Last Day of June: Dull groundhog (warning of spoilers)
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
Last Day of June....must be the complete opposite to Dark Souls 3. Unlike the grand extremely long dark fantasy epic of DS3 we have a small short narrative game with minimal game play and focus on said story as well as being indie rather than AAA. A bright colourful world of nice people doing normal stuff instead of a harrowing nightmare into madness with nice (?) people doing really bad things to stay alive and not go mad, an interesting contrast to say the least but is it a good game? Let’s find out shall we....
Last Day of June tells the story of a happily married couple, we learn that it is the husband’s birthday and they are celebrating it with a romantic day by the lake. A rain storm cuts the romance short and tragedy strikes in the form of a car accident which results in the death of the wife (known as June) and the husband confined to a wheel chair, the game then follows the husband trying to come to terms with the accident and wanting to change the events so June could survive. The game then focuses on the members of the village going about the day of the tragedy changing small things to make the outcome different. The story is told, rather bravely through the tone of voice and body language and it does work most of the time. The voice acting really does hit the emotional centre sometimes and it quite powerful mostly. The key word here sadly is “sometimes” as there is no dialogue, only a Simlish language, the body language and tone. While this is daring it makes every character two dimensional. We do not even get names for the characters asides from June because of a diary found at the end of the game. Which again is adventurous but fails to build any long term connection with the characters, they only have the obvious traits and not much else.
Game play is not much, just button prompts and walking, there is a sprint function which always makes me happy in a game that requires walking. There is some light problem solving in opening up the world and getting character X something Y and doing I and B to get Y, it is not really hard and just requires logic and exploration. There are also 5 collectables for each of four village folk, it amounts to nothing asides achievements. While it is not bad it is just somewhat boring. It does not stimulate the senses and the story does not do enough to engage.
Graphics are not really what one would call top notch; textures are blurry and somewhat basic. The art style itself is really good, bright and colourful with a touch of autumn colour, the characters themselves look like wooden dolls with shallow dents for eyes, and they cannot express emotion through facial expressions but through extravagant movements and body language. I do get the feeling the devs were taking a risk and trying something new and there are times it really does work. Because the voice acting is great and the animations are really well done. However the bond grows weaker as the game progresses because we are only given tonal gibberish and body movements, the longer I played the less involved I was in the story and characters because of that disconnect.
Let’s talk about the ending, be warned of spoilers in the next two paragraphs please.
As we get to the end we learn that each time the husband tries to remember events June still dies, there is nothing he can do. This culminates in the final villager (An old man who delivers the Present that starts the series of events leading to June’s death). In a rather interesting twist the memory tries to prevent the old man from reaching the house by blocking him off. The memory gets more and more desperate until the village itself begins to break apart, you hear June crying as we solve each and every obstacle the memory throws at you. It is really effective as game play complementing story as well as delivering a gut punch both to the player and to the husband because he cannot save her, no matter how hard he tries.
This would have worked brilliantly as an ending if the game actually ended. Instead it decides to keep going and draw a Deus Ex Marina out of its ass with him going back in time (somehow) and swapping seats with June on that fatal day insuring that he dies instead of her. This could have worked and I can see what the devs were doing for but because my investment in the characters could only go so far as well as the manipulative feeling the ending had, I was not invested, only bored because the game was outstaying its six to eight hour runtime. The ending left me cold and very disappointed in the dev’s refusal to stick to the sad poignant ending the game deserved.
Last day of June does have its moments and is not the worst thing you can do to yourself on a lazy Sunday. But the potential for better things are just under the hood but are never taken advantage of. It is a decent game that could have been done so much better.
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