Not Another Weekend is a hilarious story-driven, retro-themed Point-and-Click Adventure, set in a 1980s hotel. It has been developed by Animatic Vision and Dead Blue Friends and is published on PC via Steam by Dionous Games. In this wacky title, its bellhop protagonist attempts to get everyone at the Hotel 404 out by Sunday evening in a host of outlandish ways.
Not Another Weekend is available via Steam for £8.29.
Story – How Not to Run a Business
Not Another Weekend is a point-and-click adventure in the vein of the classic ‘90s Point-and-Click Adventures, such as The Secret of Monkey Island. The main difference is that Not Another Weekend is most definitely not intended for children, as its humour is frequently off the wall, rude, crude and thoroughly hilarious. Have you ever heard of a game where the best way to help a code-breaking octopus work out a key code is to give it an… er… ‘personal massager’ to compensate for its missing leg? Well, you have now.
For the most part, the plot is simple. It is the 1980’s, and you play the role of Mike, the scrawny, downtrodden and rather amoral bellhop of Hotel 404, a hotel that is somehow rated six stars despite being a bit of a dump. It is run by ‘Mr Boss’, the archetypal bad-tempered manager, complete with suit, cigar and receding hairline. Your co-workers are a motley crew of misfits and oddballs, as are the hotel’s guests – many of which are celebrities who have been attracted by its six-star ’opulence.’
Your task – for reasons I won’t spoil – is to get everyone in the hotel, guests, boss and coworkers alike, to leave by Sunday evening, via methods both fair and foul. This usually involves setting up chains of events that will either result in a character leaving the hotel to follow their dreams, or becoming so mad or scared that they storm off or run away. Have you ever wanted to give Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson’s character from the Lethal Weapon movies) a PTSD flashback via prank calls and saxophone music? If so, then this is the game for you! (Sort of – all the character’s names are parodies too, presumably to avoid copyright, libel etc.)
The game is comedy gold and it is genuinely funny – I haven’t laughed out loud with a game in a very long time. It is the oddball characters, their interactions, and the bizarre scenarios they find themselves in that provide much of the laughs. I will state now, however, that much of the game’s humour is contingent on the player remembering the 1980s, as pretty much every character is a parody of famous (at the time) celebrities, or their characters in movies, TV shows and the like. For players at least as old as me, this is fine; however, I suspect much of the humour may be lost on those who were born after 1990. The game is very self-aware that it is a game, and Mike frequently breaks the fourth wall, usually to insult you.
Gameplay – Retro Revamped
It’s a ‘Point and Click Adventure’, (P&CA) and follows all P&CA norms. For those unfamiliar with them, this entails exploring the game world, inspecting objects, talking to NPCs, solving puzzles, fetching items etc. There is no combat, you cannot ‘die’, there are no quick-time events, nor is there a time limit. This creates a relaxing, zero pressure experience that does not tax the player’s reflexes, multi-tasking skills, hand-eye coordination etc.
This results in a very low barrier to entry, as even those who would not typically consider themselves ‘core gamers’ should be able to pick it up and play without difficulty. Its ‘potato PC friendly’ low minimum specs are also a blessing, as the game should run on any pc or laptop with a 64-bit CPU and operating system.
The Jerk – That’s You That Is
I would also describe Not Another Weekend as a ‘Jerk Simulator’ or ‘Annoy ‘em up’, since you spend much of your time trying to be a total jerk to everyone. I first made up these terms back in the 1980s to describe games such as the delightfully titled ‘How to Be a Complete Bastard’, the aim of which was to get everyone at a house party to leave by being a total jerk to them. Not Another Weekend (NAW) could be thought of as its modern equivalent; however, NAW is a far better game in every respect.
The game has introduced several Quality-of-Life innovations that rectify some of the problems plaguing the early Point and Click Adventures. For a start, pressing the space bar highlights everything on screen that can be interacted with in some fashion. This is a very welcome feature, as it avoids having to waste time hunting for the interactable pixels hidden amongst all the pretty on-screen artwork, an issue common to several of the ‘90s Point and Click Adventures.
Secondly, the cursor is context-sensitive, and mousing over something will show if it can be picked up, inspected, interacted with or if it is someone that can be talked to.
Thirdly, your combined map/task list/intel sheet enables Mike to teleport between floors, which saves time. Unfortunately, Mike cannot teleport between rooms. However, I suspect this is deliberate, as events happen in the hallways too, which players might miss if they were teleporting from room to room. There are a few points in-game where this ability is removed, at least temporarily. You will definitely miss this ability when it is gone. Thankfully the hotel isn’t that big, so navigating it on foot is not too difficult or time-consuming. Note that some of the rooms are wider than the screen, so remember to explore them fully to avoid missing anything.
Brain Bending – But Not Too Much
Most of the puzzles are fairly simple once you get your head around the wacky logic the game uses, and I only had to resort to looking up a puzzle solution once. This was when trying to work out how to pry the cover off a fuse box. I was looking for a crowbar or similar, and I was having no luck finding one. It turned out the coin I was already carrying was the tool I needed. I was able to work out how to touch the wires without electrocuting myself easily enough – you use an ‘adult film’ actress’s G-string, obviously! (It was the only other thing in my inventory, so I figured ‘let’s try it and see what happens’.)
Achievements For Art Aficionados
There were several other occasions where I was stuck for what to do next, which inevitably resulted in my clicking on everything and trying to use every item with everything else – which naturally Mike will scold you for since he is a total jerk. I eventually worked out that if you appear to have run out of things to do, go speak to the barman, whose sage wisdom will likely unlock the next task.
Note that all in-game tasks are vital to the game’s completion – there are no optional side quests or similar. That said, some of the game’s many achievements are optional, however. An excellent example is the ‘art connoisseur’ achievement, which you achieve by reading the self-indulgent descriptions of the hotel’s paintings, which are so cringe-worthy they could have come straight out of a certain rudely titled website the editor probably won’t let me name.
Deep Pockets – But Not Too Deep
Thankfully, every ‘pickupable’ item you encounter has a use, so you do not have to worry about filling your inventory with useless junk. Inventory management is one of the games weaker aspects, however, as it lacks a sorting system. This can result in items appearing ‘off-screen’ with multiple blank cells in between them, which makes it easy to forget you are carrying them. A simple sort feature that would move all items into the leftmost empty slots would have fixed this. Luckily, the number of items you need to carry at any one time is fairly low, so this is rarely a problem.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I encountered a potentially game-ending bug near its final chapter. Specifically, I was unable to dip the curtain tie back rope’s tassel into not-Cthulhu’s inkpot (don’t ask), which prevented progression. A quick look at YouTube proved this was a bug. Thankfully, reloading an earlier save fixed the issue. Speaking of saving, the game does not auto-save, nor is there a quick save feature, so be sure to make manual saves frequently.
Edit: As specified by the developer, the game does in fact include an autosave feature. By clicking continue from the main menu the game automatically boots up at the last time you entered or exited a room, or move between floors.
Audio and Graphics – Ugly Beautiful
The graphics can best be described as ‘low fi’. It is pixel art, and particularly ropey pixel art at that, so it objectively looks bad. On the other hand, it fits the game perfectly. A quick look at Dionous’ upcoming Watch over Christmas suggests they are not lacking for skill in the art department, which suggests Not Another Weekend’s 8-bit retro art style graphics are deliberate. The game features an in-game Atari 2600, and I suspect the game’s art style is attempting to mimic the graphics of such vintage consoles.
Despite its low-fi graphics, it is easy to recognise who the game’s characters are based on, their facial expressions, body language etc. The simple, uncluttered graphics work in its favour from a gameplay perspective too, as they further aid in locating items and points of interest. The game’s colour palette is bright and garish – exactly what something set in the ’80s should be.
Most of the game’s music is simple, jaunty and unobtrusive, but generally unremarkable. It creates the right tone without becoming distracting. Sound effects and brief moments of alternative music tracks help to liven up the soundscape.
One thing to note, however, is that the game lacks any form of voice acting. This includes the text-to-speech pseudo-voice acting some PC games and mods can make use of. This might cause accessibility issues for those with reading difficulties, or for players for whom English is a second language. Thankfully, the text is generally short and simple, which should help alleviate this somewhat.
The game was reviewed on PC, with a Steam review key provided by publisher Dionous Games.