Randal's Monday Review

Time poop.

We love point-and-click adventure games because of their uncanny ability to subvert both the written word and the interactivity inherent in games. They can tell stories using stimuli that books just don’t have, be they tragedy or comedy. And they can tickle our brains even as they spin a narrative featuring hilarious, strong, memorable characters that stick with us for years. But we also hate these games because of how obtuse progressing through them can be, causing us to spend hours wandering around and using every last item we have on every last interactive element on every last screen. We give ourselves migraines as we attempt to decipher the broken logic of the developers. Yet even with all these fatal flaws, we still hold a rosy view of classic adventure games. Nexus Game Studio loves them, too. In fact, their latest game, Randal's Monday, oozes with love for this genre. Too bad that actually playing it will make you hate not only the genre but also games in general.

Oh, the game seems appealing enough at first. The world of Randal's Monday is a nice-looking cartoony world that's still grounded in reality, something akin to any number of adult cartoons you see on late-night TV. And when you're set loose in this world, it doesn't take long for it to open up, giving you access to a city of respectable size to explore. It helps that all kinds of geek references litter the game. It's kind of neat to see references to Portal, The Twilight Zone, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and Fraggle Rock all in the same game. Running around from place to place (made easier thanks to subway-based fast travel) makes for a downright pleasant experience … at least at first.

Randal certainly knows how to talk to women.
Randal certainly knows how to talk to women.

Its love for the heyday of adventure games is immediately apparent from the get-go. The different-colored lines of dialogue and emphasis on humor feel like classic Lucasarts games out of SCUMM VM, and the way you progress through the game using a pile of seemingly random items is a direct analogue to King's Quest and its ilk. But for all its affection for this bygone era, Randal's Monday lacks the perspective to realize the deep flaws in this style of game, instead mindlessly charging ahead and aping their formulas wholesale while fixing hardly any of them.

A great number of the solutions in the game make no logical sense unless you happen to be in the developers' heads. For instance, to bypass a certain lock, you don't have to find a key or even a lockpick. You need to take a small spring out of a broken radio and use a hammer on it to squash it lengthwise. Then, you need to take a clothes hanger and put it into a blender to cut the hanger to a bit of wire, which you can then combine with the squashed spring to make a lockpick to unlock the lock. Convoluted nonsense like this permeates the game even in its simplest solutions, like when you're supposed to use a baseball you just found to throw against the wall for "hours" to finally wear it down to reveal a pipe, something you wouldn't think of unless you tried using the ball on everything in the room, which seems to be what the game expects of its player: Try everything until it works. It's no wonder that the "hint system" in this game is just an explicit walkthrough.

For all its affection for this bygone era, Randal's Monday lacks the perspective to realize the deep flaws in this style of game, instead mindlessly charging ahead and aping their formulas wholesale while fixing hardly any of them.

No Caption Provided

At least the concept behind the game is somewhat original. The titular character comes into contact with a cursed ring that causes him to live the same Monday over and over again, much like Bill Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog Day. Here, though, the things that Randal does each Monday persist, and reality bends to make the timeline make sense every new day. This makes for some bizarre situations, like a city infested with koala bears, but the game fails to make much interesting use of this conceit except as a framing device for wacky situations.

The influence of Groundhog Day goes beyond the game's premise, though. Randal is a cynical, borderline sociopathic delivery man who has an arsenal of sarcastic comments ready to hurl at people laced with insults and geek references aplenty. In other words, he's an edgier Phil Connors for the gamer generation. But that's all there is to the character, which gives you very little to laugh at when each conversation he wanders into becomes abuse after abuse. And he barely grows as a person by the end, staying exactly as unlikable as he started. Worse, the supporting characters in this story are just like him, giving him cynical lip right back with a low hum of misanthropy. Watching everyone in the game be the same brand of terrible to each other isn't even remotely entertaining.

The subway map makes getting around easier.
The subway map makes getting around easier.

As we know by now, adventure games are not doomed to be mere fossils. Telltale and many other devs have reimagined the genre in many new and exciting directions that honor the legacy of those that came before but without the design baggage that so plagued them in the first place. Randal's Monday is blind hero worship that ignores decades of design theory and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste thanks to its thoroughly unlikable, homogenous cast.

The Good
Nice, cartoony graphics
Fun pop culture references
The Bad
Frustrating, illogical solutions
Unlikable, abusive characters
Untapped potential of central premise
Convoluted progression
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Jeremy Signor spent over 20 hours puzzling over the nonsense in this game, even after breaking down and consulting the hint system numerous times.
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Amiga499

This game is a lot better than this review. I'm someone that plays fps, diablo3, civilization5 etc, and yet I like an adventure story every once in a while. This character (can easily tell) comes from a film called Clerks, a really smart and funny movie. The reviewer obviously missed a few links and the overall hilarity behind this kind of humor. I'm enjoying this game enough to write this comment. Hope more people play this. So far, I didn't have to use hints. It took me about 5-10 minutes to figure something out the few times I got stuck. Hope more people play this.

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Warriors30

Randal's Monday, a game that looks as if Family Guy and American Dad had a crack addicted, even less funny baby.

(I hereby grant full permission to put this on the back of the box, free of charge.)

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noah364

Great review. I can see what he means by the obscurity of old point and click games. I'm no p&c fan, but I bought Secret of Monkey Island for my iPad recently, and I've spent as much time reading the walkthrough as I have playing the game.

Avatar image for phbz
phbz

@noah364 I find that so bizarre. Me and my friends used to play point n click games all the time when we were kids and we always finished the games without walkthrough. And English wasn't our first language.


Sometimes it would take us weeks to get to the end, but that was never a bad thing, on the contrary. Today's gaming culture just changed dramatically.

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Elixir99

@phbz its because young gamers have attention spans of gnats and no logical reasoning and need to be told how to solve things via things glowing or a big pointer telling them go here now.

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noah364

@Elixir99 @phbz You know, I'm no 7 year old, but I have grown up and grown in to gaming during the 360/PS3/Wii generation, and I have to say its kinda true. I've been trained to enjoy games where I know exactly what I should be doing every minute. When I play point and clicks, I often struggle with them because as soon as I get stuck I get bored or frustrated after twenty minutes and leave to find something more accommodating. I don't necessarily think that this shift to the impatient is necessarily bad, but you're right that it definitely exists.


Avatar image for moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

@noah364 People have less time these days, I never enjoyed point and click games despite my general preference for logical thinking and intelligent gameplay. Part of that was because often the solutions weren't even remotely logical which made them feel like an exercise in time-wasting, the other problem was that the pay-off rarely matched the effort expended getting there. I'll happily spend hours working out the attack patterns of a boss or carefully constructing a PvP build in dark souls because the exhilaration of victory is always a great pay-off, but half an hour spent clicking everything in a room and then combining everything with everything else for a few lines of fun dialogue and minimal progression just doesn't hook me at all.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@noah364

Then you will probably despise the second, LeChuck's Revenge. It tosses believable logic out of the window and replaces it with cartoonish word-play logic for some of its puzzles - and it makes you remember a ridiculous song which occur early in the game for a later puzzle.

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naryanrobinson

This game was getting some really good scores and I couldn't for the life of me understand why...

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dani3po

@naryanrobinson Here´s the reason: Chauvinism. If you look in Metacritic, the two highest scores are from spanish webs (the game is from Spain).

Avatar image for Zacmaccraken
Zacmaccraken

@dani3po @naryanrobinson Agreed....just like that POS that was Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2.... I read in a spanish magazine where the game was "analyzed" (in seven pages!!!) the reviewer compared it to The Last of Us and Uncharted!!!! LOL!!! What a tool!!!

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Also, just to head off any apologists for this game, this is not Clerks.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Not everything Daedalic publishes is super, people - especially if it's not made by Daedalic itself.

Randal's Monday More Info

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  • First Released Nov 12, 2014
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    Save Randal from reliving the same Monday over and over again in a new point and click adventure from Daedalic Entertainment.
    5.6
    Average Rating9 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Randal's Monday
    Developed by:
    Nexus Game Studio
    Published by:
    Daedalic Entertainment, Nexus Game Studio
    Genre(s):
    Adventure