Back in the early 2000s, if you had asked me whether or not I would’ve enjoyed playing an old-school point-and-click adventure game featuring Randal from Kevin Smith’s cult classic Clerks, my answer would have been a resounding, “Absolutely.” Fusing the humor and wit of Smith’s beloved comedy with my singular passion of gaming would have been a no-brainer. Currently, however, I’m not sure why Nexus Game Studios felt the need to revisit characters from the Clerks universe, and transplant them into a world with an inordinate amount of pop culture references.
Randal’s Monday follows Randal; a selfish, lazy, kleptomaniac. As we’re first introduced to the character, we find him appropriately getting wasted with his best friend Matt and his fiancé as the couple celebrates their engagement at a local pub. After a heavy night of drinking, Matt loses both his wallet and ring, the latter of which Randal recovers only to ultimately sell off at a local pawn shop in order to ensure his rent gets paid. After this foolish decision, Randal discovers his best friend has committed suicide, and kicks off a Groundhog Day-inspired journey that forces him to relive his Monday endlessly, until he can discover a way to close the loop.
Setting out Monday after Monday to write Randal’s wrong draws upon classic point-and-click adventure game elements. This means setting you loose in the town to find items of interest, engaging in conversations, and solving numerous puzzles along the way. While this is standard fare for the genre, numerous problems arise with the game’s core content. Considering Randal’s Monday’s focus on exploration, Randal’s slow movement, coupled with long load times between areas, results in an experience that becomes tiresome very quickly. Luckily, the game’s soundtrack is a welcome surprise, providing a reprieve from the tyranny reigning down upon your movement throughout the stylized world.
Randal’s interaction with the environments around him isn’t the only problem, as Randal’s Monday implements numerous puzzles that are nonsensical and practically force you into activating the hint system, which ensures you pay attention and makes you feel unintelligent. Now, it wouldn’t necessarily be a problem to rely on hints occasionally, but each use delivers a step-by-step breakdown of the actions required to solve the challenge at hand. So, rather than being an aid, the “hint system” gives everything away. While most of these puzzles are simply impossible to figure out without blindly guessing, there a few that reward you with supreme satisfaction after finally discovering the solution you searched for hours to find.
Considering the game’s nature as a point-and-click adventure, the allure of branching dialogue presents a valid opportunity to fully engage players in an otherwise lacklustre adventure. However, Randal’s Monday never capitalizes on this chance. Listening to Randal’s dialogue is a treat in and of itself, with Jeff Anderson reprising his role as Randal. That said, regardless of your choices there will always be a singular solution to progressing the story. This becomes a tedious exercise in false player choice. Eventually you discover that what Randal says doesn’t really matter; rather, it has much more to do with the sarcastic and snarky ways that he delivers each line.
Listening to each piece of dialogue begins to quickly feel like you are sitting in the back of the writer’s room, lurking in the shadows of the fourth wall, as each pop culture reference is simultaneously rattled off and cataloged for use in the game. Nearly every line exists as a nod to some type of pop culture reference. Many are well written and cleverly placed, but ultimately, Randal’s Monday becomes oversaturated by the geek love it attempts to spread.
Randal’s Monday is an adventure game created for a niche audience (geeks) that never attempts to expand its reach. If you happen to be searching for an old school point-and-click adventure game that will challenge your powers of perception to Herculean limits while also feeding an insatiable desire for geek culture, then Randal’s Monday shall be your savior.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which we were provided with.
Randal's Monday has many things going against it, but fans of Clerks, Jeff Anderson, and unrelenting geek culture references will find a hardcore point-and-click adventure with plenty of storyline to justify its $25 price tag.