Best Month Ever! is such a (seemingly) unusual game that I didn’t know what to make of it after seeing the original trailer, or even after checking out the demo. It’s about a white woman named Louise, set in the US during 1969, where she must spend as much time as possible with her Black, biracial son Mitch. This is because Louise has been diagnosed with an illness and has only one month left to live.
The story is told in flashbacks with a voiceover from an adult Mitch, contextualising the choices and decisions made by his mother at the time. Of course, these are choices you end up making through dialogue options throughout the game, creating a Louise whose future characteristics are based on Mitch’s observation of your behaviour.
It begins with Louise having to collect her final paycheck from her abusive boss at the nearby diner, with Mitch (supposedly) sitting in the car. Through his eyes, you observe Louise being sexually harassed and make a quick getaway after torching up the boss’ car with an old lighter.
But these spontaneous, adult situations are just the beginning. After Louise returns to visit her estranged mother, there’s an unresolved story of child abuse being slowly unearthed, and a violent outcome of this makes me wonder how messed up Mitch would be if all of these choices and consequences were taken more seriously – if this was a book or a film in today’s setting and not the late 1960s.
With a dying parent, you know I’d eventually have to mention “life lessons” and there are moments throughout the story when Louise tries to instil these into Mitch. Whether it’s something about survival, such as how to gut a fish, or something light, such as seeing the night sky and catching fireflies, these are genuine and touching moments of parent-child bonding.
However, many other moments of the story feel like padding, particularly the way you play through them. For example, connecting stars in the night sky made me wonder if the controls were broken, and later, when you’re driving the car on a rural highway as eight-year-old Mitch, the same thing happened with the controls and I was unsure if this was a bug or just a reflection of a child not knowing how to drive.
Although the many, many characters you encounter seem interesting, and Louise and Mitch are nicely fleshed out as characters, the conversations are hurried and we don’t really get to know anybody else, even if there’s history between them and Louise. Despite these qualms, Best Month Ever! is more than a pedestrian narrative: the writing is good, but I wish there was more to the formula it presents in the opening acts.