charming main street with cafes where you can sit in the sun. I went to school somewhere like this, and I can assure you, you do not want it. Instead, you want SUMMERHOUSE from solo developer Friedemann. It captures the dreamy aspects of that aspiration without the need to uproot your entire life.

SUMMERHOUSE (yes, it is all capitalized) allows you to visit four different environments. You can put together buildings any way you want. There is a set stretch of land to create on but you can go back again and again to create new little macrocosms of life. The four landscapes you can create your scenes in are as follows: the countryside, the outskirts of a city, the woods, and the desert. You can also toggle between day, night, and rain.

SUMMERHOUSE hobbity home
Image Credit: Friedemann.

It’s a very simple game. Down the left side of the screen is a menu of design elements you can use to create your houses and landscapes. As you plan your perfect kitschy streets, walls, roofs, doors, windows, decorations, and greenery are all available to you. There are no objectives or missions. There are unlockable blocks and elements, but you will almost certainly unlock them simply by playing. Steam achievements are also available, but again, they can be achieved simply by playing for long enough.

Cool for the SUMMERHOUSE

There’s no story or plot to SUMMERHOUSE. Unless you want there to be. Who’s to say what weird little worlds you can think up and populate in your brain for the sparse citizens of your creations? Does that guy leaning out of the window know that woman on the payphone? Yes, there are payphones, which delighted me for a reason I cannot fathom (I am old). What I’m saying is that it’s fun to pretend. Or not. You can simply build and perfect your tiny houses for hours on end. There’s no right way to play.

Which is good because I started going off-piste with my buildings after several hours. I realized I could create avant-garde architecture that sits in the middle of a forest that, if real, would spark a low-budget horror film. A skinny stone tower with no doors or windows that has a single payphone on top of it. Rough-hewn stone houses with Hobbiton-esque doors. Tiny rock abodes with tiny windows and a sign that says “Café.” Abandoned ruins with a single plastic chair in the middle of them. I am sure this says more about me than anything else. You can also place blocks in the sky, leading to many floating stone steps and weirdness in my session.

SUMMERHOUSE tower to phone
Image Credit: Friedemann.

There isn’t an expansive library of building blocks and embellishments available to you, but there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for hours. There are over 20 unlockable blocks, some featuring people and animals that will bring more life to your creations if you want it. I spent five hours tweaking and recreating my little environments but still haven’t unlocked half the unlockables.

Another aspect of SUMMERHOUSE that literally gives it more depth is the ability to build in the back and foreground. You can press Q and E to move forward or backward in the environment to place blocks and decorations, allowing you to bring an extra dimension to your scenes. You can flip assets on the horizontal axis but not vertically. I would like the ability to rotate objects just to add a bit of flair and variety to placement, which is currently missing.

SUMMERHOUSE forest 711
Image Credit: Friedemann.

Wrapping Up

SUMMERHOUSE is all about vibes. It’s designed to take you to a quiet place where you can create without burdens or obligations. Whether you are basking in the sunshine of the countryside, constructing in the electric glow of lights at night, or creating weird towers to nowhere in the forest, it’s a relaxing, creative experience that can be revisited over and over. I hope Friedemann can add more to the game. Whether it’s blocks or biomes or longer stretches to build in, I want reasons to stay a little longer.

SUMMERHOUSE is available now on Steam.

SUMMERHOUSE Review – Build Your Bliss
SUMMERHOUSE is a vibe-filled experience where I can design to my heart's desire, but I can't help but wish there was more reasons to keep coming back.
Pure creativity.
Lots of variety and replayability.
Could use a few more design features like object rotation.
Limited space in each location for building.
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Written by Emma Oakman

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