Archives by Day

July 2020

Last Day of June

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: OVOSONICO
Release Date: Aug. 31, 2017

About David Silbert

I'm a recent college graduate from Boston, MA. When I'm not writing for WorthPlaying, I'm probably researching Celtics trade rumors or struggling to keep up with the growing library on my Nintendo Switch.


PC Review - 'Last Day of June'

by David Silbert on Sept. 14, 2017 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Visualizing a bittersweet story told through a welcoming, painterly world, the role-playing exploration game showcases the beauty of life and love, but also the contradictions of loss.

Buy Last Day of June

The past few years have seen a strong resurgence of the adventure genre. As console and computer technology continue to advance, games like Virginia and What Remains of Edith Finch further blur the line between cinematic and gameplay-driven storytelling.

Last Day of June, from developer Ovosonico and director Massimo Guarini (of Murasaki Baby and Shadows of the Damned fame), represents the latest foray into the world of interactive fiction. Touting an expressive visual style and puzzle gameplay reminiscent of the movie "Groundhog Day," Last Day of June is an exciting addition to an increasingly crowded genre, and it's an experience that fans of adventure games should greatly enjoy.

Last Day of June tells the story of Carl and June, two lovers who share a scenic afternoon at a dock. After watching the sunset and rushing back to their car at the onset of rain, the young couple begin their drive home. On the way, they crash their car due to a series of events, and June loses her life.

Now wheelchair-bound, Carl soon discovers a phenomenon that could save June and restore his mobility. What follows is a three- to four-hour retelling of Carl and June's crash from four different perspectives, each experienced by a different neighbor who witnessed, and contributed to, the accident. From here, players navigate the neighborhood where the residents reside, manipulating their actions to change the future (and thus, June's death).

For a title as story-driven as Last Day of June, there is a surprising amount of gameplay to supplement the experience. Acting as more of a puzzle game than traditional point-and-click, Last Day of June places players in the roles of four neighbors who interact with one another before the fatal crash.

By manipulating the environment and bringing certain items to other characters, the player slowly unravels and prevents the series of events that led to June's death. While each puzzle lasts no longer than 20 minutes per character, they allow players to experience the story of Last Day of June from different perspectives.

It's typically uncommon to detail the controls of an adventure game. Most are simple and play as expected. However, Last Day of June deserves special mention for its tight, responsive and fluid movement. The many playable characters of Last Day of June display a range of emotions and temperaments over the course of the story, and the game does a great job of conveying this through its navigation.

Take June, for instance. Early on in the game, after exploring the upstairs of her and Carl's small home, I walked downstairs to answer the door. Most adventure titles would keep a player's walking speed constant throughout the entire game, but June quickly trots down the stairs to greet her guest.

Later on, when attempting to climb a set of stone stairs as Carl in the backyard, I was met with a sharp rumble of the controller as the wheelchair-restricted protagonist catapulted backward. Wheeling him around in a circle also made him dizzy and caused him to fix his glasses, which had slipped off during the process. These small but effective details helped ground me in the world of its protagonists, along with their levities and their struggles.

The beauty of Last Day of June's storytelling is in its simplicity. The characters lack eyes and mouths, and they communicate via gibberish, à la Animal Crossing. Examining objects and photos yields little in the way of text, instead opting to let the characters' reactions and context of the situation speak for themselves. By focusing on emotional expression over minute-to-minute narrative, Last Day of June provides a nice change of pace from other adventure games like Gone Home that heavily rely on reading to follow their plot threads.

Although brief, the story of Last Day of June leaves a lasting impact thanks to its endearing characters and emotional payoffs. However, the narrative isn't free of faults. The nonsense dialogue is initially charming, but it soon loses its luster due to the degree it is relied upon throughout the game. Overexaggerated and heavy-handed, these moments often lacked subtlety, as if they were a parody of the actual story.

Furthermore, while much of the narrative is conveyed implicitly, either through its face-less character models or no-words dialogue, there are moments where words like "remember" or "play" pop up during contextual actions. While harmless, they feel unnecessary, and in many cases, they could've simply been represented with a button prompt to get the point across.

Finally, although the game warns players that progress only saves at specific points, the exclusion of more frequent auto-saving is frustrating. Its absence prevents players from digesting the story at their leisure, an essential selling point of most adventure games.

It is a testament to the strengths of Last Day of June's story, then, that the lack of consistent auto-saving should not dissuade players from experiencing the game; it's worth the inconvenience.

These immersive details would not be achievable without Last Day of June's equally impressive presentation. Taking place on a warm summer afternoon, the events of Last Day of June are brought to life by bright, vivid hues of brown, orange and yellow. Sharp, detailed character models contrast with soft, blurred backdrops to achieve a hazy, impressionist final product. Beautiful lighting and particle effects add to the foreground, while crisp animations add some style to each neighbor.

The soundtrack, composed by Steven Wilson, adds a layer of complexity and emotion to Last Day of June's captivating world. Ranging from soft piano ballads to eerie acoustic guitar and violin compositions, Wilson's music manages to sound both uplifting and foreboding at the same time, an effective representation of the story it serves. While sparingly used throughout the game's limited runtime, the music of Last Day of June acts as a poignant accent to an already moving experience.

Last Day of June is an emotional roller coaster that explores the themes of love and loss in interesting ways. Its simple story is an effective showcase for the diverse and charming cast. Its puzzles serve as fun palate cleansers that, despite their easiness, guide the narrative from start to finish. The stingy auto-save might have caused me some grief and an hour of lost progress, but that shouldn't deter fans of the genre from giving it a try. Be sure to keep an eye out for that pencil-and-paper symbol!

Score: 8.4/10

More articles about Last Day of June
blog comments powered by Disqus