My time with the first three levels of Randal’s Monday revealed a game attempting to appeal to a very specific audience, one that’s enamored by a plethora of geek culture references, but I’m not sure it’s such a good thing. Nexus Game Studios seems to be placing their bets solely on Jeff Anderson’s (Clerks & Clerks II) distinctly sarcastic voice to bring life to the protagonist, however, the homages and jokes that he delivers seem to be a substitute for actual gameplay.
Randal’s Monday begins by immersing players into the world of Randal Hicks, a character that Nexus describes best as a kleptomaniac, sociopath, and all around awful friend. These defining character traits lead him to pawn his best friend Matt’s engagement ring, thereby causing Matt to commit suicide and triggering the ring’s hidden curse in the process.
Randal is forced to live this tragic Monday over and over again endlessly, until he can find a way to set things right. If you’re thinking Groundhog Day, you’re absolutely correct, but this simple twist cleverly finds its way into the gameplay experience by deviating from pure imitation and altering each Monday in slightly different ways. This means that as you collect items, courtesy of Randal’s kleptomania, you find yourself facing a variety of challenges that allow you to make use of the protagonist’s twisted personality.
Encouraging variety in the core gameplay keeps the game moving forward, but many of the items you are required to pick up are easily skipped over. This creates an opportunity for the player to experience a range of frustrating situations. For instance, faced with the task of scoring a subway pass from a negligent ticket taker, there’s absolutely no indication of what item you’re supposed to have. Turns out that you should have scavenged a small bottle of super glue, which I found after bouncing back and forth between environments for fifteen minutes, randomly clicking like a madman until I found the hidden tube on a secluded trash can.
Now, I’m not one to complain about a difficult puzzle, but when puzzles rely on solutions that have no solid clues to go on, it significantly lowers the possibility of engaging with the game on an entertaining level. I felt stripped of control and lost in an endless sea of pop culture references.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the humor and references of Randal’s Monday. Rather, it’s that almost every moment of the game’s dialogue feels cluttered by these attempts and, in many ways, it feels as though the writer placed them haphazardly. In spite of some cringe-worthy jokes and dialogue, the game successfully incorporates the satirical references into the very design of the environments themselves.
Without doubt, the presentation of Randal’s Monday will be one of the biggest draws for point-and-click adventure fans. The game’s humor is fused with the art style and presentation, which gives the title an indisputable charm that quickly fades when you’re forced to endure those painful stretches of mundane dialogue.
After finishing my time with Randal’s Monday, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Nexus Game Studios might be relying too heavily on the appeal of Jeff Anderson’s voice acting and the insane amount of geek culture references the game embraces. In spite of this, there are moments when the title comes together, and when it does, it’s definitely a point-and-click adventure worth checking out.