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Randal's Monday review: Pop culture jokes can't save this point-and-click's poor puzzles

Hayden Dingman | Nov. 26, 2014
"We all wish we could go back and change some of the mistakes we've made in our lives, but what happens when the man who's been given that opportunity is a sociopathic, kleptomaniac, good-for-nothing moron?"

Every day is the worst day of my life

It's a shame because the grander story is a solid time travel adventure a la Twilight Zone. After a night of heavy drinking, Randal finds himself in possession of a golden ring. The only problem is the uncontrollable curse on the ring, which causes Randal to relive the same Monday over and over again like an alcoholic, manic version of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

The key to Randal's salvation seems to lie in the fact that he can manipulate events each day instead of the universe resetting every night. Any object that Randal interacts with will retain that state the next day. To avoid paradoxes, the universe rewrites history around Randal's actions.

For example, early in the game you'll escape your apartment through the fire escape, which breaks during your descent and clatters to the ground. The next day when you wake up the fire escape is still broken. Not only that, but your landlord swears the fire escape has been broken for years because how else could you explain waking up on a Monday morning before Randal would've broken the fire escape only to find it already broken?

And that's just the start of things. The story winds itself around and around so many times that it's hard to even decipher what's a plot hole and what's not, which is a good thing as far as time travel stories are concerned — it's so convoluted you eventually just go with it.

The real issue with Randal's Monday, and the reason it's hard to recommend to anyone, is that it's just about impossible to play. Most games nowadays shy away from what's commonly termed "Adventure Game Logic" or "Moon Logic" — in other words, puzzle solutions that are based in puns, wordplay, or outright lunacy instead of realism.

Adventure Game Logic was a staple of 90s point-and-clicks like Maniac Mansion or the Gabriel Knight series. The problem is that the puzzles require the player to think in the same way as the puzzle designer, which makes them hard to balance for difficulty.

Randal's Monday is full of crazy puzzles. Some take advantage of the game's time travel conceit, which is fair, but there are a number of puzzles where I read (yes, read, as in "looked up") the solution and shook my head in disbelief because there's no way in hell I ever would've come up with the correct sequence of steps to solve it. There are some items that are used for multiple unrelated puzzles. There are some items you'll never use in the entire game that still take up inventory space. If you examine items in your inventory, sometimes those items will break down into more items.


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