15th Sep2017

‘Last Day of June’ Review (PS4)

by Paul Metcalf

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I don’t often start a review with a spoiler warning, but this time I feel I should. If you’ve not played Last Day of June, it is best to play it through before reading a review. If you are willing to have minor spoilers that will inevitably leak through, then you have been warned. Suffice to say, Last Day of June is a beautiful game that should be played.

It seems that while some bigger Triple A games are caught in the trap of having to focus on what is known to be profitable, independent titles have some space to manoeuvre in what they provide to the audience they cater for. This is why we see many with a focus on emotions, and creating an experience for the player that is beyond just point and shoot, or solve a puzzle to continue.

This is where Last Day of June finds its strength, this is a game that takes emotions that we can all understand, and expertly weaves them around the narrative to capture the player. There is a depressive feel about Last Days of June, because you know what is coming. Even in this depression though, there is also a beauty that only love can bring.

Last Day of June is the story of Carl, who is madly in love with his partner. In many ways, the life we are introduced to is reminiscent of the one created in the opening of Up! We are shown two people very much in love, and then a tragedy occurs that leaves Carl all alone with only his memories.

What makes Carl special is that he has the ability to go back to the day that the tragedy happened, and try to change time to bring his loved one back. This is done through the lives of six people, and some animals. Travelling to each of the character’s past, we look at how they influenced Carl’s day, and then we manipulate them into not playing a part of the tragedy.

Looking at what pulls the player into the game, much of this comes down to the art design. The Claymation style graphics are beautiful, though the eyeless sockets for the characters at first seem strange. This is interesting though, because in story terms, communication is normally done through a few ways. Two of these are through speech and through eye contact.

In the game, the characters speak a Sims like language that the player doesn’t understand, yet we still pick up the story easily. Everything that we need is done through body language, and in many ways, we make up the story as we go along, which again hooks the player and keeps them engaged. Carl (and the player) is the director in a story that has a sad inevitability, but we are forced to keep on trying to change the past, because that is what Carl needs.

One thing that did affect my enjoyment of the game is the fact there is no skip button, which in some places it does need. The game decides itself which bits to skip, and which parts the player has to live through again and again as they jump around characters manipulating little pieces of Carl’s story to make a change in the future. It forces you to relive the tragedy, further emphasising the emotions, no matter how much you’d like to stop repeating it over and over again.

Last Day of June is a good little adventure game that manages to convey emotions, while also giving the gamer what they want, an actual gaming experience. For those worried, this isn’t just another walking simulator, there are elaborate puzzles that have to be solved, and with more than one character. These are well thought out and presented in a way that doesn’t feel laborious.

While Last Day of June may have released at a busy time of the gaming year, it is a game that shouldn’t be missed. When taking a break from some of the bigger titles that are vying for your time, this little game may be just what you need to relax a bit, and enjoy a good story, because in the end that is what Last Day of June is, a very good story. Oh, and don’t forget to watch until the very end of the credits, it’s worth it.

**** 4/5

Last Day of June is available on PC and PlayStation 4 now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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