Last Day Of June

What would you do if you could turn back the hands of time? Would you pay more attention in school to get a scholarship to a prestigious university? Would you have put more money into savings instead of wasting it all on pizza and beer? What if you could turn back the hands of time, to save the love of your life from dying?

Carl is a man who is madly in love with June, as she is with him. A romantic trip to the lake will take a horrific turn which will leave Carl a broken man and his beloved to an early grave. Thus, begins the journey of the Last Day of June, a somber and heartbreaking tale about one man’s grief and the steps he would take to save the love of his life.

Last Day of June is a puzzle/adventure game produced by 505 Games, the publisher behind such great games as Terraria and A Tale of Two Brothers. You play as Carl, a man who is granted a special gift after a severe car accident has left him a paraplegic. He has the ability to turn back the hands of time and manipulate other characters on that tragic day to change the past, in an effort to restore his future.

As the player you control Carl, and throughout the game, take control of other characters in Carl’s life. As you change each character’s action leading up to the end of the day, there is a glimmer of hope that the change you made will prevent the inevitable future. Each event, while seemingly minor in the grand scheme of things, plays a pivotal role in its effect on Carl’s life and his future with June. The game goes to great lengths to show how an event as simple as a choice of playing with a dog or flying a kite can result in the destruction of another’s life. Carl must alter each character’s decisions, if he is to save his beloved.

Game play involves Carl going back in time, to manipulate each of the main characters, attempting to change the outcome of what each of them did on that fateful day. Each character is presented with a series of puzzles and decisions to be made, with the goal being to change the outcome at the end of the day. The puzzles are straightforward affairs, including chasing a bird who has stolen a precious medal, or as a child trying to get someone to play with them. In most cases, changing the outcome of one person’s day, will result in the need to alter another…occasionally going back and forth between each character. Although there are no clear directions in the game on what to do next, Last Day of June does an excellent job of pulling you in the right direction.

The very first thing I noticed when I started the game, was how beautiful it was. The characters appear to be pulled directly off an artist’s water-color canvas. Each character, building, and animal is portrayed in a colorful and surrealistic manner. The characters themselves mumble and hum, with no real words to speak of, yet there is never any question as to what is being said. Every emotion, whether it be despair, anger or jealousy, is brought to life with gestures. It all blends together magically, to pull at your emotions in a way that very few games before it has.

It’s hard to complain about much in the way that Last Day of June plays out, but like all things in life not everything is perfect. There are points where you make a wrong decision and must replay the part of one of the characters. It’s in these moments that being able to skip what you’ve already seen and move forward with the game would have been welcomed. Thankfully the amount of time replaying a puzzle, or a character’s day are few and far between. When you do have to go back and replay another character’s day, the game does an excellent job of only asking you to replay the key moments, and not the entire day.

Last Day of June is an emotional, albeit short, journey about the what-ifs in life. It’s a game about regrets, of decisions we made, and provides answers to what we could do if we could just go back and change something. It’s a game that has stayed with me far longer than the three hours of gameplay that it provides, and for many people it will likely stir up their own thoughts of what is, and what could have been. At its core, Last Day of June simply asks the player to look deep inside themselves, and truly think about the choices and regrets they have made. Last Day of June may not be a game for everyone, it isn’t a game that’s difficult, or one that requires advanced problem solving, but never-the-less a thought provoking and ultimately enjoyable experience.

What I liked: Story, Art-style, Thought provoking nature

What I liked less: Short, Not being able to skip parts that you’ve already seen played out multiple times

4 out of 5 stars