There is a notion that a video game needs to look or play a specific way. Thousands of games showcase an abundance of action, stealth mechanics, multiple button schemes, countless side quests, or plot twists. While gamers, such as myself, love games with hours upon hours of content, there is a percentage of gamers (and non-gamers) who don’t look for these types of games. Maybe they want something simple. Or maybe they want a story experience that they would find in movies or TV dramas. Because of this, there is a huge risk when a developer goes away from a typical game development and creates something more cinematic and simple. There’s no telling how the audience will react to such a different type of game experience. Last Day of June took that risk in order to develop an emotional journey instead of a typical game experience. The risk was worth it because Last Day of June is an incredible experience that everyone should see for themselves.
The tagline for Last Day of June is simple, yet powerful – what would you do to save the one you loved? This mindset guides you through a wide range of emotions as you play the game. My emotions were all over the place as I played. Joy, sadness, frustration, confusion, acceptance – I felt it all. This is a game that spoke to me. As I mentioned in previous coverage of the game, I am a husband and father above all else. I love gaming and writing about games, but being a husband and father is the most important part of my life. Last Day of June spoke to me because of my love for my family. Right from the start, I was invested in Carl and June’s story.
After a tragic accident, Carl finds his world turned upside down. That is until he finds the opportunity to revisit the tragic day where he lost June. Through various portraits that June painted, you can relive that tragic day from the point of view of other citizens of the village. I don’t want to spoil too much, so understand that this ability involves time, and we all know what happens when we mess with time. Your actions when you play as one character can affect how the day goes for everyone else, including June. The day plays out a little differently for the Boy, the Teacher, the Hunter, and the Old Man depending on your actions.
Not only do you jump from character to character, but you also solve simple puzzles throughout the game. Some puzzles give you access to other areas of the village, or they help you find memories that you can collect for each character. The memories are easy to find and give you more background on the characters. The puzzles are not too difficult, which is fine. This is just speculation, but I think the team wanted to keep it simple so the story can be front and center throughout your 2-3 hour playthrough.
One of the best parts of Last Day of June is the game’s ability to relay emotion with only music, some sounds, and the movement of the characters. The art design for each character is quite unique, in that you don’t see the emotion on their faces. They are mostly a blank slate when it comes to facial features (except for the Hunter’s sweet, sweet mustache). Despite the blank faces, we can still see the emotion in each character from the excellent animation. The game lacks dialogue, but the sound from each character is distinctive and unique to each character and relays just enough emotion to help you understand what all the characters are going through. The music, from award winning musician Steven Wilson, fits wonderfully with the watercolor – like art design. The game looks unique and beautiful. Even the use of light and darkness gives the story a more emotional impact. Kudos to the entire art team for making this game look and sound so amazing.
From a gaming perspective, there are some problems. Personally, they were not a big deal for me, but I wanted to mention them because they could be important to you. Because of the time element, you may repeat specific moments or see the same cutscene over and over. You can’t skip past them at all. Personally, I liked having to relive the same cutscenes. It was frustrating seeing certain things over and over, but it also made me more determined to make things right. I also want to mention again that the puzzles are very simple. Other than those aspects, the game played great.
It’s hard to classify Last Day of June. It’s not a puzzler. It’s not a platformer or simulation. If anything else, Last Day of June is a unique storytelling experience that will have you experience all the emotions that come with losing someone you love. The story from start to finish feels like a roller coaster. There were moments where I felt hopeful, then had my hopes dashed. And I can’t stop thinking about the ending of the game.
I love Last Day of June. I love the story it told and the way it showed love and tragedy. I’m honestly excited to see how this game changes the way we create games. If Last Day of June can find success, then just imagine how games can change in the future. Developers would have the confidence to take risks in order to tell their stories. This is a game for everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, and I hope you give it a chance.
Last Day of June is available today on Playstation 4 and Steam for $19.99.
Note: GameOctane Creator Jason Germino received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
Check us out at Opencritic!
Beautiful art and music
Emotional journey from start to finish
Can't skip cutscenes