"Puzzle seekers in for a challenge should give Red Johnson a purchase. Figuring out if anything else worth looking forward to in the game is a puzzle best left unsolved."
'Red Johnson's Chronicles - One Against All' brings both brain and brawn to the PlayStation Network and, for the first time, Xbox Live. Attempting to solve the many logic puzzles in the game was an overwhelming yet welcomed challenge not often seen in video games these days. And here I thought puzzle adventure games were an after thought ever since a certain fictional toy maker closed his mansion doors in the 90's classics 'The 7th Guest' and 'The 11th Hour'. Having to analyze each obstacle instead of blast your way through map after map is not for most gamers but if given a chance more rewarding upon completion.
The game does suffer from mediocre voice acting and drawn out point and click investigating. Tack on random quick time events and the presentation might be more effective on tablet devices. Some newcomers to the franchise, especially those on the Xbox 360 version, will be thrown into the middle of Red Johnson's chronicles and might not find the characters that interesting as I did. Once completing a puzzle, all I looked forward to was the next. Everything in-between dragged and only delayed the next mind scratcher. The art style is a treat to scan around with but there isn't any life to inside it. It's the same feeling you'd get at a gallery…stop to observe then move along.
Puzzle seekers in for a challenge should give Red Johnson a purchase. Figuring out if anything else worth looking forward to in the game is a puzzle best left unsolved.
Warp Pipe had a chance to speak to Djamil Kemal, Marketing and Business Development Direct at Lexis Numérique, to answer some questions we had after reviewing the game:
Warp Pipe: What influenced the game’s unique art style?
Djamil Kemal: Red Johnson’s style has diverse inspirations. The objects, pieces of furniture and even the ads you can see on the wall are inspired by the U.S. '50s and '60s. But it's also a bricolage of four decades of chic ('60s leather jackets, '70s sideburns, '80s mobile phones, etc.) You can also see some Manga influences in there too.
WP: How does 'Red Johnson's Chronicles - One Against All' expand upon the point and click features of the first game, and why choose this particular play-style?
DM: We do believe that some players want to go back to the classics and adventure is experiencing a real revival. We’re really happy to see that studios like Telltate for instance, bring the adventure genre to new territories (e.g., The Walking Dead). Our DNA at Lexis is telling stories in unexpected ways. For the Red Johnson’s Chronicles games, our idea was to create a mix of adventure and puzzles. One of our key concerns though, was to do our best for the puzzles to be really good ones, not just a way to artificially make the game look longer. The other concern was that all the puzzles had to fit the context of the scenario.
WP: What kind of feedback did you get from fans of the first Red Johnson’s Chronicles, and how did you use that to make improvements in the sequel?
DM: We were really pleased to have overall positive reactions to the first title. People liked the concept, the style and the story line. The elements that needed to be improved were the hints and some of the animations, and we worked a lot on both. The help system is now totally contextual so that you can decide whether you want to get a very specific hint or not. The animations are also much better now, including lip synch and motion capture.
WP: Will there be any opportunities for co-op gaming in 'Red Johnson's Chronicles - One Against All'?
DM: No. RJCOAA is mainly a single-player game.
WP: The puzzles were one of the most interesting aspects of the first game. How have you improved and expanded on the puzzles and what players have to do to solve them?
DM: You’ll see that the puzzles are very diverse. In addition, some of them will have more depth than in the first game in the series, and you’ll sometimes face a puzzle within a puzzle. In order to make sure that the difficulty level in the game was balanced, we organized many playtests, and developed a valuable help system.
WP: Do you see the R.J. Chronicles franchise branching off into any other game genres? (For example, 2-D sidescroller or traditional RPG).
DM: It’s something we are currently discussing. No decision has been made as of now.