First look at the emotionally haunting Last Day of June

 

Italian indie studio Ovosonico is pairing up with publisher 505 Games for the “role-playing exploration game” The Last Day of June.

“With Last Day of June, my vision is to create a riveting emotional experience that connects with the broader audience of human beings,” said Massimo Guarini, founder and CEO, Ovosonico. “People feel comfortable broadly saying they don’t like videogames without ever really trying them, but never say that about movies or music or art – there’s always something they can identify with. I believe games can be just as universal and relatable, and that’s what we’re attempting to show with this project.”

Guarini’s last work and Ovosonico’s first game, Murasaki Baby, was lauded by critics for its “unique approach to platforming”, “personal and engaging story”, and “beautiful, hand-sketched landscapes…perfectly paired with a spine-chilling soundtrack”. Seemingly, Guarini is ahead of the game if his goal is to engage the player emotionally with a focus on the narrative. The main criticism was that the “unique approach” sometimes got in the way of enjoying the game- will The Last Day of June experience similar problems?

The player begins the game joining protagonist Carl and his girlfriend June spending a beautiful day together, but as the trailer shows, something has gone wrong and in the future, Carl is alone. The narrative timeline may be one of the more innovative aspects of gameplay, as the player attempts to solve “emotionally challenging puzzles” and alter the events of the past for a happier future. In an interview with VentureBeat, Guarani comments on the “butterfly effect” factor in these puzzles:

“If you change one little thing to avoid one outcome, you might cause something else,” Guarini said. “It’s going to be up to the player to experience how the facts unfold and how to change different things…Changing a single event might be easy to understand, but the puzzle elements and the nature of the game will lead you to deal with things as a combination of events…We didn’t want to have very clear, simple left-right choices, but rather a combination of choices that create a result. I’d say it’s more like playing chess with your fate.”

Like Murasaki Baby, The Last Day of June seems to put special effort into a distinctive art style. According to musician Steven Wilson, the game is based on a song from his album The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories), which itself was suggested to Wilson by illustrator Hajo Mueller. The song, Drive Home, was eventually storyboarded by Mueller and developed into a short film by Jess Cope with Owl House Studios. The game seems to borrow some of the character designs and story elements from Cope’s work, although the game adopts a soft-edged, watercolor-esque style while the film was mostly stop-motion with a paper-mache aesthetic. Both Wilson and Cope are credited as collaborators on The Last Day of June in the most recent press release from Ovosonico.

Will Ovosonico and the team behind The Last Day of June be successful in their endeavors to pose morally challenging, emotionally charged questions to its players? Will Guarani be satisfied that this latest project connects to a broader audience, making people more open to videogames as an artistic experience?

We can only wait to find out.

The Last Day of June will release later this year for PS4 and PC. Visit www.lastdayofjunegame.com for more information.

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