Title: Last Day of June
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4
Publisher: 505 Games
Genre: Narrative Adventure
Going into Last Day of June I was well aware of just what type of premise I had signed up for. Many will see this story driven game as they see others in the genre, entirely made up of Walking Simulator Gameplay or “Press E to pay your respects” button prompts. As a story based game though, Last Day of June is one of the most refreshing installments to the genre I have played in recent memory.
The story revolves around a young couple’s love and the time they spend together. We are introduced to the Carl and June’s fairy tail love life, as it is filled with trips to the lake and portraits of their memories painted by June. The tale quickly turns sorrowful though, as an accident robs them of their love.
After a car wreck that took place during a storm whilst returning home from their lake, Carl awakes to a dark an empty house, greeted by nothing but a wheelchair. As I move him around the house, unaware of how the situation got so dire, Carl is drawn to the room where June would paint her portraits.
Through touching one of the old canvases, Carl is transported to the past, and the gameplay mechanic of Last Day of June is revealed. Using some time travel power, I was able to go back in time and relive the events of the day of the accident. These events are lived out through the eyes of each of the different characters introduced early on in the game. A small boy, A neighbor that secretly loves Carl, a gun loving man, and a kind old man.
Once canvases are unlocked, I was able to play as that character and see why the car accident happened. First, it was because the small boy kicked his ball into the road. Similar to most time travel concepts, like Life is Strange, the goal was simple, save June by changing the past. But even after changing the first event, it is revealed that it simply wasn’t enough to stop the accident.
Instead, it is necessary to go into each neighbors portrait and change each individual event, as the Final Destination like day has multiple ways of causing the car accident. While developer Ovosonico simply could have been lazy and made it a linear form of events, instead it’s necessary to backtrack to previous portraits to make everything sync up. While the little boy may not have caused the accident if he plays with his kite, the women will still need the string attached to the kite to cause the boxes to not fall in the road. This clever mechanic resulted in some clever problem solving and puzzles.
One of the downsides comes with that problem solving though. While it will show a shortened version of events already seen, Last Day in June still has a copious amount of time repeating cut scenes when problem-solving. I found myself accidentally ending the day with certain actions (even when there was a prompt) or simply running out of ideas because the real problem was in the other portrait. This resulted in a fair amount of seeing the same beginning and ending scenes that simply weren’t skippable.
Even with that though, I still had plenty of incentive to explore the overworld as Carl and the previous portraits as well, not only to unlock more scenarios, but to find the small collectibles as well. A lot of Last Day of Junes’ world building can be found in these collectibles. Each collectible can only be reached after unlocking a certain path, with some reachable by only certain characters, and picking it up as that specific character. Even though they only contain a simple picture, they tell a small story about the individual that collected them.
Alongside that, Last Day of June does an impressive job telling such a captivating story of love and despair too, all with no actual dialogue. Instead, the characters rely on Sims like gibberish and body language to convey their emotions and feelings, as well as explaining the situation. I will admit that the voices and character designs will take a bit of getting used to, but they become similar to your nose in the middle of your eyes, you eventually see past it.
Couple this magnificent mute story telling with the games beautiful design and music and you can see why the narrative based genre has found such a success with niche audiences like the one I find myself in.
I recommend Last Day of June to anyone that is looking for a unique, heart-wrenching story. Puzzle fiends will also enjoy its creative take on the time traveling element of gameplay, while still providing a touching tale.
Verdict: Last Day of June embodies what the narrative genre is all about. While its core gameplay revolves around weird looking and talking characters, its creative use of backtracking and puzzle solving provide for a thought provoking experience. Though load times may hinder small segments of the game as well, the frustration only comes with wanting to get back to the experience as quick as possible.
- Beautiful art and sound
- Use of backtracking puzzles
- Captivating storytelling
- Use of multiple characters
- Unskippable Cutscenes
- Gibberish and look take getting used to