Some Thoughts About 'The Last Day of June'

in #gaminglast year

I recently played through a game called Last Day of June. It's a short narrative driven puzzle game developed by Ovosonico and released in 2017. I wanted to share my thoughts on the game.

Presentation

Last Day of June immediately distinguishes itself with its pleasant, painterly environments. The game immediately makes a great impression with its lush environments and the adorably designed props that decorate them. Its characters resemble rudimentary wooden dolls, lacking very defined features. This took some getting used to but I was completely fine with it after just a short time. The simple style ensures each character is immediately recognizable, which is good for both storytelling and gameplay.

Sometimes things in the distance can lose a little clarity under bright light, though fortunately, the light isn't as intense in most areas as it is in this starting area:

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Characters have voices, but they all speak in wordless vocalizations. The lack of spoken dialog is a conscious decision to let you interpret the story through visuals and sound. The scenes are all set against beautiful background music by Steven Wilson, as well.

All in all, I think the presentation is uniquely charming, in spite of a few potential readability problems.

Narrative

Note: I'll discuss the premise of the game and some parts of the plot, but won't spoil the ending or vital details. Use your own discretion to decide if you want to read this segment.

In The Last Day of June, you take on the role of Carl. The story kicks off with Carl going out with his wife June. A tragic car accident causes June to lose her life, leaving Carl all alone.

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Though it's hard for him to face now that she's no longer with him, one night Carl decides to look at the paintings June made. They're paintings of their various neighbors. As Carl looks at the paintings, he realizes they have some kind of magical quality which allows him to experience what the person depicted was doing on the day of the accident.

Thus starts his journey to prevent June's death, hoping the answer can be found in what one of his neighbors did or didn't do that day.

The narrative is simple and effective, and I mean simple in a good way. Feelings of loss and the desire to protect and save a loved one are very moving and relatable themes. You may want to bring some tissues if you decide to play this one through.

Gameplay

Last Day of June is a puzzle game that uses basic third person exploration. You can walk around, you can interact with the environment and you can carry a single item around in your hands. It is a fairly slow-paced game, so go into it with a relaxed mindset and don't expect things to happen too quickly.

Each of the neighbors you take control of through the magic paintings has a unique way of interacting with the environment - the Kid has his ball which can knock over certain obstacles, for example. The most interesting part of the puzzle solving process is that the puzzles affect each other and choosing one solution in a given puzzle may lock you out of solving another puzzle a certain way. In the interest of illustrating this concept without spoiling too much: One of the ways the Kid's segment can be solved is by having him fly a kite. However, you need to take the rope to let him fly his kite. This means that the next neighbor, the Best Friend, cannot use the rope to secure the luggage on her car. And paths opened by one neighbor can then be accessed by the other. I enjoyed that you had to consider the other puzzles as you solved each puzzle, though it never got very complicated.

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My only major problem was that certain scenes were unskippable. For example, when you resolve a character's scenario one way or another, you always get a scene of how this affects the accident. If you made a mistake, that means you have to sit through the same accident multiple times, damaging the dramatic value of a serious scene and wasting a decent chunk of your time. Having unskippable scenes is a cardinal sin in a game where said scenes can repeat.

Aside from that, the game is a fun and inventive puzzle game that'll make you think but probably won't really make you wrack your brain to get through it.

Conclusion

With its charming presentation, moving story and simple-but-fun puzzle solving, The Last Day of June is well worth playing for any fan of puzzle or narrative games. The only caveat is that the game can easily be completed in around 3 hours, which some players may consider a tough sell for its 20 euro price tag. But if you're thinking of checking it out, you can find it right here or wishlist it if you want to wait for a sale: https://store.steampowered.com/app/635320/Last_Day_of_June/

Thank you for reading! If you give the game a shot, let me know what you think.

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