This is one of the more bittersweet games I have played as of late. The way in which the story was told, making use of some rather interesting game mechanics, was excellent. The music and overall aesthetic were top-notch. However, the game is depressing! I found myself speechless at several points while recording my playthrough of this game, it was a heavy experience.
This is a spoiler-free review – read more about how I do my reviews. I will not go into detail beyond what the Steam store page has listed.
Excellent storytelling. You play the this game through the eyes of Carl, whose wife passed away in an unfortunate car accident. To save June, the wife, Carl goes back in time through her paintings. A rather interesting gimmick, it works well in that the story slowly pieces itself together through memories obtained from these paintings. Each painting reveals just a little piece of the story, and I found myself wondering what the next painting would bring, given the events of the current one. It kept me playing until completion and I managed to complete the entire game, earning all of the achievements (except one), in just under three hours. Despite its length, the game finishes strong, with a rather powerful ending. Who knew that voiceless characters could convey such emotion?
The music and aesthetic. Last Day of June is built around Steven Wilson’s music. In fact, the game is inspired by a music video of his, titled “Drive Home”. I have never actually seen the music video until after I played through this game and I definitely can see the inspiration there. The game’s art style is directly drawn from this video, the large heads and lack of eyes in particular. The style works well, and when combined with such good music there really is no room for complaint there. My favorite track from the game would have to be “Significant Other”.
Simple, yet fun gameplay. The puzzles in this game are not really that difficult, but are a welcome addition. I only go stuck once, but that was early on before I had the whole time travel gimmick down. The game usually gives some sort of clue beforehand, making them seem effortless, but there were some occasions where the solution might not be so clear-cut. In fact, the player must make some mistakes on purpose in order to further the story.
Repetitive cutscenes. The game may be short, but I spent a lot of my playtime watching the same cutscenes over and over again. The game does not allow you to skip the majority of these cutscenes unfortunately. There were a few occasions where I accidentally ended a painting early and had to sit through the same cutscene that I had seen previously when leaving and getting back into the same painting. It was my mistake, yes, but I could have saved a whole lot of time had I been able to skip these cutscenes.
Optimization. For some reason, this game was quite taxing on my system. The Steam discussion board for this game is full of others claiming the same thing. I actually played through the game windowed at 720p just to get above 60fps. When playing at 1080p, I barely got 40. Why exactly does one need a GTX 970 or above to run a game of this scale? Leads me to believe that the game simply lacks the optimization it needs.
Last Day of June was a great game overall, a work of art even. There might not be a lot in terms of gameplay beyond some simple puzzles, but it depicts a beautiful, powerful story that works wonders when combined with Wilson’s music and aesthetic. Easily recommended to those looking for a game to tug at the heartstrings.
You can buy Last Day of June on Steam here.