Randal’s Monday is a semi-humorous old school point and click adventure game that is all about remembering TV and films you grew up with, as well as pretty much any remotely popular game that’s ever existed.
Do you remember [insert TV show/film/game name here]? Well Randal’s Monday sure does and it won’t let you forget that fact. Look at background art for almost 75% of the game and you’ll likely find at least five references there. Most of the jokes that don’t revolve around something crude also end up being references. It’s just a little too much most of the time and while it is occasionally quite funny – and humour is subjective – nostalgia is a subject that they go overboard with.
The premise is that Randal, a semi-geeky, wisecracking jerk, ends up stealing a cursed ring from his best friend, leaving him to relive (Randal’s) Monday over and over again, a la Groundhog Day. The problem being Randal is a jerk and he just makes things worse for himself, which is further compounded by the fact that the next repeat of the day is altered by Randal’s actions in the previous day.
Randal being a jerk is the biggest problem with the game, he’s not likable; he’s not a mischievous scamp who makes witty comments and put-downs, he’s an unapologetic jerk and it quickly becomes tiresome. The funniest moments always seem to occur around him but never really seem to be coming directly from him. It’s a lot like Deponia in that way and it doesn’t manage to hit the notes that the Sam and Max games managed either – neither the originals nor Telltale’s more recent, flawed attempts.
It’s set itself up as a hardcore old-school point and click adventure game, and it pretty much hits the mark in that respect. It’s obviously a good thing that it provides challenge but it doesn’t necessarily do that by just having clever puzzles. Most are fine but there are some really odd puzzles that are further complicated by having to get an item you could interact with previously but not pick up. It wouldn’t be an issue in most games but, as the game thrives on pop culture, the sheer breadth of objects to trawl your pointer over is quite ridiculous considering how long it takes to get from one location to another. It’s not something that’ll affect everyone but it’s something that more recent point and clicks have streamlined out for the players’ convenience.
If – like us – you end up needing a hint to ease your frustration at not being able to solve a puzzle, the hint system can be a tad underwhelming. It gives hints out step by step but it doesn’t pass out only something you haven’t solved. Quite often you have to go a few hints in just to get the information you wanted. Getting hints for things that you’ve already done is frustrating in most games, but here it seems to take far too many hints to get what you wanted, which sometimes spoils story/jokes/puzzles that you have yet to come across.
Regardless of the humour and how it plays, it does share Deponia’s art style that’s both cartoony and interesting. It’s always nice to look at the backgrounds (even if they’re overpopulated with references) and the animation is usually very good, with the exception of some scenes being curiously without much animation at all – most noticeably in the beginning scene. In a way it’s a shame that it never uses the potential of Randal’s world-altering curse fully; it’s mostly city streets and shops but it would have been nice to see it get more creative – especially as the one chance they had in the final chapter is so tame with its art.
It’s also fully voiced, which is pretty good for 90% of the characters. Some are little more than silly voices to fulfill a stereotype but they’re generally good. You might also recognize Randal as Randal from Clerks, who also gets to voice beside the voice of Jay. It does have a few too many canned sounds which can be offputting and the canned vomiting sound is particularly revolting, especially if you have to revisit that location and listen to it repeat for any length of time.
There are a couple of minor annoyances throughout the game; subway loading screens when you move between areas being one of them. You can skip them however and they always seem to last a set amount of time if you don’t opt to skip. They seem to be there only to give tips and serve no other purpose but that. There are also on occasion awkward pauses in conversations; long enough to know that they are not supposed to be there, and that they are very noticeable.
Randal’s Monday is a love letter to all the things you grew up with and love to this day but it doesn’t manage to hold up to the standards set by what it’s emulating. If you want humour with your nostalgia then there are better choices, and if you want a hardcore point and click then there are also better choices. It’s not bad, but it’s not a replacement for modernised point and clicks that have improved on the archaic design of the games we grew up with.