I’ll start this review by getting the obvious observation (that everyone has already made) out of the way. Why is this game called Last Day of June if it was released on August 31st? I hate it when titles lie. Seriously though, the titular June is a young artist who tragically died in a traffic accident, one fateful day, on the way back from a romantic picnic. In this game players assume the role of June’s lover Carl. The bespectacled baldy was in the car when June passed away. Although he survived the crash, Carl sustained injuries that have confined him to a wheelchair. How depressing. Thankfully when Last Day of June begins Carl acquires the power of time travel. Can he use his new ability to undo the tragedy or will he discover that altering history is impossible?
Last Day of June’s intro sees Carl uncover four mystical portraits that depict his neighbours. Touching the watercolours transports Carl to the date when June perished and gives him control over the painting’s model. By possessing said villagers players need to find a way of averting the fatal collision. Sounds simple enough, but sadly the past is not so easily manipulated. Every time an event is tweaked some new disaster occurs that kills June. Early on I was able to keep the kid, whose dash across the highway caused the crash, away from the scene. This was accomplished by having him play with a kite elsewhere. Job done? Nope. In the new timeline June dies swerving off road to evade a cardboard box spillage further up the street. Those things are deadly, as Solid Snake will attest to.
At its core, Last Day of June is a third person puzzle game. You pick a character, use their unique skills to solve brainteasers and then see how your handiwork impacts June’s future. The little rascal I mentioned above for example is too scrawny to open heavy gates, but his short stature allows him to squeeze through fence holes. Another character of note is the local hunter, who has to use his faithful hound and a musket to chase after a medal-pilfering bluebird. Meanwhile the blonde with the nice rack can clear away slippery leaves. Um, did I say rack? I mean she uses her nice rake to clear away said foliage. Aside from the puzzles there are also collectables to locate, which reveal snippets of each character’s backstory.
My rating for Last Day of June is four stars. The gameplay is clunky, load times are long and the inability to skip cut scenes can be annoying, but it matters not because the emotional storyline is beautiful. It’s remarkable how expressive the characters are, in spite of the fact that their dialogue is limited to Sims style gibberish. Each time Carl is unsuccessful in rescuing June his rage and despair are palpable. I think the game’s soundtrack helps to accentuate the onscreen drama. The music’s quality should come as no surprise given that Carl’s tale is based off a Steven Wilson tune. Visually the game is impressive too. I dug the stop motion marionette like character designs and how the environments have an oil painting aesthetic to them.
Unless you have no heart I can highly recommend Last Day of June. Buyers will however have to deliberate if they wish to pay now for a title that can be finished within a few hours, or wait for a future price discount. Given the title’s linear structure there isn’t much replay value once you reach the ending. Watching the game via a Let’s Play would suffice for most people, although I think that walking a mile in Carl’s shoes and solving the game’s conundrums yourself adds to the experience. Technical niggles aside, developer Ovosonico deserve praise for a job well done. I’m so awed that I’ll forgive them for the deceptive title. Last Day of June? The game came out in August! Ovosonico why did July to us? May god forgive your fib. Okay the review is done, time to march off.