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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?"

And trying out any solution requires opening your inventory, selecting an item, then selecting another item or an object in the environment. If it didn't work, you have to reopen your inventory, select the same item, then select a different object in the environment. It only takes a few seconds each time, but when you're stuck and you're determined not to cheat you'll start the "combine every item with every other item" nonsense that's a hallmark of classic adventure games, and it's just not very fun.

For instance, an early puzzle has you take a glass bottle, fill it up with water across the street, walk back, boil the water, stick a cue ball into a cannon built into a cuckoo clock (getting that cue ball is another ten-step walkthrough in and of itself), then attaching the boiling water to the clock with a hose to get steam to propel the ball out to break a glass case. Phew.

There is a built-in hint system, but it's more of an in-game walkthrough. The game flat-out tells you the solutions to each puzzle, step-by-step, instead of prodding you in the right direction. But as I said, there's a good chance you'll need its help at some point or another — this is one of the hardest, most unintuitive adventure games I've played in ages. If that's what you're looking for, great. Otherwise, be forewarned.

Bottom line

It's a shame I didn't have much fun playing Randal's Monday because I think the Twilight Zone story aspects of the game are pretty strong. Randal's a jerk of a character, but he's decent fun to listen to and dialogue is across-the-board solid (though at times overwritten to accommodate an excessive number of references).

But it's all covered in a thick miasma of empty pop culture, with all the oomph of a Big Mac box on the side of a highway. I opened by saying this is like Clerks, but it's not really. Clerks, for all its exploration of Jersey existentialism and day-to-day rote living, had something to say about the pop culture it steeped itself in. Characters had strong opinions. There's a reason that the discussion of contract workers on the Death Star has made its way into cultural infamy — it took Star Wars as an inspiration, but then added onto it. Randal's Monday has nothing to add.

And the puzzles are aggravating like sand in your bathing suit after a swim, except you can only get the sand out by putting crabs down your pants and you fashioned the crabs out of tin foil and a pair of tweezers.


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