Anyone who’s ever had a job where you’ve had to work weekends will tell you that Saturdays and Sundays soon become meaningless — even dreaded. Instead, it’s all about taking whatever free time you can get, especially in the service industry. Demanding customers, shouty and stupid bosses… wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just get everyone to, well, go away?
Take this thinking and run it through some surprisingly darkly comical filters and you have Not Another Weekend from Dionous Games. Developed by Dead Blue Friends and Animatic Vision, Not Another Weekend is set in the glory days of the 1980s, and is richly retro-styled in funky pixel art to match. With witty writing and a thoughtfully designed interface, the stage is set for weary bellboy Mike to sabotage his own career in emptying the hotel he works for of its obnoxious guests and equally insufferable personnel.
It’s been a hell of a good summer for point and click adventure games, from sordid mansions to dark forays into the realms of strangest madness, meaning we almost made the mistake of overlooking this title — a mistake we urge you not to replicate!
Not Another Weekend digs deep into its 1980s settings and aesthetics alike to deliver a punchy and well-paced experience. This means the game feels like something LucasArts and the like could have cooked up circa ’89 into 1993 or so — but also that a lover of adventure games can get examining, picking up and poking about the hotel in short order.
Controls feel right, in other words, and puzzles follow a tried and tested rhythm of finding a problem, stealing the solution or distracting the individual responsible for perpetrating it. A fine adventure game tradition is getting rid of people who stand in the way of our heroes getting what they want — playing a game where this is the central theme is a joy, yet the reasons as to why Mike wants the hotel empty are far more scrumptiously sinister than simply ‘just don’t fancy going to work this weekend’.
Some adventure games… you play them and you have to wonder if you’re really the good guy in all this, you know? Maybe it’s all the stealing, maybe it’s the poking around in places you ought not to be instead of staying home… and sometimes you’re just playing someone you know is a bit of a scoundrel. In Not Another Weekend, well… let’s just say Mike the bellhop has his own agenda, and he’s determined to see it through before Monday!
The interface does a fantastic job in keeping you on top of this goal. Naturally, your inventory is clear to see, with icons for all the random bits and bobs you’ll be swiping to further Mike’s agenda. but you also have a pager, true 1980s style, to receive new objectives from other characters around the hotel — as well as a marker showing how far through the titular weekend you are, and how many souls you’re yet to evict from the hotel.
Having this kind of top-level overview of your objectives and sense of progress is comparatively rare in adventure games, yet Not Another Weekend doesn’t lack in surprises and intrigue by — quite literally — mapping out what you’re meant to be doing. It’s actually really handy to keep up to date with the varied cast of characters you’ll meet too!
A sense of cynical and sarcastic humour permeates this title, all underpinned by jazzy quirky hotel tunes. No jokes ever outstay their welcome, however, and neither do puzzles seem to actively work against the player in terms of logic or pacing.
It’s always a creatively brave choice to focus a game on one location for almost the entire experience, yet this works in Not Another Weekend‘s favour because you’ll need to learn the ins, outs, quirks and perks of this ‘six star’ hotel in order to succeed in Mike’s malicious agenda.
Mike is an interesting character, having learned to use the fact that nobody respects him all too much or notices him altogether often to his advantage. Many of the characters he meets are egotistical, objectionable and a real joy to boot out of the hotel one way or another… although keep your eye out for a few choice allies in the hotel who seem just as twisted as our beloved bellboy…
Spending the weekend playing through Not Another Weekend has been a real treat, and goes to show that this title has all the makings of a cult classic — a forgotten gem of 1980s adventure games, yet released in 2021! For anyone into puzzles, adventure games or storylines that swerve into some creepy yet comedic places before the runtime’s over, this is a game that’s definitely not to be missed.
But Mike… dear, sweet, sinister Mike… we may never be able to see hotel staff the same way ever again now we’ve spent so many enjoyable hours in your shoes…!