Every little moment leading up to our own life-changing events must play out exactly the way they did for these very situations to occur. Regardless of the reasoning or intention, it’s not always about the choices that we make but rather about being in a certain place at a certain time.
It can be an encouraging theory, especially when the thought of first meeting a loved one springs to mind. Unfortunately, the same can also be said on the other side of the spectrum. One that leads to grief, followed by ifs, buts, and maybes on how a tragic event can or can’t be prevented. It’s the angst of such questions and situations, where Last Day Of June truly cuts in at its deepest.
We start out with a young couple, basking in every moment of each other’s company with not a single second ever being taken for granted. It is clear to see, even in the first few moments of the story, that the absence of eyes and a mouth aren’t necessary to drive forward emotion or character within its narrative. Nor is the need of a common language for that matter, as a simple gobbledygook selection of sounds can steer the mood and motive in the right direction.
We already know what’s going to happen here, and it is the why, the who, and the how that first seems evidently the most important. In Last Day Of June, you are given the chance to manipulate alternative possibilities in an effort to change the outcome. By analysing different angles of the last few hours of that fateful day, you get to dig deeper into the background of a small handful of locals.
As soon as you are introduced to the cast of characters, you instantly make judgements and assumptions based on your first impressions. This is where the story is at its strongest as you delve into each character’s core personalities, desperately trying to steer each one towards a more positive conclusion. Even its ending shouldn’t be taken completely at face value, which is something that I will certainly avoid going into here. Or anything else to do with its plot for that matter, because Last Day Of June is best to be explored knowing as little as possible.
What I will tell you is that this little story driven puzzler will force you to relive its outcome countless times. It is an element of the story that you could easily get fed up with, but there’s something about this particular design choice that seems wholly intentional. After all, some thoughts are impossible to shake off regardless of how hard you try.
It may sound all doom and gloom, but in fact, there’s a lot here to smile about. Even the character designs themselves can seem a bit on the morbid side at first. Yet for some reason, it all still manages to win you over by how much it bristles with personality. The colours of the season set a mood of beauty, while the painterly filter that holds it all into place is there for more reasons than to just look pretty. Even the more frustrating sections can have value and motive as if to convince you to fall in line with its message.
However, it is not a perfect game by any means. The framerate can tend to be all over the place at times, and some may find it hard to maintain patience due to the game’s repetitive nature. There are also some moments that require guesswork too, especially towards the end. But again, this element can easily have been purposely put in place for that very reason. Despite being a bit muddy around the edges, Last Day Of June is a very attractive game to look at. It also sounds fantastic too, with subtle tones of mellow grace that fits in with the mood of the season in which it takes place nicely.
Last Day Of June is a short but satisfying tale that uses the Groundhog Day formula to immerse you in a touching and thoughtful way. It’s clear to see that the game’s core inspiration has been taken from Steven Wilson’s haunting but beautifully animated music video “Drive Home,” which is something that constantly looms in the background. Yet while it doesn’t shy away from very serious real-world situations, it also doesn’t tastelessly sink you too deep into its dark depressive undertones either. It has a clever approach, especially considering the choice of medium that it uses, which is all so beautifully and carefully constructed to tell you its story.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by 505 Games