Randal’s Monday is an adventure game with its heart in the right place but also one that missed a few crucial turns on its road to completion. What’s left is a game that’s flawed but will still appeal to hardcore fans of the genre and the productions it frequently references.
Randal’s Monday is an homage in videogame form. It stays very close to its root as an adventure game, but also is crammed full of references to popular culture – ranging from movies to videogames to TV series and spanning several decades. In a sense, this is ironic, because the game’s premise is all about its title character reliving the same day over and over again (Groundhog Day, anyone?).
In this case, a magical ring causes Randal to start the same day over every time it ends. Some things, however, carry over to the next iteration of that day. Finding an item later in the day that you could have used earlier might mean that you have it with you the next time you play through that day – pushing the story forward a little more each time.
The story itself is absolutely littered with pop culture references, usually of the geeky sort. Expect plenty of sci-fi, videogame and cult movie nods along the way, which is great stuff for fans of that genre. For them, this is probably also more than enough to keep them going despite the game’s design flaws in terms of puzzle design and story progression.
While the game tries to stay close to the many pop culture icons it references, it also stays a little too close to some of the characteristics of adventure games from 20 or so years ago. What I’m referring to, of course, is seemingly random puzzle solutions that defy most (if not all) logic and frantic clicking on items in your inventory to see if perhaps they combine into something useful.
Perhaps acknowledging how frustrating this can get, the game’s developer have included a hint system that can give you subtle hints or clearly laid out solutions depending on how much help you need. This prevents you from getting stuck or even giving up on the game completely, but also takes away some of the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment.
Randal’s Monday is therefore a game best enjoyed by those who really appreciate geeky references to pop culture. Adventure game purists will find some of the game design choices to be deal-breakers for them, but if the game’s tone strikes a chord with you then you’re likely to enjoy it. Watching about two minutes of gameplay can probably help determine if you’re in that group or not – we are and enjoyed playing through the game’s storyline as a result, but the game’s not for everyone.