Randal is not a great friend. He gets wasted all the time, he is cynical, kleptomaniac and always looks out for himself, never for his friends or other people. He has no respect for his boss, his landlord and he is always late on his rent. That last detail will take him on an adventure through time and dimensions. Welcome to Nexus Game Studios’ game, Randal’s Monday.
Randal’s Monday is an old school point and click adventure in the style of The Curse Of Monkey Island and Broken Sword. You control Randal who, after a night out celebrating the engagement of his only fiend, Matt, he wakes up in an alley. Next to him he finds his friends wallet and inside it the engagement ring. Being a truly selfish and chaotic neutral character (to put it in DnD terms), he sells the engagement ring in order to find money and pay his rent. What he did not know is that the ring was cursed and makes him repeat his Monday, Groundhog Day style.
The controls follow the classic point and click style where you do everything with the mouse. Left click moves the character while right click opens the choice window. There you can talk to someone, speak to someone or grab something. Moving the mouse to the lower left part of the screen will open your inventory where you stash all the items you find. You can try to combine them or just pick and use them. In the inventory you can also find the hint system for when you are stuck with the puzzles (and believe me, you will stuck a lot).
The art style is beautiful and professionally made. Hand drawn characters and locations, very nice animation, in general it’s an artwork that compliments everything that you see on screen and especially all the pop culture references that appear throughout the adventure. The music is also enjoyable but nothing that will amaze you, slow rock songs that will keep you company while you solve the puzzles. Special mention should go to the voice acting, it’s making the whole game feel so alive and even more enjoyable. My only gripe is with Randal. He speaks a bit slow and that is a problem because of the long conversations you have in the game.
The meat and potatoes of an adventure games is it’s story and puzzles. As far as story goes, the premise sounds very interesting. You have to relive your Monday, watching your friend dead every time and being questioned by the same obnoxious detective, trying to find the ring you sold in order to solve the curse. The problem here begins with pacing and with the gameplay, combined with the puzzles. To get to the actual story you have to spend a lot of time going around, trying to find what to do next, visiting everyone and every location. In this instance, an obvious goal or a linearity in the game would be greatly appreciated. Even after you get into the actual storyline, most of the time you will backtrack to every location you have visited in order to solve puzzles without a clear objective.
And we get into the biggest problem of the game, the puzzles. Most of them are illogical, you will need to combine items to get a result that you wouldn’t figure out by yourself. That is a huge problem because it stalls the story, it makes you wander aimlessly around, clicking on everything and combine everything to get something, without even thinking. It’s a big time waster and even more, it strips most of the fun of adventure games, the enjoyment to figure out a puzzle on your own by actually using your brain. This, combined with the lack of a hint from the game in the dialogues (some times it happens but not often) makes the experience pretty tiresome.
Both together the story and the puzzles are a messy combination that don’t clearly show you your objectives. Many times I tried to solve a puzzle and it took so long that I gave up. Fortunately there is a hint system in the game that will help you through anything that you might encounter. It’s more of a walkthrough actually, because it states exactly what you need to do to proceed and not hinting at the possible solution. Normally I am against peeking at walkthroughs, I believe that you have to use your skills in order to solve a puzzle. That way you get an exhilarating feeling when you find the answer by yourself and that feeling makes the game experience even better and memorable. But, given the difficulty and illogicality of most of Randal’s Monday puzzles. at least if you just want to see the story you can go and follow the in game walkthrough.
Finally, I need to adress all the pop culture references in the game. Personally, I love it when a game cleverly throws a pop culture reference in it’s story, puzzles or in a conversation. It’s like the developers are winking at me saying “You know what? We love the same things you do man, you are not alone in your weird fantasy world filled with movies and comic book stories.”. In Randal’s Monday though, everywhere you click there will be a pop culture reference, either in the form of actual items in rooms and the street, or in conversations Randal does with the other characters. My problem is that they seem like they are there just to fill the space and not actually make you feel like you are special because you got the reference to the best gang movie ever, The Warriors. Also, if you are a child born in the 80s or 90s you will get most of the references but if you are younger, there is a possibility that you might miss what many of them mean.
You can begin your adventure by buying Randal’s Monday on Steam for 19,99€.
Randal’s Monday starts with an interesting premise for a story and it’s presentation is stellar. Beautiful art style, amazing voice acting and nice music to keep you company while you adventure in the game’s world. The excitement though tones down after a while because of it’s constant backtracking, the difficult and most of the time illogical puzzles, the slow progression and the unclear objectives. The pop culture references are in abundance in game and they will please 80s and 90s kids, but they become tiring pretty quickly because they don’t have an actual reason being there. To conclude, the game’s presentaton in general feels like a love letter to the golden age of adventure games, but it misses in the parts that actually matter the most.
+ Art style
+ Interesting story
+ Excellent voice acting
+ Lots of pop culture references…
– …that get tiring after a while
– Hard and illogical puzzles
– Lots of backtracking
-Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas