Last Day of June asks the player what they would do to save someone they love, and it delivers on that strong emotional promise with fantastic music and a great art style. Although there are some small design problems, gamers looking for their next emotional journey should experience Last Day of June.
The story focuses on Carl and how he is dealing with the loss of his wife, June. He is pretty much sinking to the bottom of a well of despair, until he has a chance to undo the past. He is desperate and clings to any hope.
By going back to the day of accident, he is trying change events by making different people in the town make different choices. It is a kind of gut-wrenching version of Groundhog Day with puzzles.
These puzzles are based on the day as seen through the eyes of four neighbors. Each one can contribute to or help prevent the accident. Sometimes you might have to jump through more than one person’s day to solve a single puzzle, and the actions of one person can make a huge difference. Progress is literally gated, and more gates are opened in the town as you progress. This allows the puzzles to become gradually larger, but it never became unmanageable. However, it was initially annoying to see adults who are unable to bend over the top of a gate to unlatch them. For the most part, the puzzles are simple enough, and, if your steel trap mind is a little rusty like mine, you can eventually brute force your way through by trying multiple options until you find the one that works. You can still feel smart if you like. I did.
The story is brilliantly told without any dialogue in a lovely stop motion animation style. The characters sigh, laugh, scream, and shout to indicate their feelings with additional body language. It is more expressive than you might think, and I had no problems understanding what a person was feeling. Even without dialogue, the story was fairly subtle in some places, with clues that revealed a larger backstory. The memories that you can find scattered everywhere show little pictures that tell even more of the backstory. Everyone has a reason for what they did on that day, and it was impressive to see stylized graphics used to so successfully communicate the meanings to the player.
The visuals are either amazingly vibrant with overly saturated hues or mostly dark and more monochromatic. Any time after the accident takes all the life out of the world, and any time before is basically a paintjob made by 1,000 barfing unicorns. The severe contrast is another way the game successfully communicates the emotional state of the world, and both versions are great.
One of the other high points was the soundtrack. It is outstanding and lets you feel the impact of every failure, success, and hurting moment during the game. It ranged from quieter pieces in which Carl’s sadness was almost a language of its own to a little larger during the tense moments of the game.
The game is only a few hours long (longer if you ignore the obvious solutions to some puzzles), but there are some things that should have been cut. When you fail to solve a puzzle or the first time you have a new character, you will have to see the animation for the accident. If you have to switch characters to solve the puzzle, or you fail to solve the puzzle, you still have to see it again and again. After the first time, it should have been skippable until you see how your actions have changed the outcome. It was frustrating to have to wait for it to be completed to play more of the game. I did not time it, but I pressed the buttons wildly a few times to see if I missed the correct combination to skip it.
Overall, Last Day of June is an amazing game that accomplishes the emotional impact it promises. The puzzles are not so complicated that it will prevent you from seeing the ending – and you simply must see the ending – as well as the scene after the credits. If your heartstrings need some tugging, I strongly recommend Last Day of June.
Last Day of June PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
With a beautiful art style, Last Day of June tells a heartbreaking story about Carl as he tries to reverse the events of the day that took his love, June, away from him. Although the puzzles are on the easier side, the story told without any dialogue and the powerful soundtrack make this a great game for anyone who loves a good story and wants games that can make them feel something.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.