Release Date: September 12th, 2012
Developer: Lexis Numerique
Publisher: Lexis Numerique
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], Playstation 3
Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Rated: M for Mature
Adventure-Puzzle type games are pretty tricky when it comes to delivering an all-around solid experience. Adventure-Puzzle games have been around since the text based ones back on Windows DOS. They play with your mind and test your overall problem solving and judgement skills. Red Johnson tries hard to deliver a puzzled crammed adventure but in the ultimatum, it tries too hard.
The overall plot to Red Johnson seems to be thrown together in a few minutes based on plenty of movie cliche’ scenarios. That isn’t to say cliche’d scenarios are all bad as they can be quite amusing and exceptional when well done. You play as Red Johnson, a unconventional detective who has a bounty on his head after greasing a prestigious thug. Now to get back at you, a mysterious antagonist kidnaps your brother and leaves a strange computer and severed finger to your possession. On a few side notes, I don’t get how Red Johnson got any sort of license to practice his craft because his backstory given in the game leads me to believe he never attended a school, technical college, or law enforcement training program. His dress style makes him look more like a thug than anything and is really out of character for what he does to make a living.
Saul comes in on the scene to be your partner in this case. Saul appears to be a pimp of some sorts and you can look to him for advice when you get stuck. Why he would know more then you, considering you are the detective, I have no idea. You gain money and a grade based upon your performance when solving the puzzles. If you become stuck, you can use your money to get Saul’s help. The puzzles are all for you to solve still so Saul apparently is just there to help those who have never played a puzzle game in their entire life. All this being said, it’s basically hand-holding.
The game tries to create a noir-punk sort of style and throws in some black and white cutscenes to give a noir film feel. Given the fact this game doesn’t take place in your historical 40’s or 50’s, the black and white facade really doesn’t fit with what underlies beneath. I never once felt enough like an old-timey detective to justify the unnecessary effect. The town this all takes place in is called Metropolis, however I don’t see Superman anywhere in sight and the architecture looks more suited to be located in Gotham City. Environments actually even look worse then Gotham City. You feel like you are on the verge of being in a post-apocalyptic world.
Now as far as gameplay goes, I’m sticking to my earlier statement. This game tries WAY too hard. The game throws puzzle after puzzle at you in an endless worm-hole of illogical situations. Sure, in a game like this we expect to solve puzzles and use our process of elimination. One thing to learn here is that you CAN overdo it. Strip away the silly ploy of a plot, potty mouth humor, weird characters, and forced quick time events and you see that this game was formed rather recklessly.
I’m going to admit that this game was fun for the first 30 minutes. 30 minutes doesn’t constitute a good game however. Sam and Max is a good franchise to compare Red Johnson Chronicles: One Against All with. Sam and Max is the kind of experience you want to shoot for. Tales of Monkey Island, Grimm Fandango, Too the Moon, and lots of others in the kind of quality you want to aim for. Red Johnson Chronicles: One Against All simply cannot compare at any large length. Red Johnson tries so hard to give you a quantity of puzzles and it lacks to put value in anything else. You can’t just slap a great adventure title together randomly and expect it to work. The only thing that can be touted here is the environment designs but alas, that is not enough to save this title.
Overall Rating: 2/5