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Review: Red Johnson’s Chronicles

Posted by on June 11th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Tags:

Red Johnson’s Chronicles is (are?) a first person adventure game.  In it you take the role of super savy Private Investigator Red Johnson.  He has red hair.

Red is tasked with solving a complicated murder that spans the entire game.  Jumping into the game I thought there would be multiple cases, but this single crime is the sole focus.  I found it interesting as this outing takes 8-10 hours to best, meaning you’re really doing some sleuthing by the end.  Or are you?

If you notice the screenshots, most of the environments are really detailed.  As you scan these environments, you can look for clues, talk to NPCs and solve puzzles.  Puzzles are the central focus, usually involving Red to become some type of makeshift repairman.  For instance, in the beginning of the game Red needs to get a security camera video.  In order to get it out he first must activate a breaker box to restore power to…an electric ladder, so he can reach the camera.  Upon reaching the camera, he then must repair the camera.  We’re not talking charging it or something, obviously the only way to repair a camera is by fixing its sliding tile puzzle circuit board.  I hate sliding tile puzzles, but only remember encountering two.  Anyway, this is the kind of technology you’re constantly fixing to access more clues.   It comes off as downright comical when you have to fix a grandfather clock with a logic puzzle.  I swear it’s something you would only imagine encountering in Soviet-Russia.  Every time you do something right, the game will reward you with a “GREAT” and usually a grade/bonus money after a particular sequence is completed.  This money can be spent to pay your dirty informant scumbag Saul to give you little hints on puzzles that mess with you.  He serves as a bit of comic relief, but his hints are usually worthless.

While the puzzles are framed strangely, they do have a good degree of difficulty to them.  At one point I had to break out a calculator.  The difficulty is comparable to Blue Toad Murder Files.  Speaking of comparing, using Reds “Comparator” is a central aspect of managing your clues.  As you travel around the city you collect random clues, be it a spent shell casing or a photograph.  Once collected, Red must go to his HQ and analyze it with what looks like an old arcade cab.  After analyzing, this allows items to be compared to each other.  It’s a bit of a cumbersome process that I hope can be resolved if we get an episode 2.  There’s also a file-cabinet that Red has to research his suspects with that usually results in finding a phone number.  A bizzare 6 digit phone number, that you must painfully punch in every time you want to make a call.  I especially liked having to use a steampunk looking rotary phone at one point.  A minor gripe, but I dislike a lot of tedium in my game.

Much of the music is very environmental and fits the game quite well.  No custom soundtrack support though.  Controls remind me mostly of Heavy Rain, with lots of directional inputs.  Oh, and theres QTEs.  Not terrible, but a few are certainly failable.  The worst sequences are when Red is questioning a witness/suspect.  He’ll rattle off 10 different possibilities that could be true or false.  You must correctly choose the right answer to the question within the time limit or you’ll fail and have to begin the entire questioning of the witness/suspect again.  I must have failed Eddy’s Wife’s questioning about 10 times before I finally did it right.

Red Johnson certainly throws some real brain teasers at you and has a pretty interesting murder mystery to solve.  It lacks a lot of the humor that you find in these types of games, and some of the questioning portions are dull and vague.  An original title that could probably improve itself with more episodes.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

  • Telephone Dialing
  • Inventory
  • Sliding Tile Puzzles
  • Fingerprint Detector is Uninspired

  • Brad T

    *Note to everyone with the free PlayStation Plus membership, you can grab this at $9.74.