Red Johnson's Chronicles – first-look preview

Apparently there are some people who feel the need to make a peepee-wiener joke every time they hear the word Johnson, but however you feel about its somewhat unfortunate title, Red Johnson's Chronicles has us intrigued. Although it's a classic point-and-click adventure at heart, RJC mixes an ambitious array of gameplay elements into its murder investigation story.

On one hand, the overall investigation is similar to the Ace Attorney series. You play at Red Johnson, an investigator who's looking into the mysterious death of a man who was seemingly hated by almost everyone he knew. To narrow down the suspects, you travel around gathering evidence and interrogating witnesses. The dialogue system is quite active, and requires you to choose the right responses to unlock clues and avoid getting Red killed. It requires quick thinking too – your responses are timed, and if you hesitate too long the consequences could be disastrous. Slower readers might take issue as the game gets tougher, but it seems like an interesting way to add tension to a gameplay aspect that can otherwise get tedious.

It's also full of Professor Layton-style puzzles, although we're told that greater lengths are being made in RJC to integrate each puzzle with the story and environment to feel like a cohesive part of the narrative. In one example, a sliding puzzle unlocked a window so that we could sneak into a suspect's apartment undetected. All the puzzles are unique too, so you won't see the exact type of sliding puzzle again after that. Along the same lines, it looks like great pains have been taken in RJC's presentation – the art is gorgeously detailed, the music is all original, and all the characters have full voice-overs. 

Above: A different sliding puzzle than the one we saw in the demo - how many variations on the sliding puzzle can there be? 

Although Red Johnson's Chronicles only covers one case, we're told that it will offer about 8-10 hours of gameplay in total. Interestingly, you can actually beat the game without solving the mystery in its entirety. Like a real investigator, you eventually need to submit your final report to the police chief, and if he's satisfied with your findings, you win. You can submit your report whenever you want, and like the game of Clue, you need to cover such details as the murderer, the method used to kill the victim, and the motive. If you haven't gathered enough hard evidence, but you're reasonably certain of your hunch, you can fudge your report and make an educated guess.

Above: Red must even engage in combat occasionally in the form of quick time events 

It's impossible to vouch for the overall quality of Red Johnson's Chronicles at this point, because it will ultimately depend on how the story develops, and also on the quality of the various types of puzzles, of which we haven't seen much. Like its other PSN title, Amy (check out our preview here), publisher Lexis Numerique is hoping that people will be willing to take a risk on a new IP, given its low $12 price point. Look for our full review when Red Johnson's Chronicles releases on PSN in early May.

Apr 6, 2011


  • jmcgrotty - April 8, 2011 11:24 a.m.

    I'm torn.... big time. This is what a real game is supposed to play like, and yet I am 100% adamant in my anti-download stance. So, this game will go unplayed/unpurchased by me. Time to head back to Planescape: Torment. Companies will be a lot better off the sooner they discover downloading games/content are 100% unacceptable and get back to the real job of making real games.
  • Imthedoctor - April 7, 2011 4:34 p.m.

    I can't wait to get my hands on that beautiful Red Johnson, and play all night, over and over again! xD
  • quincytheodore - April 7, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    Same as Helios.... again
  • BladedFalcon - April 7, 2011 4:09 a.m.

    Hahahaha, payback against M$ for hogging exclusives like Limbo and Dust: An Elyssian tale. Both this and Amy look pretty cool, and 12$ isn't that high of a price either, specially if both offer a 6+ hour experience this detailed and engrossing. I'll definitely keep and eye on them, but yes, reading the reviews first will be a key deciding factor.
  • Gahmah - April 7, 2011 3:24 a.m.

    It's no Journey, but it might sate my desire for cool, off beat games for a while, ico & shadow of collsus collection is getting top priority for holiday season though
  • Helios - April 7, 2011 2:39 a.m.

    *Falls on knees* WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?!? *Sniff* Give me a PC game, maybe 360, but Playstation only? You're killing me, Lexis. KILLING ME! But it still sounds cool. I'll never get to enjoy it, though... *SOB*
  • Robusken - April 7, 2011 1:52 a.m.

  • ThePrivateer - April 7, 2011 12:39 a.m.

    This looks good!
  • FreedomPhantom - April 7, 2011 12:28 a.m.

    This looks like a game I might give a try after a solid review. I like the art direction in the first screenshot. Aaaaaannnnddd.... I'll show you MY red johnson!!! ohhhhhhh had to.
  • Letter11 - April 7, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    This and Amy are looking kind of cool. I really like the art style in both games. I think I'll wait for you guys to post a review though.

Showing 1-10 of 10 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000