I’ve Got Something in My Eye
The Last Day of June will choke you up. In less than two minutes you will feel emotionally attached to the two main characters in its story, and there is something to be said about that. I’ve played 40-hour campaigns that still had me wondering what kind of character I was controlling by the end of it. So, when I had to watch the two main characters that I’ve somehow become emotionally invested in veer off of a wet road and crash head-first into a wall, my heart sank. I’m not crying, you are.
What a Lovely Couple
The crazy thing about my quick attachment to these two characters is bewildering. They’re not beautifully crafted hi-res models, hell, they don’t even speak (any type of real language, anyway). They resemble Tim Burton style characters; with missing eyes and lanky arm/legs, and seem to be fluent in the language of Simish. But they’re oddly cute in a way. They deeply love each other, and this is all told through their subtle displays of affection.
We are introduced to them while they are enjoying a nice picnic on a dock. The female, June, is handing over a gift to her love, but just as he takes it from her hands, the skies open up and it starts to pour. They rush to the car and decide to head back home instead of waiting out the storm, but the roads are dangerously slippery and the rain is coming down extremely hard. Next thing you know they are driving into a tunnel and the screen turns black.
It’s Groundhog Day
The gameplay stretches over the course of a day, but it’s a day that you’ll get to know very well. As the main character, you’re tasked with trying to change the past by altering the events that lead up to the accident. You do this by taking control of other members of the town. You get to live out their day and see the parts that they’ve played that lead up the the death of June. Once you see what their day consisted of, you get to go back and take control of them to change things up a bit. Think Groundhog Day, but with multiple characters.
Each character’s day is puzzle-like in nature. You can alter small events here and there, and then choose to “end day” to see if the events that you’ve altered stopped the crash. If the day played out the same and resulted in June’s death, you must relive the day and try again. The puzzles are all simplistic and easy to figure out, but as you can imagine, they do get more difficult the further into the game you get.
Once you do figure out how to change a character’s day to change up the event of the crash, another event will happen to cause the crash, just in a different way. This is because changing just one character’s day isn’t enough. Each member of the town needs to work with the other, with the end result being one big puzzle that you must piece together. This works on paper, but seeing all the different ways June can die takes some of the emotion out of the game. Watching her die for the umteenth time in a ridiculously way made me feel like I was watching a Final Destination film, and not playing a dramatic video game.
The Beginning of the End
The end result still worked though. I was pretty emotional when the credits rolled, and that plays greatly to the game’s soundtrack. English musician, Steven Wilson, provides his talents and he doesn’t disappoint. The music is always on point and conveys the emotion needed throughout different portions of the story. The music isn’t overbearing either, which I love. It’s subtle, but it hits hard exactly when it needs to. Fans of Wilson’s work will not be disappointed.
One thing that I’d like to touch on that I really found surprising was the main menu screen. I usually don’t write about something like this, but it was done so well that I feel like I needed to. The transition from choosing to continue your game to the actual game is beautifully done! The menu will overlay an image of the main character sleeping alone in his chair. His glasses are on an end table and his wheelchair is located beside him. When I chose to continue I was expecting a loading screen, but to my surprise the main character woke up and groaned while searching for his glasses. It was so seamless that I didn’t know what to do. I pressed the button to grab the wheelchair and away I went. I loved that!
Warm Blankets and Cocoa
I also think it’s necessary to mention that The Last Day of June can be completed in under three hours. As I previously mentioned, watching June’s death over and over did start to lose it’s emotional impact, but more gameplay would have been welcomed. There are small orbs called “memories” to search for. These flesh out the story and let you in on the lives of each town member, but they’re all really easy to find and there are only 20 of them in total. I was able to find 15 out of the 20, and that’s without going out of my way to search. So, keep that in mind before making a purchase.
I simply loved this game. It’s not going to blow anyone away with it’s amazing gameplay or intricate puzzle design, but it’s guaranteed to shed a few tears (even from guy gamers). Although it only took 3 hours to complete, I was completely satisfied with the experience. Grab a loved one and enjoy this story together.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed), PlayStation 4; Publisher: 505 Games ; Developer: Ovosonico; Players: 1 ; Released: April 5, 2016 ; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of The Last Day of June given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.