Last Day of June paints itself a gorgeous picture, coupling a stop-motion aesthetic with a dream-like painterly world. Every frame is hazy, blanketing you in the surreal miasma. The score is equally as pleasant, with beautiful acoustic tones and arrangements designed to draw out your most raw emotions.
The game follows a man who loses his wife in a car crash and must traverse the memories of those around him to find closure. This involves exploring the day leading up to the moment of her passing in the lives of numerous characters. The gameplay here is fairly simple. Kind of like a puzzle adventure game but stripped back and rather easy, in compliment to the strong narrative loop behind it. You take your time solving each characters conundrum and in theory, saving your wife’s life, only to find that the butterfly effect means another accident will cause the tragic scene.
I started to predict the premise and flow of the game at this point. That the core message would be, just like every other ‘Butterfly Effect’ movie; that you can’t change time and that you have to learn to accept an awful situation.
However, it’s much more complex than that. I can’t and won’t go any further about the story because it’s beautiful and absolutely necessary to experience. Make no mistake, Last Day of June is a powerful, emotional title on the same shelf as That Dragon, Cancer and Gone Home, to name a few.
The mini vignettes and dioramas in the post-crash world are really quite jarring and moving, and I found the game used its medium very effectively to portray grief and loss. Each character in the hamlet has collectable idents telling a sombre story from their past, kind of like the mental vaults in Psychonauts, and the puzzles are simple but moving, revealing themselves in a natural way that is seriously pleasing and feels connected to the story, like a building problem that becomes too much to bear, representative of the main character’s anxieties and fears.
The township that you control are connected to Carl and June in thoughtful, clever ways and though there is no dialogue in Last Day of June, you’ll be surprised by the amount of emotion heard in their almost Simlish vocals, managing to get Joy and Anguish across to the player with ease.
Whilst the score is great throughout, there was a moment where a bird came to steal a medal and an almost Muse-esque powerful drum heavy track played and it felt slightly out of place. I think a more animation style moment by moment score would have worked better here, but this is a small bump in this very smooth road!
The game lasts about 4-6 hours depending on how long you want to get lost in this gorgeous environment, but that doesn’t mean the scenes will fade quickly from your memory. I’ve found myself daydreaming and musing on many of the games important messages days after I finished it. It’s clear there is a startling amount of passion in this project. In regards to replayability, it is totally worth another run after you finish purely so you can catch all of the collectibles and reflect on what you may have missed.
If you’re looking for a moving game that is bursting with passion and a narrative you may never forget, you will want to pick up Last Day of June and get lost in its melancholic whimsy. The game drops on Steam and PS4 this August 31.
This copy of Last Day of June was provided by Alfred PR. Our Editor-In-Chief Jordan Oloman spent 6 hours exploring a dreamlike mindscape and many more wanting to stay there playing with his kite.