Change the future, change the past.
The Last Day of June is a game I had never heard of before aside from a mild passing. I looked up some pictures once it was assigned to me for review and thought to myself “ok this has a nice pastel color and animation thing going for it”, but I didn’t know what sort of game it was at all. I sat myself down, grabbed my controller, and began this heartwarming tale that shows developers can tell an emotional journey without saying a word.
Fixing the past
Players will find themselves controlling Carl, a character who doesn’t speak except for gibberish noises along with the rest of the cast. While in most games this is used for comical effect, here it seems to be to enable the player to interpret what they might be trying to say, through body animations and expressions. Carl can be seen as a caring man, one that loves his wife June, and all this is conveyed without a single word of English spoken. That’s how I know they nailed its story telling through emotion, and that’s all within the first 10 minutes or so, it only gets more intense as it goes.
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
How long to beat: 4-5 hours depending on skill
After a seemingly wonderful day with June, tragedy strikes and what was once a colorful, playful, and uplifting moment turns sad, depressing, and sober in a moment’s flash. Carl is home, now bound to a wheel chair, and everything in a darkened state. Carl awakens to memories of his wife and he suddenly finds himself relieving that day over and over again, but through other people’s eyes. He will have to control these other characters, experiencing the day as they saw it, and attempt to change the past in order to change his future.
Doing so requires players to find and alter what occurred that day for those characters. The day can play out the same as it did before and the tragedy will strike again, yet now with this knowledge time can be rewound, starting over and players will find themselves looking for anything they can alter in the process to correct it. It’s a tried and true time altering aspect and gameplay mechanic seen before, but this time filled with emotion. It’s not about saving the world, it’s about saving a loved one.
An experience retold again
As a game, The Last Day of June is repetitive, slow going, and at times absolutely depressing. Getting stuck trying to solve a puzzle can make that process feel even slower. The repeating story and nature of the themes at play lead to having to experience a lot of the same scenes again and again with seemingly no way to skip them. A blemish on an otherwise solid story telling experience. As a game, there isn’t all that much to it and can easily be played by many, but as a story telling emotional experience, it doesn’t get much better that this. I began the game thinking this was something completely different than my expectation lead me to believe. Shortly after the intro moments, when I realized that The Last Day of June wasn’t a title about the end of summer but the last day of a person’s life, the reality set in that this was going to be an emotional rollercoaster, and it surely is.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.