What would you do for love? Last Day of June explores a couple, Carl and June where life is tragically cut short. This isn’t a spoiler as it is the premise and in the trailer. In the aftermath, Carl struggles to deal with the events that transpired that day. It’s a tale of loss, love, and hope. One that requires suspension of disbelief through its brief emotional journey it takes you on.
In Last Day of June, none of the characters that appear speak no real dialogue or words, just mumble in short sentences. Each character looks like they are carved out of wood. They also don’t have any eyes, which is slightly disturbing at first. Emotion is said to be told through the eyes, by removing that, the game has to express emotions differently, and does so through movement and other storytelling practices. With powerful blues and oranges, Last Day of June looks like an oil painting come to life.
After the initial events take place, the game reveals that Carl has the ability to go back in time, allowing him to work towards potentially saving his wife June from the misfortune that ended hers and disrupted his, placing him into a wheelchair. The hows and whys to the time travel aren’t relevant. There’s four characters that interconnected, and not long into it, you’re able to see how the pieces fall into place that fateful day. Each character has their own sadness that led to their involvement: the kid who doesn’t have anyone to play with, the best friend who is secretly in-love with Carl, the hunter who wants to get a family heirloom back, and the old man who misses his own loved one. By changing one thing, you affect another, which serves its own purpose of storytelling.
The game thankfully expedites the process of replaying a “day” as you complete elements of it. You will see a lot of the same scenes again and again, and can’t skip any of them in favor of moving things along. Last Day of June goes down every avenue and possibility surrounding the events that transpire, and offer really interesting back story elements from pickups around the level, that require multiple characters to open up the environment to allow them to be accessed.
Controlling any character in the game is simplistic, and there are interactive prompts for certain actions. There’s a lot of gates, almost to an amusing degree as no one can reach over to unlock it for themselves, even the old man who has a cane. There’s a lot of backtracking as you work to align each of the characters into the right scenario that helps them but progresses the objective of working to save June from her demise. As you play, Carl becomes increasingly frustrated at how things change but the outcome stays the same. You can see the defeat in his face and actions. There’s even some phrasing changes on the interactive prompts.
Given the three and a half hours it took me to play the game, it feels like a movie or a play. Unfortunately, its emotional impact is undercut by the things that cause June’s death being replayed, but it is no doubt is wracking with guilt as you get it wrong. This is an experience, and its adaptation from short films to an interactive medium carries a bit more weight as you are in control of actions or inactions of the characters. Last Day of June is a sweet, cute, and touching game that nails home the feeling of loss, but the hope of love.
A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes