True to the success of recent emotional indie games, Last Day of June is a bit like a playable version of Disney’s heart-wrenching film UP. A puzzle adventure game which incorporates the ability to rewind time and fix your mistakes, Last Day of June is certainty an experience.
Last Day of June tells the story of Carl and June’s last day together before an unfortunate accident wrenches the two apart, resulting in June’s death and leaving Carl wheelchair bound and consumed by grief. Following the accident, Carl is plagued with nightmares of isolation and sorrow. Awakening with a flicker of hope that June will still be beside him, only to realise with a heavy heart that his nightmares have become his reality.
Exploration of the house upon awakening shows the effect that the loss of June has had on our spectacle-wearing protagonist. The house is dark, the fridge is bare and all of June’s beautiful paintings have been locked away, too painful to look at. Pulled into June’s workshop by an ever-present longing, Carl soon notices her paintings are glowing. A closer look reveals depictions of village residents who all had a part to play in the car accident which resulted in June’s death. Moving over to each painting in turn Carl will be given the chance to first ‘Remember’ June and then ‘Save Her’.
Ovosonico’s story heavily emphasises the importance of the butterfly effect, a branch of chaos theory which suggests that one tiny action can result in a catastrophic event later down the line. Playing as each of the characters in the painting and altering their actions on the day of June’s death allows the player to twist the story and alter June’s untimely fate. The exploration of the villagers’ lives gives us a deeper insight into the relationships and connections in this fictional town. Although Carl does not talk, his wordless babbling clearly displays frustration upon awakening to find he is still alone and still unable to walk.
Visually the game is stunning. A watercolour work of art which is reflective of June’s career as an artist in which the colour palate will alter alongside the story. Strong hues of red and orange which highlight the happiness of Carl and June before the accident quickly turn to midnight blues and dark purples which emphasise Carl’s sadness and loss afterwards. Last Day of June wants the player to be put in the shoes of Carl, to feel his frustration and sadness through the games environment. A moving musical score also plays a key part in Ovosonico’s story, and acts as a driving force throughout the game, small touches to the score foreshadow events and actions which will have significant impact on the plot.
Unfortunately, the idea of rewinding the game to constantly right your actions does become a little bit tedious, especially if you slip up along the way. The idea behind the game doesn’t feel especially new either, especially with games such as Until Dawn and Life is Strange also exploring the butterfly effect and chance to correct mistakes via a rewind. Last Day of June also becomes very predictable once you’ve played as the first character, you must change their day to save June, copy and repeat. Although a fun idea, the way that it has been pulled off could have been improved.
Overall Last Day of June is a memorable and emotional story, one that will pull on your heart strings and leave you with teary eyes. But at times the game also feels tedious, potentially putting a damper on the experience. However, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with an interactive and heart-warming few hours with Carl and June. One of 2017’s stand out games for sure.