I’ve always described prog rock god Steven Wilson as the Hideo Kojima of music. An auteur of sorts, with a creative mind and drive that few of us could ever comprehend. So when Ovosonico’s Last Day of June, an adventure puzzler based on Wilson’s haunting Drive Home, was released back in 2017, I felt that excitement you get when two friends from different social circles actually hit it off. Two of my interests had come together in one, ultimately heart-wrenching, package.
Last Day of June was the first game I officially reviewed as a journalist and it’s proven unforgettable. Since then, I’ve told every other prog rock/Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree fan I can about it. I’ve mused about its unique stop-motion animation, teared up recalling its story, and praised Wilson’s versatility – which results in a soundtrack equally as melancholic as it is beautiful.
And now that Last Day of June is included in the revamped PS Plus Extra library, I’m here to tell you, too.
There must be a way
Steven Wilson’s Drive Home, like many prog rock numbers, is a story in itself. From The Raven That Refused To Sing album, the song tells the tale of a husband and wife who are involved in a car crash. The wife, unfortunately, dies, leaving the husband wheelchair-bound and inconsolable with grief. I did warn you it wasn’t cheery.
Last Day of June builds upon both the track and its music video. The stop-motion puzzler begins with the death of June, leaving her husband Carl in a house plagued by memories. While the characters of the game don’t actually speak, merely communicating via gibberish, Carl’s pain is palpable. It’s agonizing to watch him wake up and find June’s spot empty each day. But what if he could change that?
That’s really the crux of Last Day of June: the butterfly effect. What if Carl changed one of the many events that led up to the accident? Surely, June would still be here. And that’s exactly the power he gets. Throughout his darkened home, Carl finds portraits June had painted of their neighbors. Upon touching each character’s painting, he steps into their shoes on the day of the accident – with the goal of changing the events in an effort to save June.
This is where the puzzling element comes in, with each character solving a series of fairly straightforward problems to change the part that a particular person may have played in the events that transpired. For example, stopping a young boy from running out into the road Carl and June were driving along.
It’s a slow but beautiful adventure. Since the puzzles are uncomplicated, the enjoyment, at least for me, comes from the artistry of Last Day of June. The stop-motion characters’ lack of verbal communication somehow doesn’t take away from the raw emotion on display. Carl’s face is, for the most part, just a pair of round glasses – and yet I find myself in floods of tears as I watch him go through what can only be described as the five stages of grief.
But I don’t think this emotion would be quite so raw without the heart-tugging riffs of Wilson’s soundtrack, each track precisely placed to capture the intensity of the moment. He’s a craftsman, and Last Day of June only goes to show that this mastery translates to games with ease.
A diamond in the rough
With PS Plus Extra’s library offering a plethora of games across PS4 and PS5, including Demon’s Souls and Death Stranding, you’d be forgiven for scrolling past the quietly brilliant Last Day of June – but that would be a mistake.
If you’re looking for a PS Plus gem that will take you on an emotional journey in more ways than one, breaking your heart into a million pieces before filling you up with radical acceptance, then I can’t recommend Last Day of June enough. If you’re a Steven Wilson fan, well, you probably know what you’re in for already.