Imagine yourself being caught inside a lovely impressionist watercolor painting, where the denizens wordlessly tell a heart wrenching, emotionally charged story. With that in mind, you get the basic premise of The Last of June, a narrative-focused adventure game from the developers Ovosonico. If the compelling visuals of the game haven’t caught your attention already, read on and ready a box of Kleenex, for the game has an equally gripping story for you to enjoy.
The game starts with a loving couple, Carl and June, sharing a perfect sunset together on a pier. Then a sudden summer storm comes in and the couple decide to go home. But alas! Fate is a cruel mistress! The couple do not make it home together, as the following scene shows a miserable looking Carl, alone and wheelchair-bound in a clearly bleak house without any trace of love from moments earlier.
A sliver of hope shines for Carl when he discovers that one of June’s paintings gives off a mysterious glow and sends him back to the day of the accident and lets him alter the events. Perhaps, re-living that day as a boy in the village who unwisely decided to chase his soccer ball on the road and cause the terrible accident, may save Carl and June from their terrible fate. Perhaps, if that boy was playing with a kite on that day instead, no one will have to die.
That’s the basic concept of gameplay in The Last Day of June. You re-live that day as a different resident and try to avert the actions that may ultimately lead to an unwelcome accident. As you play on, more and more paintings will glow, letting you play as more characters in that small village, giving you more choices. Now you must be thinking “Wait a minute! This sounds like *insert film/game/novel”. Worry not, for The Last Day of June has an intriguing story-telling and overall presentation, which make it so unique and original among other time-rewinding-butterfly-effect games out there.
Not only are the game’s visuals gorgeous, the presentation itself is artful and subtle. There is no spoken dialogue in the game. The developers chose action over words to portray the nuances of the story. The characters only produce highly emotive babbles similar to The Sims with simple animations to express their feelings. The minimalist story-telling goes perfectly in harmony with the game’s setting, allowing you to easily connect with the characters as you share their anguish, fear, love and sorrow.
Moreover, the game is not all about just Carl and June. As you play as the other residents, you will learn about their lives as well. At that point, these other residents stop being the backdrops in the game as each has his or her own story to tell - a child struggling with loneliness or a woman trying to move on from an unrequited relationship and so on.
I have to praise the final act of the game with the highest regards for being such a masterful example of a finale done just right. Once you get comfortable with the rhythm of the game after playing a few chapters, the game will certainly catch you off-guard and send you reeling on one intense emotional roller-coaster ride that you definitely would not see coming. It is that kind of ending where you feel deeply touched and have to hold back waves of bittersweet emotions (and tears) as you watch the credits roll.
The Last Day of June is closer to a work of art than a game. It does more than just entertain. It imprints a lasting impression and a distinctive experience, like one special day you’d share with your loved ones, embolden with a compelling story, blissful music and exceptional art direction, and only slightly marred by the repetitive nature of the gameplay itself. I strongly recommend this title to anyone who’d like to enjoy an exclusive experience that only a work of art can offer.
Lv-99 simple sheep