Brain-straining puzzles on PSN.
It’s fair to say that point and click adventure games are not something which I play very often, my history of playing them is a pretty barren thing. Other than a couple of Broken Sword games and of course the Monkey Island games, and who has not played those though?, there are not many I can compare Red Johnson to other than the episodic Back To The Future video game which I have been playing and enjoying and was released around the same time. The differences between these games however are glaring – Back to the Future, to anyone familiar with the movies, is comfortable territory with enjoyable puzzles that, with only a small amount of logical thinking, are pretty straight forward. When it comes to Red Johnson’s Chronicles, things are drastically different. The game is aimed at a more mature audience, with some of the puzzles enough to tax even the most educated of minds and to infuriate those of us not so like minded. So with that said, let’s have a little look at the game and see what it’s all about.
Without likening the two games too much, having played the two games around the same time, the differences are instantly noticeable. The player takes control of a private investigator named, funnily enough, Red Johnson as he is put to work solving a murder. It’s a case that seems to begin simply, but as you play through the game there are the obvious twists and turns making sure that the game has a great story, which is a huge plus point in the games favour.
One thing you will notice is that, for a point and click puzzle game, it excels in the visuals. The locations you visit in the game are not huge sprawling locales and are usually limited to handful of screens, but the developers have ensured that these locations are beautifully created and the atmosphere throughout them is perfect for the game. That atmosphere is hard to place however, as hard to place as the games setting. Is it modern day? is it historic? or is it futuristic? It seems to me that it includes a little touch from each of these. However, this does make it an interesting game to play and enjoy visually.
The game plays like every other game in the point and click genre, in that you are presented with a screen around which you move a cursor. In the case of Red Johnson, it is a large circle which when placed over a point of interest or interactive item brings up an icon. This means that it is pretty tough to actually miss much in the game if you are thorough in your investigations. Saying that makes the game sound like it would be rather simple, but there is one thing slowing this process down. When you find an item in world which contains a piece of evidence, a security camera or a newspaper vending machine to name two such items encountered early on in the game, these items form the puzzles, and they do give a whole new meaning to the word puzzle. Although some are as simple as a traditional sliding tile puzzle or finding a series of coins and figuring out how many of which coins to use so as to purchase an item. These puzzles do sound simple, but you should not be fooled as within time the puzzles become a lot tougher. So tough in fact that at times you could be forgiven for thinking that instead of playing a game you were in fact sitting a test, and not just a run of the mill test but one that is enough to challenge even the most puzzle orientated mind. Some of the puzzles even include mathematical problems and, maths not being my strong point, had me pondering for a good deal of time.
What Red Johnson attempts to do is target a more mature gaming audience and bring them into the puzzle, point and click genre of games, and it actually does an admirable job of this. The game does not go the same route as a lot of the more popular games in the genre in the presentation stakes. And although the games looks are not based in reality, they still have an impressive style when it comes to the visuals, as mentioned before, with its own style and setting and the games audio adding to the atmosphere perfectly. When it comes to the games sound however, there is one small area which I think could have been improved on and that is the voice acting. Maybe it’s just me being a little bit picky, but some of the characters voices, or maybe not even their voices but more the dialogue in the game, can be a little annoying.
But this is a pretty small problem and others may not even notice it. If you do find yourself being annoyed by some characters, you should definitely not let it distract from trying the game out, especially if you are a fan of puzzle games or point and click adventures, because this is one of the best available right now, if a little, or a lot, tough in some places. In this respect Red Johnson’s Chronicles is a game which will definitely give every type of gamer a challenge, even those who are experienced at this type of game. Simple gameplay, a strong and exciting story alongside challenging puzzles all come together to make a game worth playing. Whether you are a fan of the genre or not, it’s definitely worth checking out.