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Last Day of June Review: Cherish

/ Apr 24th, 2018 No Comments

Last Day of June Review

A single unique gameplay mechanic can make a seemingly stale genre feel fresh. A cool twist on familiar territory can etch a game into life-long memories of its players.

Last Day of June has eye-catching aesthetics, an emotionally moving soundtrack, and a compelling story. However, a gameplay twist brings the package together and makes the game stand out.

No Words

On a sunny day, June convinces her husband, Carl, to go to their favorite spot by the lake for a picnic so she could give him a present at sunset. Before Carl can open the present, it starts pouring rain. The two run to the car and decide to head home.

In the darkness and terrible rain, the driving conditions are rough. When a neighborhood kid walks into the street to grab a soccer ball, Cael swerves to miss him, but loses control of the car and wrecks. He survives, but June doesn’t.

How far would you go for love? What would you risk to save the person that means everything?

Last Day of June centers around the depths of love and sacrifice. This plays heavily into the gameplay, where Carl gains a tremendous power to change his tragedy. But when messing with the natural order of things, there are terrible consequences.
 

Last Day of June Review

The rainy day that lead to tragedy.

The major thrust of both the story and gameplay asks a lot of both Carl and, by extension, the player. It forces you to decide how important fixing trauma is, or if it is better to let the past lie. The more you and Carl try to change the past, the worse things get.

Ultimately, Last Day of June is about futility and how hard it is to swim against the stream of time until you are asked to make a remarkable decision. The more perspective and information you gain on the events leading up to the crash seemingly makes the decision obvious. Yet, how much would you sacrifice to save the one you love?

How to Fix the Past

June was a gifted painter and artist. Her preferred subject matter was painting portraits of the citizens of her tiny town. Whether painting Carl, her muse, or the other villagers, she had an ability to capture their humanity.

After the accident, Carl is paralyzed from the waist down. A broken man, he lives in his once happy home now poorly lit and empty. The paintings of his wife that he used to take such pleasure in looking at are covered up and forgotten. Then one day, a mysterious blue light illuminates her studio.
 

Last Day of June Review

June left Carl an amazing gift in her paintings.

Getting into his chair, he heads into the studio and finds a portrait of a neighborhood child glowing oddly. Curious, he touches the portrait and finds himself transported not only into the neighborhood child but into the past, specifically the day June died. With the ability to control the child on that day, he endeavors to see if he can change the outcome and save June.

The crux of Last Day of June’s gameplay revolves around June’s paintings and inhabiting different villagers on the day of the accident. As much as Last Day of June is an adventure game, it is as much a puzzle game. While you explore as each villager angling to save June, you find out quickly that changing one event causes time to course correct and a new event to cause the accident.

For instance, preventing the boy from running into the street to retrieve his ball doesn’t stop the accident. It simply causes the neighbor lady to cause the accident. She is moving out of town and her truck is loaded. Unfortunately, she can’t find rope to tie down the boxes, so the storm causes her to drive dangerously and boxes spill onto the road. She stops in the middle of the road to collect her boxes and causes Carl to wreck anyway.
 

Last Day of June Review

You live out the events of that fateful day from different perspectives.

Even when you fix one person’s problem, it causes another problem to pop up. Unfortunately, you can’t fix all of these issues at once. Exploration is blocked at points, which requires using certain villagers’ abilities in order to open up new pathways. Time still moves forward in these scenarios, so when you open a path in one of their stories, it opens it in another.

It is all one large puzzle that requires exploring deeply in each person’s story until you find an acceptable solution to keep them from impeding the road. However, there is more to it than that. Just when you think you’ve fixed all the problems, there is one problem that seemingly can’t be fixed. This incident forces a heavy narrative choice that causes the gameplay to reinforce the story in an exciting way.

Overall

Last Day of June is a succinct emotional punch. It draws you in with its clever gameplay style and keeps you glued to your screen until its beautifully bittersweet conclusion.

Even if you have grown tired of the adventure genre, Last Day of June has more than enough tricks to change your mind.

Last Day of June was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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