Randal's Monday

If you are a pop culture lover, Easter egg hunter with absolutely no sense of impatience or frustration, then Randal’s Monday is the game for you.

By JohnnRckr, Posted 13 Dec 2014

Randal’s Monday is not your typical point-and-click adventure game, and that’s both a positive and negative. Games tend to intertextuality and self-reference, and that’s great. A game that achieves in bringing laughs and memories through a well-placed Easter egg or witty wordplay is a reason to celebrate and is always welcome, but when a game tries to support all of its attractiveness in the exaggeration of this single trait, then it’s headed for disaster. For many who have heard of the game, it is now clear that Randal’s Monday is filled with pop culture references to the point of being called the pop culture game. Everything from sitcoms like The Office to classic movies like Back to the Future II and Star Wars; from classic games like The Legend of Zelda to modern favorites like Guitar Hero, are referenced here, but most of those appearances are empty or shallow, to the point of quickly becoming background noise with no apparent meaning but to provoke a chuckle or double-take. That said, there are also exemplary uses of the geek culture that need to be noted, like a section of the game dedicated to a Star Wars knowledge quiz or the attendance to a pseudo Comic-Con. However, as mentioned before, the game falls short of transforming this handful of references into something meaningful and, quickly, they are just images that amass under the collective term of “references”.

Randal's Monday Review

Story wise, Randal’s Monday could be described as something out of The Twilight Zone, as referenced in the game itself, or Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow, if you prefer. Due to a certain event that shook the space-time continuum, Randal becomes trapped in a never-ending loop and becomes destined to relive the same Monday over and over again until natural order is restored. Every Monday will have small to significant changes depending on Randal’s actions and can take him to rather impossible scenarios each time. Edge of Tomorrow’s premise is based on video game mechanics, where you are forced to learn from your mistakes and die until you have mastered the skills necessary to advance. Randal’s Monday brings back that learning curve in a rather metaphorical way and, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, repeats his day until he is able to change everything for good. Nothing new here, but it’s always a pleasant story to tell.

The Problem with Randal’s Monday lies in its poorly designed gameplay and puzzle mechanics. It is as if the studio behind the game decided to ignore decades of improvement made in point-and-click games and just move forward blindly into a well-known terrain. To name just a few examples of the major problems this game has: the inventory, presented as a comic book, opens in the screen and needs to be closed every time an item is used. This single action becomes repetitive and tiring, because, if you attempt to use in item and fail, you will have to open the menu again and select a different one, which is, frankly, poor interface design. Now, to the real quid, puzzles, which are nothing but absurd, illogical, frustrating, and not-rewarding. For most players, point-and-click adventure games represent a mind challenge, and that’s part of its attractiveness, but a brain teaser is desirable as long as it requires to use the brain; instead, Randal’s Monday stretches the limits of the possible and opts for the most farfetched and illogical answer possible. It is, at times, as if the player needed to, magically, know what he is supposed to do or, like most, attempt a rather futile trial-and-error method until something pops. This constant flaw throughout the game ruins completely the experience and something that had the potential to be an incredible, maybe cult worthy, game.

Randal's Monday References

The flaws in gameplay are a pity, because the art, music, and voice acting are superb. As the game is presented in a cartoon/comic book style, the art in it fits perfectly in this pop/geek nebula and, even, makes you think considerably of which cartoon it reminds you. Jeff Anderson, Clerk’s own Randal, provides the voice for Randal and does so in a really amazing way, really capturing the essence of the character. It is a shame that the character doesn’t really have that much to offer or a reason to be empathetic with him. Also, Jason Mewes makes a special appearance voicing Jay, who makes a cameo in the game. Lastly, music really evokes the ambiance and atmosphere of a cynical and sarcastic world, with all the amount of guitars you can imagine. It is the sound of the late ‘90s and the early 2000s, which really transports you to the universe in front of you. The again, because of the insanely amount of time you have to spend in a single location, due to the lack of coherence in the game’s logic, music becomes ultimately repetitive and tiring. It is, again, a waste of potential and talent, ruined by a poor design in the game’s core.

Randal’s Monday should only be played exerting extreme caution and being advised that you are going to have an incredibly frustrating time and that all of the effort you put in each puzzle will go poorly rewarded. Although, if you are a pop culture lover, Easter egg hunter with absolutely no sense of impatience or frustration, then Randal’s Monday is the game for you. Point-and-click adventure games are the most similar in construction to an interactive book and, because of that, its narrative tends to be powerful and immersive. Take a look to titles from the TellTale Games library, if you want, or any LucasArts game of the genre. TellTale is a keen example on how narrative based games are not doomed to cease to exist, and Randal’s Monday was meant to strengthen that notion. The references overload should make this one of the best titles of the year, as well as its voice acting, but, unfortunately, what actually happened is very different and this game’s only merit is to serve as a doctoral thesis on how not to write the mechanics of a point-and-click adventure game.

Jonathan Coutiño, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Developer(s): Nexus Game Studios
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2014-11-14

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