Please, make me forget.
A hero with amnesia, a broken down cyberpunk society, an evil corporation hell bent on populous control – these seem to be the staples of some more recent side-scrolling action games, and all of them are present in Randall; the new downloadable title by Mexican developers We The Force.
Randall, our titular hero, wakes up with no idea of who he is or where he is. He does however, have company; a voice in his head whose motives don’t seem totally clear. He is there to help and to hinder Randall, as well as trying to wind him up from time to time with the occasional insult. Randall soon discovers that the world he lives in is controlled by a mega-corporation, who uses oppressive tactics to maintain total control. Is he the man to cast out this evil presence? Can he use his tough fighting skills and newly acquired telepathy to save the day?
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Price I’d pay: $1.99
To be fair; I didn’t really care. Randall suffers from boring dialogue syndrome. There isn’t any voice acting to be heard here, with all conversations played out via text boxes, tiny, tiny text boxes. Bland in its design and writing, the dialogue barely kept me interested from the start. It also suffered from a glitch where the boxes wouldn’t disappear after the game prompts you to press X; causing me to constantly mash the X button, hoping to get the game going again. There are also a large amount of grammatical errors, which really annoyed me.
But that is the least of this game’s problems. It sets itself out as a platforming action game; with shades of Metroidvania. But both the action and the platforming are almost unbearable. Let’s start out with the action; using a variety of directions and the action button, Randall can punch and kick the various enemies. There are also a few air combos that can be instigated by uppercutting. But they are all just so repetitive and felt weak. Enemies can also surround Randall, and by using the O button, he can shove them out of the way. But this barely moves them at all, and does little to disperse the crowd. In actual fact, by using this technique, I often found myself being left open to attack by the other enemies. There are some cool environmental actions that Randall can trigger in order to get the upper hand, but these do little to amp up the action. Even after upgrading some of Randall’s moves, the action still left me feeling limp.
Boring action could have been overlooked a little, if the platforming sections were great; but alas, these are just as bad. Randall sets out its stall early on when it comes to platforming, focusing on precision and acrobatics and not just jumping from one platform to another. Many hazards litter each screen; spikes, electrical fences, laser beams to name just a few. I applaud the effort, but the execution missed by quite the mark. An awkward control scheme, coupled with unresponsive controls meant that I spent most of my time gripping the controller in anger. And don’t even talk to me about the sections where pixel perfect platforming is essential, as the jumping is just way too floaty to be of any effectiveness here. I literally spent almost 20 minutes trying to navigate a section of five platforms.
There are a few cool features lurking underneath all of this. Randall does have some telepathic abilities that allow him to take control of his enemies. It’s a little different and adds some flavor to the game. It also has a nice art style, going for something akin to a Klei game, a style I have always had a fondness for. This however, is ruined by some awful screen tearing, which in a platformer on a PS4 Pro should really not be an issue.
Overall I was left feeling empty whilst playing Randall. A game that tried very hard to shine with its varying gameplay styles, but ends up failing on all fronts; and totally messes up the platforming elements, making it frustrating to play.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.