If I Could Save Time In A Bottle…
HIGH Exceptional writing…
LOW …that’s incredibly bleak at times.
WTF I should stop reviewing so many emotionally devastating games.
When I was about six or seven years old, my mom had cancer. It was one of those things where, at the time, I wasn’t truly aware of what was going on. All I knew was that my mom was sick, my grandma was with us from Colombia, and my dad was buying us a lot of toys. My mom would also be with us when she could, not wanting to leave my dad alone with three young boys. Thankfully, she survived the ordeal and everything turned out okay.
What that experience taught me is that my parents will literally look death in the eye to make sure their kids are taken care of. It’s something I always think about, especially in relation to how short life can be and how lucky we are to be here. Best Month Ever!, a new point-and-click adventure from the Warsaw Film School Video Game & Film Production Studio, takes the idea of parental sacrifice and our mortality to an interesting place.
Set in 1969, players are introduced to two characters, Louise and her eight-year-old son Mitch. Narrated by an adult Mitch, it recounts the summer he spent with his mom as she tries to find him somewhere to live before she dies. Diagnosed with cancer before the events of the game, she sets off on a road trip.
Played from a 2.5D perspective, most of BME! revolves around interacting with the environment and talking to NPCs. Scenarios will have players looking for key objects to advance, like finding a way to get a door open or getting around a barrier. Players control both Louise and Mitch throughout 12 short chapters that play out like mini-episodes, and each chapter introduces new characters and emotional revelations.
Early in the game, Louise leaves her crappy diner job and tells her boss off as she tries to collect money she’s owed. During this sequence, players are introduced to the choice system in BME.
Every dialog choice affects the way Mitch will grow up, and the outcomes are represented by three things — his response to authority, his willingness to trust others and his willingness to make tough choices. Different factors can negatively or positively affect the choices, like talking back to a cop trying to question the player, or scolding Mitch as he tries to ask a question about Louise’s condition. As players progress, they can see the consequences of their actions leading towards different endings.
While lacking any puzzles or dynamic gameplay, the strength of Best Month Ever! is story and writing. Sure, a lot of the game is incredibly bleak and I should give a massive trigger/content warning for the themes present, such as violence, racial prejudice, abuse, and the presence of hate groups. Even with these heavy topics at play, there’s a beauty to the way the whole thing is written. Louise and Mitch talk like real people, and Mitch is a precocious child forced to grow up too fast, witnessing horrific things in a journey that won’t end well with such an uncertain future.
If anything, it’s an interesting twist on the Lone Wolf and Cub-style stories we’re so used to seeing, but this isn’t a story about a tough veteran of a dangerous lifestyle, or grizzled men who equate self-worth with being able to kill things. Instead, it’s about someone who has no idea how to survive trying to make sure her son’s future is secure. It’s one of the most grounded and honest representations of parenthood I’ve ever seen in a game.
While its bleak nature might be a turn-off for some, I enjoyed my time with the short but bittersweet journey that is Best Month Ever! Any game that has me thinking of my mortality long after the credits roll is clearly something special.
Disclosures: This game is published by Klabater and developed by Warsaw Film School Video Game & Film Production Studio. It is available on PS4, PC, XBO/X/S and Switch. This copy was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on XBO-S. Approximately 3 hours were spent in single-player and the game was completed. There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M for Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity, Blood, Violence, Strong Language, and Use of Drugs. This game is a brutal experience and I should restate that I feel there should be a massive trigger warning for a lot of the content present. Depictions of abuse, violence, drug use, and strong language are present throughout. Definitely not for kids.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: I spent most of my time playing the game on mute and found no issues. Everything has some visual cue, though subtitles could not be resized. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The controls cannot be remapped and there is no control diagram. The right stick is used to move, the A button to interact and the D-pad to select choices.