LAST DAY OF JUNE

Lovely but slight in­die puzzler chal­lenges your tear ducts

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS - @ben­tyrer

Rarely is the word ‘beau­ti­ful’ so apt. This time-bend­ing puzzler is both a gor­geous paint­ing in mo­tion and a ro­mance that gets you root­ing for lead cou­ple June and Carl be­fore the ti­tle’s even come up. The kicker is, they aren’t to­gether for long, as a fa­tal car crash kills June and leaves her part­ner a para­plegic. Yet this melan­cholic story con­tin­ues to al­lure as you head back in time to try and save her life. What fol­lows is a But­ter­fly-Ef­fect-meet­sGround­hog-Day nar­ra­tive, as you recre­ate the fate­ful day from the per­spec­tive of four dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters who in­habit the small village where the cou­ple lived. The puz­zling is en­joy­ably straight­for­ward in both con­cept and ex­e­cu­tion. Taking con­trol of a spe­cific char­ac­ter, each boast­ing an in­di­vid­ual me­chanic that’ll help you solve en­vi­ron­men­tal puz­zles, you try to re­shape his­tory by chang­ing their day. For ex­am­ple, get­ting a lit­tle boy to play with a dif­fer­ent type of toy will al­ter the events lead­ing to the car crash.

Com­plex­ity comes from the way each char­ac­ter’s ac­tions af­fect the oth­ers. Solving a puz­zle with one can open up a new area for all, although work­ing through these per­mu­ta­tions to find a way of avoid­ing the dis­as­ter is never a chal­lenge, such is the sim­plic­ity and clar­ity of what you need to do, even if it in­volves a fair bit of back-track­ing.

PEACE­FUL PUZ­ZLES

If there’s a prob­lem with this, it’s that you never re­ally feel like you’re solving any­thing, just mov­ing the story for­ward. Granted, it’s more in­volv­ing than the usual low-in­ter­ac­tiv­ity in­die ex­pe­ri­ence, but don’t come ex­pect­ing Wit­ness-lev­els of in­tel­li­gence. For­tu­nately, the tale at the cen­tre is as un­clut­tered (de­spite the di­a­logue be­ing Sim­lish-es­que sounds), and more ef­fec­tive be­cause of it. Carl and June don’t need a lot of time to make an im­pact, and op­tional col­lectible mem­o­ries you find for the vil­lagers flesh out their own sto­ries. They weave to­gether to cre­ate an ac­ces­si­ble but pow­er­ful me­di­a­tion on grief.

The art de­sign is also an un­qual­i­fied suc­cess. Not only does the colour­ful, the­mat­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate painterly style give this a warm and lush look, but the lit­tle im­pres­sion­is­tic touches, like the back­ground that be­comes much sharper the closer you get to it, are lovely. It’s a dreamy, hazy ef­fect that re­in­forces the soft melancholy this con­jures up.

Yeah, it’s all very heart-on­sleeve stuff. But Last Day Of June is all the bet­ter for it, pulling off the rare trick of mak­ing a uni­ver­sal theme seem in­tensely per­sonal. At its heart this is about the lengths we go to for love, but I can re­late to the sad­ness in ev­ery sign where Carl heads back in time. True, there’s lit­tle sys­tem­atic in­no­va­tion here, and the twists in the story are easy enough to spot. But they con­nect so cleanly that moist eyes at the fi­nale are well-earned.

VER­DICT

“THE LIT­TLE IM­PRES­SION­IS­TIC TOUCHES RE­IN­FORCE THE SOFT MELANCHOLY.”

Sim­plic­ity and rep­e­ti­tion may turn off those look­ing for a chal­lenge, but Last Day Of June boasts a heart­felt poignancy that makes for a richly af­fect­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Ben Tyrer

Carl and June’s trip to a lake early in the game is both a bad idea and a lovely pic­ture.

INFO FOR­MAT PS4 ETA 31 AUG PUB 505 GAMES DEV OVOSONICO

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