Randal’s Monday – What We Think:
The self-proclaimed black comedy that is the adventure game Randal’s Monday begins with an animatic tribute to the Twilight Zone featuring kitsch items and frat house sell-offs. This sort of self-conscious, 1990’s Cameron Crowe/National Lampooning will continue for the rest of the ride. It foreshadows the strange rip in the Spacetime-continuum you will soon attempt to escape like so much Bill Murray after you invariably perform a deplorable, incompassionate act.
Right off the bat, Randal’s Monday feels like a polished product: some nice shallow depth depth of field effects, an intuitive, simple control scheme, chunky, easy to use menus, saving system and Quit, and an eye-catching hand-drawn animation style typical of Daedelic releases. Voice acting is pretty good too, featuring Jeff Anderson as Randal Hicks and even Jason Mewes (Jay from Jay and Silent Bob.)
Waiting For Groundhog Day
But the brooding, cynical, Gen X attitude coupled with sometimes seemingly endless dialogue trees that invariably loop around to the same few choices make this a slow-paced chore. Couple that with adult language and scatological humor and it is harder to determine whom, exactly this is for? Middle-aged post-punk, post-modern pop cultural savants? Jaded teenagers with really long attention spans? OK. But it isn’t 1992 anymore. Also, this game is dark. Like The Dwarves or GG Allin – but for all of its presumed counter-culturalism it leans more towards the insipid.
Have Courage in Your Evictions
My aging, curmudgeonly tastes aside, even if the game takes us to Robert Zemeckis-like places of suburban magical-realistic wonder, I find it doubtful most will endure that far into the action. In fact this was the second game I played in a week that started off with being ejected from my crappy apartment, except this one took three times as long to get going.
I can’t really fault the game for its production value, but – as Will Wright once said – there are 5 second, 5 minute and 5 hour cycles to a game. If the 5 second cycle doesn’t work, the 5 hour cycle – no matter how deep, or spectacular, will be meaningless. In this case, there is just a lot of wry banter with too little progression in exchange at any given phase and I found it a test of my will to push through to any palpable sense of a happening.
There are RPG Maker games that are far more engrossing and fast-paced. There may be a lot of people out there that find this blend of humor, animation and adventure far more appealing than I now do (I may have loved it in the early 90’s) but the world moves to fast for so little to happen, especially over territory that has been over-covered for so long.
Solve for Gen X
And then there are the puzzles. The Hint system literally scoffs at you for reaching towards it, and that would be just fine if there was any actual logic or reason the the puzzles that begin to emerge in the second chapter (the first is more of an endurance test for set-up and logorrhea). These are the sorts of puzzles that essentially require you to play 20 questions with their designer. “OK, so do you mean this? Are you thinking like…THIS? Are you being clever like…THIS?” Mercy.
Tapping the Space Bar does reveal all interactive objects in a room, which is nice, but often the objects do nothing and in many cases don’t even offer a funny description. It all starts to become a big time sink and that is when my interest in all the pop cultural references and inside jokes for people apparently in the same demographic as I, turned towards resentment. When I saw that my time was just kind of being wasted.
Unfortunately, I also had some strange technical hiccups. If I was running any sort of video intensive software in the background – say a video capture tool or editor, that software would crash instantly upon launching Randal’s Monday. Similarly, in some cases I couldn’t exit out of the game and instead had to do a hard reboot of my computer. It seems to be a graphics card conflict. The system I was using had an Nvidia Quadro 2000 with the latest drivers. It runs CryEngine just fine, so not sure what is going on with that. In another instance, the sound just stopped playing back in the game. I had to restart it to get things back to normal.
Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays
I’m afraid this is one of those instances where I must use the old cliche that I REALLY wanted to like this; on paper it looks like a wild romp with a great cast, but in application it is long-winded, slow moving, and just too glib to get me hot and bothered.
Watch the launch trailer for Randal’s Monday: