‘Last Day Of June’ Review: A Tragedy Redefined
If you could go back to a point of time to change the eventual outcome, would you? Knowing all that you know, and risking all that you are, would it be worth it to challenge fate? If you could risk it all to save the person you love from a tragic end, no matter the consequences, would you do it? That is the premise of the new game by developer Ovosonico, Last Day of June. The player goes on an emotional journey, reliving a tragic day over and over, trying desperately to make the needed changes to how it all plays out in the attempt to save the life of your wife and save you from a life confined to a wheelchair.
Last Day of June is the story of Carl and June, a young couple in a quaint rural village. Carl and June are in love, and the player truly experiences that love by looking at a series of paintings scattered around the young couple’s house. June is a painter, and she loves to paint the residents of the village, including her best friend, who holds a secret; a bored kid with no one to play with; a wealthy hunter, who lives in the shadow of his deceased father, and a lonely old man, who lost his wife and now lives out the remainder of his days helping around the village. All of these characters’ lives have a hint of sadness to them, and all are woven together in an emotional tapestry to tell the greater story of the Last Day of June.
Carl’s world is destroyed after a terrible car accident takes June — and the use of his legs — leaving the once happy man broken. One night he is given a chance to relive the day of the crash by changing the actions of the townspeople, who inadvertently caused the accident. Carl has to change the events that led up to the crash, and each time he goes back, he thinks he is closer to somehow bringing back his love. But the game has something else in store for the player.
Visually And Aurally Stunning
The art design in Last Day of June resembles a painting that has come to life, and the use of stunning colors in this rustic setting elevates the game as a whole. The action on the day that is relived over and over takes place in the late afternoon/early evening, so the sun creates deep orange hues in the sky that are powerful to the eye. The character models, who have no facial features, other than shadows signifying the eye sockets, are simple and effective. So much is conveyed with a simple look, and the characters speak in grunts, whimpers, and other simple sounds, yet the players fully understands what is being said.
Last Day of June uses the music of Steven Wilson as its inspiration, and the melancholy songs are used to the greatest effect throughout the game. This soundtrack propels Last Day of June into a completely different gaming experience. This is no longer a simple contextual “go here, click that” type of game. Wilson’s music, and the artists at Ovosonico have created a work of art in and of itself, and the art design and music compliment each other and belong together, just like Carl and June.
A Punch To The Gut
Make no mistake: the Last Day of June is not a happy game. A cloud of sadness hangs over every action, as the player knows the eventual outcome. As Carl makes the correct changes in the lives of the townsfolk to try and save his wife, the story squeezes the player’s heart more and more, as the realization of what is happening begins to dawn on the player. Themes of fate vs. freewill begin to surface, and a pretty straightforward game begins to downturn into a psychology research study. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; when was the last time a game made the player think and feel like this? That is the true power of the Last Day of June. This is more than just a simple game, and players who have completed the 4-5 hour adventure can easily fall into conversations with one another about what they just played and what it meant to them personally. That’s pretty amazing coming from a little indie game like this.
Last Day of June takes the player through an emotional ride of loss. Ovosonico invited the player in with a gorgeous game and some wonderful music, and then forces them to relive the worst day in the protagonist’s life over and over, to the point of frustration. But in the end, the heart and brain are treated to a wonderful story that will resonate well after the controller has been set down, and console is shut off. Games should inspire the player to do better and be better — not just in the game, but in life itself, and in a way, the Last Day of June does that. How it inspires is completely up to you.
Last Day of June is available now for the PS4 and Steam. This review is based off a review code provided by 505 games.
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