Best Month Ever! has been out for almost a couple of months, and the results are in. They’re mostly positive reviews, but there are a fair amount of low scores, which is a surprise. Finally, I’ve got around to playing it, and here are my thoughts, for what they’re worth.
When I looked at this during one of the Steam Next Fests, it was one of my favourite experiences. As a film fan and having studied cinema, the presentation hit all the beats I was looking for. As a gamer, it was also engaging to play.
Best Month Ever! follows the story of mother and son Louise and Mitch. Told from the perspective of a grown-up Mitch, we re-live an action-packed month that defines who Mitch has become. Without giving all the spoilers, Louise doesn’t have long to live, so she sets out for a bit of closure but, most importantly, ensures that Mitch has a decent life ahead of him.
The game follows pretty much like the demo; only there are a few new flashbacks that put things in perspective. You’ll alternate between both characters and have to make decisions that ultimately shape the narrative. These actions are represented by icons on the screen, giving a plus or minus based on the trait. This is practical parenting: do as I do, not just as I say! Essentially, it’s up to you: be honest, or lie to survive.
Set in 1960s America, Best Month Ever! covers many themes, but the core ones relate to a single mother doing her best for her child, all against the backdrop of racism. This game will likely affect your heartstrings on so many levels – be it sadness, anger, confusion… you name it. I needed to play this alone, not just because it’s a powerful story, but because the profanity filter only blocks out the text and not the dialogue. My youngest can’t read certain expletives but knows them when she hears them!
In some ways, the game feels like an entry point into making a road movie without having to film on location. As a game, we go across America, seeing a vast array of setpieces with some brilliant dialogue. Sure, it’s a little over dramatic in places and what can go wrong tends to go wrong, but as a narrative-driven fan, I loved it.
Now, I can see where it’ll be divisive as a game. Camera angles and lighting are straight out of film school. Clearly, Warsaw Film School know what they’re doing with the mise-en-scene. However, the animations and modelling of the characters are a bit ropey and a little below that of Oxenfree. The locations are great, but up close and personal characters won’t blow you away, and interactions can be incredibly minimalistic.
A small white square – often missable – will show up on the screen, and you need to direct Louise of Mitch in that direction to interact. You can’t freely interact otherwise, which is a bit of a disappointment as the scenes in Best Month Ever! make it worthwhile. Additionally, the QTEs and other mini-games are very much on rails and seldom offer a challenge. To fully appreciate this game, you need to be motivated by the story, and I understand that it’s not for everyone.
When Best Month Ever! appeared in my inbox, it was a pleasant surprise as it’s been on my watchlist since the demo, and it gave me a bit of a boost during covid. When you’re poorly, you don’t want to do anything other than Netflix and chill (the literal sense in this case), but having that additional level of interaction made the experience much more engaging and memorable than being passive, watching a film/show.
Whether or not Best Month Ever! reignites that fire to continue to write about games, I don’t know, but I will say it is a well-crafted tale that will resonate well with film lovers – particularly those with a penchant for storytelling, whether you’ve seen and heard it all before or not. Can I recommend it? Well, based on the reviews, we all look for different things, but from the perspective of storytelling, I loved it.