App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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It's easy to look at Sumire and be cynical about it. Everything about it is contrived to build up to an emotional climax that you can see from miles away. Any yet, it's hard not to feel touched by the game's story and its simple message, thanks in no small part to the gorgeous presentation that brings this small world to life.
A day in the life
Sumire starts with the titular character waking from a dream about their late grandmother, who she clearly misses and regrets not doing or talking more with. This leads into an eventful day ushered in by a mysterious and magical talking flower that Sumire stumbles upon in her living room.
This sets off an adventure where Sumire has a single day to show her flower friend as much about her life as possible while making choices on how to learn and grow from her current life experiences along the way. This flower can only live for one day, so it becomes important to Sumire not to waste any daylight while trying to accomplish her goals.
Sumire's adventure ends up playing out a lot like a linear 2D adventure game complete with some light puzzle-solving. There are some random side-quests you can discover as well, and both those and the main story feature a lot of dialog options. The dilemmas thrown Sumire's way aren't exactly nuanced (most boil down to "do you want to be nice or mean to this person"), but these choices add up and inform the ending of the story.
Despite the simplicity of the choices, it's fun to see what kinds of predicaments Sumire finds herself in. All told, it's a very eventful day, full of romantic quandaries, bully confrontation, familial strife, and more. Most of these scenes are well-written and have a cute sense of humor and earnestness that makes each story beat a compelling read.
Sumire isn't a particularly long or difficult game, though there are a few times where you might need to wait around for the flower to tell you what to do as the game's initial guidance isn't always very clear. There are also a few moments in the game where the choices laid before you actually aren't clear. I wish I could say it was because of some subtlety in the game's writing, but the stakes are so small in these moments and so inconsistent with the rest of the writing that they feel like accidental outliers rather than intentional departures from the core formula.
Anyway, the story is by-and-large very enjoyable mostly because of Sumire's tremendous art and emotive soundtrack. Even if you don't know where to go or what to do, being in the game is such a gift for the senses. Its presentation also heightens the effect of its story, which--while entirely predictable--is an enjoyable parable about appreciating the time and people that you have while you have them.
The bottom line
There's nothing entirely groundbreaking about Sumire, but everything it does is so beautiful that it's hard not to get swept into its world. You won't regret letting this game charm you, even if a few chuckles and a misty-eyed finale is all you end up getting out of it.