Crammed with geek culture references, Randal’s Monday shows potential as a point-and-click adventure game, but fails to deliver an engaging or innovative experience. You play Randal, who, after stealing his best friend’s engagement ring, awakens to discover that the ring is cursed and his friend is dead. Randal is forced to live that Monday repeatedly, Groundhog Day-style, until he sets everything right.
The overall story is promising, but its writing is simultaneously obnoxious and lacking in substance. Although well-intentioned, the insane number of geek culture references become tiring and forced after a while. There’s also an uncomfortable sexist overtone with references to “Super Hot Chick”, a Wonder Woman lookalike whose lingerie catalog (of all things) is a key item in the story.
Likewise, the puzzles—a crucial element of any good adventure game—are neither engaging nor rewarding. Scant game logic and convoluted, unclear solutions produce a frustrating experience: getting a Metro ticket involves rummaging through an unmarked trashcan in a different area to find superglue; getting out a window requires using a hammer (in your inventory) on an icicle, and then using the icicle on the window. The game tries too hard to be clever, and ends up being annoying.
Clicking the “kill a kitten” button opens a walkthrough, but you’ll have to kill copious kittens to reach your desired hint. Given the obscurity of some solutions, it’s also wearisome to have to rely heavily on the walkthrough, which contains spelling errors and bugs, and at one point even caused my game to crash.
However, some redeeming features exist. The point-and-click mechanic is smooth, with helpful options for highlighting the interactive objects in an area. Additionally, the cartoony art style, reminiscent of Lucasarts-era Sam and Max, is perfectly suited for the game. Randal’s voice acting (by Jeff Anderson from Clerks) is apt for his snarky delivery, and the soundtrack is catchy. Still, these aesthetics do little to cover the other flaws.
Randal’s Monday has a decent premise, but a disappointing execution. Still, it’s worth trying for those nostalgic for old-school adventure games, although it certainly doesn’t live up to the originals to which it pays homage.