Red Johnson's Chronicles: One Against All
First posted on 15 April 2013. Last updated on 15 April 2013.
|Red's hideout is also his only safe haven.|
|The harbor is the center of the seedy underbelly of the city.|
|The black and white cinematic is classic noir.|
|Red finds a submarine off the coast of the city.|
|On whom is Red spying at the docks?|
Red Johnson's Chronicles: One Against All is the sequel to the original Red Johnson's Chronicles previously released exclusively for the Sony PlayStation 3. The story continues immediately after the events of the original game, though it is not necessary to have played the original in order to enjoy this sequel. The PC version of this game is a port of the console version released earlier for the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox 360. Despite its console roots, the game delivers a pleasant experience on the PC for adventure game fans who are also puzzle enthusiasts.
Like its predecessor, the game's story is a classic noir set in Metropolis, a dystopian city in the near future. Overpopulated, dirty, and crime ridden, the city depicts the lives of a collapsed society. Only the strongest and the ruthless survive. The police have given up on fighting crime and have installed vending machines selling firearms to citizens to use to defend themselves. You play the role of Red Johnson, a private detective who is trying to retire to a quieter life at the docks. Unfortunately, for Red, during his last investigation, his snooping has exposed Uncle Teddy, the mysterious kingpin of Metropolis, who has now placed a bounty on his head. Every lowlife in the city, from mobsters to thugs, are now after Red. When Red discovers that his younger brother Brown has been kidnapped, he immediately suspects that his kidnapping may be tied to his own troubles. Relying on his detective intuitive and puzzle solving skills, Red sets out to save his brother and perhaps himself too.
The graphics in this sequel are well made and a substantial improvement over those in the original. The environments are detailed and immersive. The characters are well modeled and move fluidly, attributable perhaps to the developer's use of motion capture for the animations. Facial expressions are also animated, including lip synchronization. The seedy vestiges of a rundown city, such as the harbor and the pub, feature an odd mix of American architecture from different time periods. Similarly, the characters' costumes are a hotchpotch of retro and futuristic clothing. Despite the unusual mix of art style, the world of Metropolis feels believable, coherent, and original.
Some of the scenes in the game can get quite gruesome and violent, though they befit the general level of violence that fills the city. All of the major characters are voice acted. With very few exceptions, the voice acting is near perfect. Many of the characters speak with getto slangs that can sometimes feel out of place but are never overused. On the other hand, Red's monologues are classic noir. Sound effects are decent but add little to the game's atmosphere. The background music is a mix of swing and blues.
Stylistically, the game boasts all the clichés of classic noir: black and white cinematic, a lonesome private eye, a dark and decrepit cityscape, dirty talking gangsters, and plenty of violence. Even so, the game does not look stale. The plot itself, though solid, is a classic kidnapping story and can be a bit predictable. However, the character interaction in the game keeps the overall experience from feeling passive. In fact, the game rarely has moments of inaction.
Throughout the game, you are tasked to solve puzzles or look for evidence to build up your investigation. This is done by searching the scenes with the cursor to locate hotspots with which you can interact. Locating these hotspots triggers a circular menu that reveals what actions can be taken, such as talking to a character or picking up an object. Beyond the occasional pixel hunting, the interface is well implemented. Whenever you feel you are done, you can exit the current scene and go to another scene by accessing the diary that Red uses to keep track of the information he has gathered so far in the investigation. The diary is very helpful for reviewing minute facts of the case, especially at the end of the game when you will be asked to pronounce the charge against the perpetuators and present the evidence you have gathered on the perpetuators' identity.
There are a lot of puzzles to solve in this game. A few of the puzzles are quite tough and require a lot of thinking and time to solve. Unfortunately, once you start on a puzzle, it is not possible to save the game without exiting and thereby resetting the puzzle. If you cannot solve a puzzle, you can always ask for help from Saul. Saul is Red's friend, with whom Red frequently exchanges friendly banter. In the game, Saul also acts as a hint guide for Red. The hints are not free, however. Rather, you need to buy them using money you first earn by solving puzzles. This way, there is little risk in spoiling a puzzle too early. Most of the puzzles are standalone brain teasers. They range from sliders to jigsaws to code ciphers to other logic puzzles. For some puzzles, you need to analyze the evidence you find using an analyzer in Red's hideout. The results of the analyses are then recorded in the diary, some of which are clues that Red needs to uncover the reason behind his brother's kidnapping. Almost every major action that Red undertakes is accompanied by a puzzle: unlocking a door, opening a package, getting a note, among others.
In conclusion, Red Johnson's Chronicles: One Against All is a game for puzzle lovers. Although the game may not be a classic point-and-click adventure, it still delivers an engaging experience for fans of the genre. How much fun you will find in this game will depend on how much you enjoy solving mini puzzles and how much time you are willing to invest in tackling some of the more challenging and complex puzzles. The game delivers solid graphics and has an intuitive and fluid interface. I enjoy following the trail of evidence leading to the final revelation, but I also loathe the game's abrupt cliffhanger that is clearly just a tease. If you are into puzzle solving and love classic noir fiction, then Red Johnson's Chronicles: One Against All is a game that you may find worthy of playing.