There are two opposites in everything we do, everything we see, and everything we are. If we are cold we know we can be hot, if we are awake, we know we can be asleep, and if we are hungry, we know we can be full. All of these have another side with another outcome, but the only real opposite we don’t know is death. We are aware of the concept, and we know how it can occur, but we have never experienced it. Many of us know firsthand how it can destroy the lives it leaves behind, and many of us have also seen someone very dear to us leave this mortal coil, but none of us have experienced it, so we cannot comprehend it, and, at the same time, none of us can escape it.
Last Day of June gets us to face loss head on. It requires us to watch the same death countless times, and see the closeness and love of a happy relationship be ripped apart – destroyed in front of us over and over again. What you get out of it depends on how you view its message, but I’m sure that anyone lucky enough to play will find it a moving, yet stark wake-up call. You play as Carl, struggling to deal with the death of his wife June after a car crash takes her life and leaves him in a wheelchair. After a certain turn of events, you find a way to relive the lives of four people within the small village you live in around the hours of the crash, desperately trying to stop it from happening by correcting the mistakes of those who potentially caused it.
There are four paintings each representing the four characters, and you revisit these memories by touching the paintings June once painted when she was alive. On the day of the accident, a young boy is playing with his football, a lady is packing up her belongings and leaving the village, a man is out hunting with his dog, and an old man is delivering a present to you and your wife. It’s a sunny day and the village is beautiful, filled with cherry blossoms, the colours of autumn in the leaves on the floor and the orange-glow in the sky, and a calm and peaceful wind blowing along the paths and stairways. It’s a village you’d love to settle down in, where happiness resides among you and there isn’t a care in the world. It’s a perfect setting for such a tragic story, and by creating a false sense of security you’re never able to stay comfortable in your surroundings.
The purpose of the game is to go back into these four lives and try and change something to keep the crash from happening. It might mean the lady needs to find a rope to keep her belongings tied to her car securely, but in doing this, the child doesn’t get to play with his kite, leaving him to play with the man’s dog potentially running into the road where Carl and June have the crash. The way in which you have to find the correct ending can be tough, but by spending enough time exploring the village, and seeing how certain things interact with certain characters, it all starts to become clear. It’s lacing all the threads together that can frustrate, and knowing exactly which scenario is going to lead onto the next that’ll cause the most head scratching.
There are different outcomes, and it’s up to you to go back and forth to relive these memories. Although it’s an excellent concept, it can become tiresome, mainly because the loading times are atrocious on PS4. For the amount of times you have to go back and forth, you’re sat on the loading screens for quite some time, breaking the poignancy of what you’re actually doing. Another problem with reliving the memories so often is the inability to skip cut scenes. You end up watching the car crash numerous times, and it dulls the impact of the accident and its implications on Carl and the village.
Learning about Carl and June’s relationship becomes heart-breaking, and finding out their future and what could have been will reduce you to tears. It’s full of bittersweet moments, and not just for Carl, but for all of the characters you control. It’s a story written so well without the use of a single word of dialogue, and the music throughout is utterly superb, creating moods and emotions to hit you hard. Last Day of June is a powerful story of death and our inability to escape it no matter how much we want to. It’s a story about how far we’ll go to save the ones we love, and also what kind of impact love, and relationships can have on our whole existence.
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