“Who is she?” is the tantalizing question that springs to mind for the Last Time I Saw You’s preteen protagonist, Ayumi.
Maboroshi Artworks’ story-focused indie game takes place in rural ‘80s Japan. While dreaming, Ayumi repeatedly encounters a girl in a black dress. He’s had this dream again and again where he runs after her but can never quite catch up. Ayumi then hears her in reality when his town starts experiencing unnaturally strong typhoons.
Last Time I Saw You evokes Night in the Woods, another narrative adventure with entertaining dialogue, platforming elements, and interactable objects. I can’t wait to find out what’s next — or laugh at the next unexpected exchange I come across.
It’s interesting how a game from a Japanese developer can evoke similar emotions as one with a completely different story from across the world. Night in the Woods balances a suspenseful mystery and an emotionally compelling coming-of-age story, which Last Time I Saw You follows so far based on the demo. It appropriately highlights interactions and interactable objects like a narrative adventure should.
Think of it like a storytelling sandwich: Last Time I Saw You introduces the problem at hand, the girl, and then Ayumi’s everyday life through his family, friends, and neighbors. It then revisits Ayumi’s dreams with the same setting turned upside down. Then, an entirely new issue that may or may not be related to Ayumi’s strange dreams manifests in reality. The way the opening paces itself in a neat, intriguing introductory chapter sold me the game in its short 30-minute demo.
There isn’t any voice acting, but the interactions speak for themselves. So many conversations, like the butcher and fisherman bickering over their stalls, characterize the townspeople and flesh out the setting so it feels like a real place. Just examining objects can surprise you. I might not know what other mini-games and obstacles Ayumi will face, but I’m interested in learning how love plays a role in his story.
As per the trailer, Last Time I Saw You also seems to have RPG elements like an energy gauge and ways to earn money. It’s unclear how that part of the game functions because it wasn’t in the demo and the main selling point is the narrative, which Last Time I Saw You focuses on in the demo. Thankfully, the coming-of-age story is more than a year out, so Maboroshi Artworks has plenty of time to flesh out the narrative details and mechanics before audiences truly pick it apart.
If it keeps the balance of lighthearted but spooky, spine-tingling energy throughout the entire story, then it’s golden.
Last Time I Saw You will launch for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC in 2024.