Everything is basically a mixture of other things. It's lazy journalism, to be sure, but it can be fun to hand-wave things as the combinations that they most closely resemble. Bioshock? It's just The Fountainhead crossed with the Poseidon Adventure. Game of Thrones is Lord of the Rings crossed with Eastenders. And Randal's Monday is Groundhog Day crossed with The Secret of Monkey Island.
Simple. Monkey Island because of the point-'n'-clicky puzzly mirthful goodness, but also because your character lives on Threepwood Street and... well, more on this later. Groundhog Day because the story of the game is basically Groundhog Day 2, without Bill Murray.
The first thing that made me really happy about Randal's Monday is that it is a full game. It is sort of sad to have to say that, but I began the game assuming I was playing episode 1 of an episodic game, and then wondering why it wasn't ending when I got more than about two hours in. But no - it's a full game. No waiting (and paying all over again) for more game in a few more months. There's plenty of Monday to enjoy.
Perhaps that's because it would be difficult to split the game into chapters that were suitably different from one another. See, Randal is trapped in time, waking up every day on a Monday morning that won't end, thanks to a cursed magical ring (so, maybe more like Lord of the Rings crossed with Groundhog Day. But I'd already used Lord of the Rings in my other example). However, things are always slightly different. One character loves you a little bit less (and looks a little more attractive) each and every day, another changes appearance, or nationality, or... well, the little differences between the first few Mondays provide much of the genuine comedy - and interest - in the story.
Beyond that, it's a laundry list of in-jokes and pop-culture references that leans more heavily on the references than the jokes. The first time you see the sign for Threepwood Street, it's funny. But when every single street in town is another Lucasarts adventure reference, the comedy is rapidly replaced by something else. Homage, perhaps. Or maybe just laziness?
It's not just video games. Huge quotes from every "guy movie" from about 1985 through to about 2000 is quoted here. Notable favourites seem to be Terminator 2, Blade Runner and Ghostbusters, although Star Wars and Star Trek get some pretty thorough quoting as well. It's not painful exactly, just not hugely inspired when it's just out-and-out quotes with the minimum of relevance or context.
Which is sort of made up for by some pretty strong characters, almost all of whom are very well voice acted. For the better part of the game you're limited to an area no larger than about twenty screens or so, but the central idea is that even as you revisit the same locations over and over again, things are not as you remember them. Still, you are essentially visiting the same locations round and round, albeit with different puzzles - this is why maybe the game wouldn't have survived as episodic.
Puzzle challenge is pretty good, and without using the hint system you can expect a pretty decent lifespan from Randal's Monday. Disk space and system requirements are what you'd expect from a point-and-clicker - that is to say, one of the selling points. Oh, and there's Jay and Silent Bob. Just, you know, randomly hanging around in the game here and there. It's hard to say exactly why, but they fit fairly well into the game's sense of humour so it's hard to begrudge them, although their inclusion does feel weirdly random.
As a 'spiritual successor' to the old-school Lucasarts adventures of yesteryear, which is clearly how it styles itself, it's good. The mixture of an involving plot, throwaway comedy (the sheer volume of which makes up in part for the fact that very little makes you actually laugh out loud) and the engaging and well-written characters certainly fires some long-dormant adventure memories, and that's a good thing. The mountain of pop-culture references really do expect you to have seen every movie and played every game that came out in the nineties, and this wistful nostalgia is occasionally bittersweet, sometimes grating.
Maniacal mansioners, Leisure suit lounge lizards and grog-swilling pirates will have a fine time. Teenagers will probably be hopelessly confused. But as a stand-alone adventure, with all the nostalgia stripped away, it's still pretty good.