Last Day of June – Nintendo Switch Review
Last Day of June, originally released on PS4 and PC during the summer of 2017, is best described as an experience intended to connect emotionally to its viewers. The project is the brainchild of Massimo Guarini and his small team at Ovosonico, who are no strangers to the video game industry. The game’s atmosphere and inspiration are taken from the song “Drive Home” from critically acclaimed musician Steven Wilson, who also collaborated on the project.
Ovosonico, with the help of 505 Games, was able to expand the audience of this chilling tale when Last Day of June launched on Nintendo Switch on March 16, 2018. Self described as a “heart-driven quest”, Last Day of June has players spectate and vicariously live out the lives of Carl and June, lovers whose happiness and companionship soon come to an end as they experience a fatal car crash on the way home from a well-mannered, warm picnic outing.
Ultimately taking the life of June, the crash also renders Carl confined to a wheelchair where he must painfully remember the horrific events of the accident. In doing so, he quickly realizes that he has a chance to alter the events of the past in hopes to save the love of his life. The player takes on multiple characters as they attempt to re-arrange the events that led to June’s last day. Most of this involves solving puzzles in the form of trial and error to see what chain of events are going to ultimately lead to a change of fate. Focusing more on the gameplay aspect, this title seems to have some issues with general pacing, especially towards the beginning. Blurring the line between film and game, the opening sequences have the player pointlessly engage in seemingly random button inputs in order to engage with the characters on screen.
After the stage is set, the overall gameplay is actually quite enthralling and hooks its audience into Carl’s plight to save his lover. Through Carl’s memories, you assume control of several characters that all play a critical role in the events that lead to June and Carl’s demise. This is accomplished by third person exploration of a small town and interacting with various objects and neighbors. A few collectibles are present in the game and serve the purpose of encouraging one to backtrack and explore sections that may have otherwise been missed.
This can be seen as both a way to artificially extend the game’s longevity, or a way to make it a tad easier, as the artifacts catch the eye and almost guide the player to the intended path of the puzzle. The gameplay almost tends to take a backseat to the sense of story-telling and the myriad of cinematic elements contained within. A very minimalist, almost “claymation-like” presentation that is able to convey very intense emotion through articulate expressions either through body language or unintelligible grunts.
The backdrops and landscapes are very detailed to the respective scenes, heavily emphasizing on color to relay emotion. It accomplishes all of this very well while also adding an almost haunting soundtrack to really tie the experience all together. Taking all of that into consideration, it is a shame to see such an immersive experience be plagued with less than stellar performance. Having no frame of reference on any other platform, Last Day of June appears to suffer many performance issues on the Nintendo Switch version.
From constant frame drops to certain rendering issues, there is certainly a lot of graphical hitches that can easily pull you out of the storytelling. I had initially thought it was a directive and artistic vision of the game to run at 24FPS to make it more akin to film, but I quickly found out this was not the case. There are times where it is almost nauseating to pan the camera around and watch the frames come crashing down.
This can get exceptionally jaunting as you inherently must redo some sections of the game over again. Overall, the puzzles themselves are initially intriguing, but don’t really offer a whole lot of room for failures; it is mostly a very brief series of very safe trial and error scenarios which follow a very linear path. The price of the game ($19.99) does not seem to line up with the quality of the port, the nearly non existent replayablitily, and the length of the game in general, seeing as you can easily 100% the game is just a couple of hours (roughly 3-4). This game is surely a heart wrenching and emotionally thrilling experience when it works, and I can easily recommend it from a cinematic standpoint. Unfortunately still, it will take quite a lot of performance patches before Last Day of June can truly captivate and find its audience on Nintendo Switch.
*Review Copy was provided by 505 Games, Last Day of June is Also Available on Playstation 4 and PC.