Playing a game that struggles to be funny is a chore. You fight to put up with the pithy dialogue and roll your eyes in frustration at the cheap voice acting. Thankfully, this is not the case with Randal’s Monday. You play as Randal Hick’s, a self-proclaimed kleptomaniac who unwittingly embarks on an adventure to uncover the mysteries surrounding an enigmatic ring. This gold ring was purchased by his best friend Matt Griffin off of an old bum for Doritos.
While that sounds like a good deal, this gold ring, which is also cursed, sets in motion a horrible string of events that somehow mess up the Space-Time Continuum. Randal, cleverly voiced by Jeff Anderson, is an unlikeable hero who apathetically rises to the challenge to save his friend and stop the endless cycle that has been put into place. Every time Randal wakes up, he quickly discovers that it is the same day all over again, but rather than it repeating exactly the same, such as it did in Ground Hog Day, things are gravely different each time.
Developed by Nexus Game Studios, Randal’s Monday is backed by a strong cast of voice actors including Jeff Anderson and Jason Mewes from Clerks. The writing is great and it had me laughing and grinning all the way through. In the center of this dark comedy is an enjoyable point and click adventure game that is very old school in nature. Proceeding further in the story is dependent upon you completing a myriad of puzzles that are solved by finding and combining items in your inventory. The game can be very challenging, and finally finding the right combination of items after dozens of minutes of experimenting is very rewarding.
The first time that I elected to enable the hint system I was greeted by warning messages that asked me if I was really sure I wanted to give up. After pushing down my pride I decided, sure, why not? I selected yes and another message let me know that if I wanted everyone to know that I was a chicken, to go ahead and enable hints. I, of course am no chicken, so I backed out of the menu and pressed on. It’s little things like this that help the entire experience to reflect the humor that the writers tried to convey. I’ll admit I eventually gave in and opted to be known as “A Chicken“, only to discover another message letting me know that every time I needed a hint unlocked I would kill a kitten. Talk about making me feel bad…
As a gamer and fan of all things cool, playing this game has been very rewarding. The environments are chalked full of pop culture and gaming references. Everything from Back to the Future, Portal and The Big Lebowski; this game has it all and it pays homage to many of the things I loved growing up. The gameplay as a whole is split between searching for items, combining them and then dialogue. While the combining of items in clever ways to solve puzzles usually makes sense and is rewarding once solved, the conversations are much weaker. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is funny and is voiced well, but the implementation is where the game mainly falls short. Whenever a conversation has begun, your responses are written out in full at the bottom of the screen and you can choose between them (usually 4), and then your character gets to say whatever you selected.
While I loved this format in many games, including Fallout 3, the reason other iterations work so well is because your character is silent. You can read your options and then select it and it is done. Since Randal verbally says whatever you choose, it ends up being rather boring hearing the dialogue that you’ve just got done reading. I think taking a Mass Effect approach to the dialogue where you get to choose emotions or types of sentences would be much better. The main reason being it would be better to hear the hilarious writing spoken for the first time rather than just reading it and having to listen to the character say it over again. The way that it is set up currently kind of puts Jeff Anderson’s talent to waste. Another gripe I have with the dialogue is that choosing a sentence does not meaningfully affect the responses given by whoever you are speaking to. The rest of the conversation is you clicking on all of the remaining options until they are exhausted and then you move on to more puzzle solving. It would be great if carefully choosing your comments actually had meaning, but no, all of the choices will be said before the talk is over.
Randal’s Monday is cynically dark in humor and intriguing in plot. The game constantly breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges that it is at the same time. Randal will ask questions that refer to the player and will blame you for his sociopathic behavior. This unique style of comedy fits well in this game and it meshes perfectly with the old school styled adventure games. On a disappointing note, the repetitive background guitar music slowly grates on you and muting it and playing your own tunes turns out to be a wonderful solution. The writing and voice acting is great, but the way it is implemented is disappointing. As a whole, Randal’s Monday is a success and rewards gamers of all types with nods to their childhood. Sadly, it is held back by some things which could potentially be fixed. If you enjoy laughing at games and solving absurd puzzles (with or without killing kittens) then give this game a go, it’s worth a buy.
A review copy of Randal’s Monday on Steam was provided by the Nexus Game Studios PR team, and is available to pre-order now ready for its release on the 12th November.