Red Johnson Chronicles: One Against All was developed and published by Lexis Numerique. It was released on September 12, 2012 for $9.99. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
Point-and-click adventure games seem to be making a comeback, especially in these last few years. We’ve had TellTale knock it out of the park with Back to the Future, and with the incredibly successful The Walking Dead more recently.
Now we have Lexis Numerique’s Red Johnson Chronicles: One Against All, a point-and-click adventure game with a high focus on puzzles and presentation, sequel to Red Johnson Chronicles. Even though this is a sequel, there is nothing for new players to worry about. The story of the last game is quickly told in a cutscene as soon as you start the game, making the story in One Against All stands all on its own. But what is this game all about? In it, you take control of the titular Red Johnson, who is on the run from the various gangs in his town of Metropolis after his exploits in the last game. Red is a detective, and what’s at first a simple game of cat and mouse, turns into a full fledged investigation once he finds out his brother, Brown, is missing. Will he be able to save himself and his brother, or will he fail in the attempt?
What we liked:
The presentation — As soon as you start Red Johnson Chronicles, you’ll notice one thing: the presentation is top notch. Everything from character models to the environments you’ll explore has been crafted with such care. The characters themselves provide a good contrast with the environment. While the environments resemble a very intricately design painting, perfectly conveying the decay and filth present in the city of Metropolis, the characters themselves are more colorful and cartoonish, yet they’re still crafted with the same level of attention as the environments. The music itself is very well done, modeled after noir detective films of the 40′s, something that greatly complements the various black and white cutscenes found in the game.
The puzzles — As stated before, Red Johnson Chronicles is an adventure game with a high focus on puzzles. You’ll find yourself working on them for a large part of the adventure. The game presents the environments to you from a first-person perspective, where you can take your magnifying glass out and prod around. Once you’re scouring the environments for clues, the game will let you know what things can be interacted with. Most of the puzzles of the game are initiated this way. From there, you are tasked with completing a puzzle, and you’re graded on a puzzle-to-puzzle basis, which consists of how many times you fail, how much it takes you to solve it, and if you buy hints or not. The faster and error-free you are, the higher your score and grade. Thankfully, most of the puzzles in the game are rather inventive and fun, ranging from having to recreate a suspect’s mug to using your magnifying glass and UV light to inspect an item and figure out their secret or use.
What we didn’t like:
The voice work – Red Johnson Chronicles nails its presentation, but sadly falters when it comes to giving its characters a voice. While Red himself is handled with care, with a voice that perfectly brings across his cockiness, the rest of the supporting cast seems to have been ripped out of a cartoon, and a bad one at that. Everyone talks with a exaggerated accent, like your friend Saul or the Russian girl you meet. The accents are so goofy and extreme, that they come off as more of a stereotype than an actual character. Sadly, this applies to almost every character you’ll encounter as you play the game.
The quicktime events — This is one of the areas that One Against All tries to set itself appart from the rest of the adventure games out there, but sadly it fails. The quick-time events present in the games many cutscenes don’t really add anything to the action on screen, and makes it seem that they were added at the last minute to give the game some variety. This wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so badly implemented though. The QTE’s, most of the the time, come out of nowhere and require that you have lightning-quick reflexes to pull them off, transforming them into a nuisance instead of a nice little addition to the game.
The first-person perspective — Although the various environments in the game are beautifully created and full of details, they feel very limited since you are unable to walk around in them. You only see Red himself in cutscenes, otherwise you are confined to a fixed first-person perspective every time you’re looking around a location. You can’t move Red from the location he’s standing in, only his cursor around the environment. While this method helps to move along an investigation, and makes it easier to spot clues from a fixed perspective, it makes the gameplay feel very limited, and takes out the adventure and exploration in an adventure point-and-click title.
All in all, Lexis Numerique’s Red Johnson’s Chronicles: One Against All is an average point-and-click adventure title that had the potential to be a great game, since all the pieces are in place, but it’s sadly held back by laughable voice work, out of place quick-time events, and limited exploration of the environments. Its saving grace are its various puzzles, and if you’re a fan of puzzle games, you might want to check this out. Otherwise, steer clear.
Score: Try It