Available On: PC, PS4
Developer: We The Force Studios
Publisher: We The Force Studios
Genre: Side-scrolling platformer
Official Site: http://randallgame.tumblr.com/
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Where To Buy: Steam, Playstation Store
Side-scrollers have long been my favorite types of games to play. With its core focus on pure gameplay and mechanic mastery, they tend to become some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that one can ask for, and that’s before you even get to the aspects of the story. With amazing side-scrolling platformers like Guacamelee, Axiom Verge, and Inside coming out this decade, the bar has definitely been raised on what a side-scroller can be, how it should feel, and what kinds of world they can transport you to. The game discussed in this article may not be on the same level as those mentioned above, but it has some interesting concepts that I haven’t seen in a game like this before.
Randall is a side-scrolling platformer developed and published by We The Force Studios that sets you in a dystopian city, not unlike that of Orwell‘s 1984. Fittingly to the name, you play as a character named Randall who wakes up underground with no memory of how he got there. Quickly you’ll find that you’re not the only one inside your head, as a second voice directs you through the different levels and sometimes even pushes you to commit violence against those around you and even yourself. That’s right, your character is schizophrenic, and as you continue further into the game, the more you submit to that voice, the greater access you have to various powers of mind control over those around you.
The world is separated into various sections, such as a subway, an academy, and a prison, and each area has a distinct desperate feel to it. Covered in cameras and brutes in SWAT-like uniforms, the city itself feels unsafe and suppressed. Along the way, you will run into some strange people who will send you off to free up another section of the city to fight the suppression. Each of these sections will require you to use a mastery of jumping techniques and your fighting abilities to scale walls and fight baddies until you finally find the boss of that area. As you fight back against them, the city will become even more challenging and dangerous, but so will your abilities.
As most of the game is a modern take on platforming, you’ll quickly discover, even in the very first section of the game, that Randall is a brutal experience. I pride myself on being pretty great at these types of games, and even I found myself dying very frequently while trying to figure out the proper techniques to get around the various electric traps or gas pipelines you run into. Fortunately, the spawn time is near immediate, meaning that each death is only an instance away from another try. This made the game feel extremely challenging while removing the barriers between you and another attempt. Unfortunately, you may spend more time battling the mechanics of the game than you will the actual platforming sections. I found on numerous occasions that after a number of attempts, it wasn’t the technique I was doing that was wrong, but the buttons I was pressing just weren’t doing the actions that they were supposed to. This is platforming kryptonite and quickly led to me getting irritated with Randall, as it wasn’t on the gamer but the game itself.
I also found that the fighting sequences (outside of the boss fights) never felt really interesting or fluid. As your character can only hit one enemy at a time with his punches, most of these fights just require you to punch and jump away rather than try to fight multiple people at once. The bigger issue is that while I enjoy the mechanics behind the boss fights, certain bosses have a way of locking you into damage loops, as they will hit you with one move and, while you are recovering, will hit you with another that you can’t dodge from. This will continue until you’re dead and your progress is lost. I quickly became frustrated when one hit from a boss would mean the death of me because all other hits were unavoidable.
Randall as a character, though, is a solid design. Every moment spent in your schizophrenia pushes his personality farther and farther, and you quickly begin to start questioning yourself and your decisions. While his purpose in this world starts out confusing, his cocky personality has an endearing aspect to it that makes you believe he’s just in the fight to be the hero (or anti-hero, depending on your perspective). It was interesting to watch his development as he spiraled more and more into his disease given abilities.
As an overall experience, the world and character of Randall makes for an intriguing time. The abilities are interesting and useful for navigating the many puzzles the game has to offer. The mechanics generally feel okay, but at certain times will start to malfunction and cause unnecessary deaths outside of the player control. Fighting sequences feel weak, and while boss fights are interesting times, death loops can break this and make things more annoying than challenging. I like the game for what it has to offer, but it still falls short of the titans of platforming this generation.
- Concise and compelling story
- Excellent callbacks to timely events
- Difficult choices that depend on player agency
- External links are fairly limited
- Some text options with unclear results
Hello there! I’m an English major with a deep, profound love for video games, music, and film.