Red Johnson’s Chronicles: Episode One
System: Playstation 3
Publisher: Lexis Numérique
Developer: Lexis Numérique
Release Date: May 3, 2011
No, this title is not innuendo for something else.
The unfortunately named Red Johnson’s Chronicles: Episode One is a point-and-click adventure game that is essentially a mashup of Professor Layton and Heavy Rain. You play as Red Johnson, a private investigator who has just been hired to solve the murder of one of the most hated men in town. During the investigation, Red meets an interesting array of characters, nearly all of whom seem to have something to hide. The gameplay is a mix of solving puzzles, questioning suspects, and surviving occasional quick time events. While the game is rated M for Mature due to language/violence, the subject matter is all very much tongue-in-cheek with some lighthearted humor thrown in. This balance is very much appreciated.
RJC’s puzzles, the main focus of the game, are typically challenging and many require some serious thought. Thankfully, there is a hint system in place that can be used if necessary. There is also a good amount of variety in the puzzles, which helps keep things fresh. This is definitely a strong suit of the game.
The addition of quick time events, while initially intriguing, is more of a nuisance than anything else. The QTEs are all too brief, and one wrong button press means you fail the entire event. Since you are only given a very quick look at each icon, it is incredibly easy to miss the signal in time. There aren’t too many of these events in the game, but they still could have been tweaked to make them fit in better.
Aesthetically, Red Johnson’s Chronicles succeeds in creating a dark, grimy world, and it has the feel of a solid crime noir. The voice acting could use some work (especially the over-the-top Sal stereotype), but it does give the game a more personalized feel.
Red Johnson’s Chronicles will last between 6-8 hours overall, which is a good length for a PSN adventure title. It is great to see a new console point-and-click game, and hopefully Lexis Numérique is encouraged to continue the saga. With some modifications here and there (such as adding more locations and fixing the QTEs), this could rise near the top of the genre. As it stands, RJC is a solid effort that is worth a look for fans of the genre.