Last Day of June stood out as the Most Memorable game of E3 2017 because it felt like an experience that I had not had in my lifetime of gaming. I talked about it a little bit in my impressions article from E3, but I think it is important to mention again that Last Day of June is a gaming experience for everyone. The developers wanted to create an experience not only for gamers, but for those who may not like gaming. The team wants Last Day of June to be a beautiful and emotional form of art, and based on my preview of the beginning chapters of the game, I know that they have accomplished that and more.
For this preview, I will be talking about the first few chapters of the game, along with some puzzle and story elements. There is a lot to discuss, so I will go ahead and warn you that there will be SPOILERS for the beginning of the game. With that being said, let’s go ahead and talk about Last Day of June.
The game begins with our protagonist, Carl, and his lovely wife June. They are enjoying a picturesque day on the lake. The scene is absolutely beautiful, and sets the tone for what will be an emotional journey for Carl. It’s incredible to see the love and care they have for each other because the game does not feature any dialogue. The characters don’t have distinguishing features or facial expressions. Yet the developers somehow create this picturesque scene with music, color, and movements that each character makes. In the first couple of minutes, you absolutely know that they love and care for each other.
In a bit of bad timing, June gives Carl a gift, but he can’t open it due to an incoming storm. After you run to the car, we get a flashback to events leading to your journey to the lake. We control June as she receives the present she will give to Carl and help her find a spot to put it. The game gives you some options as to wear to put the gift. I figured out pretty quickly that text options with a question mark may not be the correct choice. Eventually, I took June to an upstairs room where she sees a picture of their spot on the lake. She decides then and there to take Carl to the lake to give her present. Again, this is not said with dialogue, but you can tell with the movements of the characters. There is something going on with June that I won’t spoil her, but just be warned that it makes the upcoming events even more tragic.
You see, as they leave the lake and drive away, the screen goes black and we appear next to Carl. He is having a nightmare…and then it hits us. We hear the sounds of a car accident. As he wakes up and pulls up a wheelchair, we now know that tragedy struck Carl and June. June is gone, Carl is in a wheelchair, and life is not the same. The house that was once warmly lit is now dark and cold. Walls featuring beautiful paintings created by June are now bare. Life is difficult as Carl struggles to open a can of food. He goes to get his can opener, but he realizes he has to go into June’s studio to retrieve it. That’s when a miracle happens. Through some kind of magic, Carl is able to go into portraits to relive and, hopefully, change what happened to his beloved June.
Now let’s dive into what some of you may have been questioning – what kind of gameplay can we expect from Last Day of June? I’ll try to keep the spoilers light in this section, but understand that Last Day of June features puzzles that need to be solved. Of course, the ultimate puzzle is how to save June. But it gets tricky because every action, much like a butterfly effect, can change events for better or for worse. Through the portraits, I was able to control the Boy, the Teacher, and the Hunter. Later in the game, you will be able to control the Old Man. Each of these characters had something to do with the untimely death of June.
You first start playing as the Boy, a mischievous little guy who just wants to play. He is small, so he can only get through small openings in fences (gates are too heavy for him to move). He has a soccor ball, and unfortunately, we find out that the soccer ball was the main factor in the car crash that killed June. The ball ends up in the road, and when the Boy retrieves it, Carl swerves to avoid it and crashes. Obviously, I had to do something to change what happened. Through some puzzle solving, I was able to have the Boy change his actions, which prevents the ball and the Boy from going into the road! I did it!!! I saved June!!!
Or so I thought. The day ends and we see that Carl still gets into an accident, but this time it is the Teacher that causes it. The Teacher is moving away from the town because of things out of her control. She unfortunately fell in love with Carl, who loves someone else. It’s really interesting how the game shows innocent actions that unfortunately cause a tragic accident. It is obviously not an intentional act from the Teacher, but we still have to deal with the tragedy and try to change what happened again.
I admit that this part of the game was pretty tough to swallow. We think we save June, but something else happens to cause her death. It made me question a lot of things – is Fate causing June’s death? Is there anything that we can do? Is it hopeless to try? It’s at this point that you are compelled to help Carl. You can’t give up, not when there are other portraits to enter and other ways to hopefully change fate.
In my preview, I also played as the Teacher and the Hunter. I think I spoiled enough already, so I won’t go into too many details about their parts. Again, keep in mind that any action you take controlling any of these characters may impact the day. With this being said, I want to discuss the main part of the gameplay, which is the ability to go back into any portrait you choose to change things. This is a crucial factor because we already know that things have not changed despite my efforts when I entered my first portrait. As I end the day with one character, you get the chance to pick a different portrait to go into and go through the day again. If you solve a puzzle a different way, or if you unlock an area, then things will change for the other characters. You may have to go into different portraits multiple times in order to solve puzzles and change time.
Will it work? Will we save June? Only time will tell. We were asked to only play the first three chapters, so I have to wait until August 31st to find out if my actions were enough save June. It killed me to have to stop playing, so that should tell you how much I enjoyed playing the beginning of the game. The puzzles are not too difficult, so it should be a game that everyone can try. The thing that sets Last Day of June apart from everyone else is the emotions that come from seeing Carl and June. Through beautiful music and imagery, you grow to care for Carl and June. This emotional investment drives you to do anything you can to save June and, in a way, save Carl from living a life of despair and pain. What would you do to save the one you love? You will find out in Last Day of June, which arrives August 31st on Steam and Playstation 4.