Always a fan of short character driven narratives, Last Day of June piqued my interest. After finishing my playthrough, I can see why this game comes packaged with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Both games are published by 505 Games, and they both combine emotional story telling with mildly puzzling gameplay. Does Last Day of June live up to the emotional impact it promises?
In Last Day of June, you play as Carl, a man whose partner, June, dies when he loses control of their car. He relives her last day over and over from the perspective of others in the village. This is a desperate attempt to think of how he could change events in order to save her. He soon realizes it is not as simple as he first hoped.
The story is just a few hours but feels compact and complete. Focusing on just the six characters rather than on a long and complex story, Last Day of June carries a strong and emotional impact. In fact, everything in this story is streamlined. There is no dialogue or reading involved, they speak in a kind of "Simlish" instead. However, it is not needed as you understand everything through their body language.
The art is really simple and stylised. The models are big and cartoony, and while you may be put off initially by the lack of eyes you soon come to understand the style choices. The art style is very charming, though the lack of focus on the backgrounds could often strain my eyes. The music is also extremely simplistic, but calming and atmospheric.
Some walking simulators can have problems balancing story and gameplay, but Last Day of June manages this well. While there is a focus on walking and exploration, the map is small. There are memories to discover that unlock the character's background stories, but they are hard to miss and pretty accessible given the small scale of the world. In order to change fate, you often have to solve mildly puzzling elements, but I do mean mild. Even the most puzzle phobic of gamers should solve these in seconds.
My favorite element of gameplay is how the fate of one character often affected the outcomes of others. This means you have to revisit different characters and observe how different aspects of the environment and story have changed. This creates a further level of logic and puzzling to figure out the right path forward.
The only disappointing aspect here for me was the ending. It's hard for me to explain exactly what I disliked about the ending without completely spoiling the story. I read the story as that of a man coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, and I think the developers became scared that consumers would need a happy or satisfying conclusion in order to enjoy it. The sacrifice they made and a reliance on the supernatural prevented this game from achieving greatness. Instead, it settled for something completely mediocre, but safe.
Last Day of June is a game that you will certainly enjoy while you play it. However, the lackluster ending ensures that it will not stay with you long after you've completed it. The small and compact story is perfectly told until this point, and the simplicity of the puzzles does not detract from the pleasing gameplay. It's a shame that the developers did not take a chance with the ending in the same way they did with the art direction.
While short, Last Day of June is a nice story that will capture you for the entirety of your playthrough. However, the ending ensures that the game won't stay with you after you're done.
- Charming Artstyle
- Good Mix of Story and Gameplay
- Narrative Laid Out in Context Rather Than Dialogue
- Safe and Mediocre Ending
- Lack of Value