Last Day of June

Originally published: 2 November 2018.

Black Friday is a good time for deals and I certainly was glad for it this year. Other than purchases I needed to make, I also got a few games. Last Day of June had been sitting on my wishlist for half a year. 

What would you if you got a second chance at redoing something that went wrong? How much would you grasp at it, especially if someone you love is at stake? This is what Last Day of June is about. Spoilers follow.

  • Bittersweet  atmosphere, a universal, relatable experience of  loss and grief; great contrast between an idyllic village and Carl’s storm of emotions
  • immersive gameplay  with time reversal mechanics exploring cause and effect
  • beautiful ost

Last Day of June is a lovely adventure which explores a familiar topic executed with proper finesse.  Can you change the outcome of a tragic event, how far are you willing to go for someone else? And perhaps most of all what is it that you want to change? Or, rather, what CAN you change?

Carl and his wife have a sweet life together. The initial sequence made me think back to the movie UP. They are totally lost in each other and their own little world. Until an accident happens.

Then Carl is given a sort of a gift: he can touch paintings and the ability to change the things that may have in some way contributed to his tragedy, little things that happened to others in the neighbourhood, things on which he may blame the accident. As we look for solutions to the problems around the neighbourhood, we feel Carl’s quiet hope that maybe if this changes, then the result for him may change too. After all, this chance to make things right wouldn’t just be given for nothing, right?

You know what it’s like in point and click adventure games: you take this, remove that, combine, solve a puzzle, remove an obstacle and things change. Well, here, I had this feeling that the character believes that a lot rides on him rearranging things to solve problems. I thought that along with him: that we can actually do something, that perhaps it matters if this were different…the actions give Carl some inkling of hope. It plays on the what-ifs we may ask ourselves, like what if the dog wasn’t there or what if I removed that pile of leaves? What if I came back earlier or didn’t answer that doorbell? It’s meaningful in that it shows how small unrelated events may affect each other and, even more so, how at certain times, we may wish they had been different – they are things we might be inclined to put blame on in misery. But no matter how much he tries, who else he helps, his own situation does not seem to change. A sense of desperation and frustration builds up slowly until it reaches a boiling point. But there is a twist at the end.

The game does what it promises, putting us in the shoes of a character whose pain and hope we experience. But who is who and what, if anything, our game actions accomplish is left for me to think about after the game.

The game uses a fantasy concept to look vividly and immersively at grief and acceptance of it, coming to terms with what happened, dealing with what-ifs and denial. Ultimately, it is life and love affirming.

There are no dialogues, the whole game is done through visual storytelling and tones – characters emit voices but nothing intelligible.

The atmosphere changes from lovely/warm through a sense of loss and desperation, a sense of the world falling apart, it’s such a vivid portrayal of grief as far as I’m concerned. There is a lot of pure feeling in it, especially warmth at the start (kinda like UP)  which changes to mourning, sadness, determination, desperation and the final despair. We go through a whole range of emotions in this affecting game.  The contrast between the idyllic, peaceful town and the feelings of the protagonist is sharp and for me noteworthy too.

Upon finishing, the title hit me with a variety of meanings it might suggest. This is what a good title does, it is like a hat, a crown that encapsulates and gives a proper label to the whole thing. It’s very fitting.

I just wish a little more was done to other characters and how they were impacted by the central event in the long run; as far as I’m concerned, the game had a lot more potential. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful, more or less 5 hour-long engrossing adventure

The OST by Steve Wilson is really atmospheric  – fans of the artist will lilkely recognize the tracks as apparently, they are outros or expansions from his existing pieces. For me, it was a great intro to the artist.

It is a game that evokes emotion and is ultimately warm in spirit – which is why it ends up on my list of worthwhile games.

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