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Red Johnson’s Chronicles: Tales of an Indie PSN Developer

Roland Fauster's Avatar + Posted by Roland Fauster on Jun 16, 2011 // Contributing Editor, SCEE

One of the advantages of my job is that when I like a game I can contact the developers and learn more about the game’s development background. The following interview is with Djamil Kemal from Lexis Numérique and I hope that you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed the game.

Red Johnson’s Chronicles is the most recent addition to PlayStation Store from French indie studio Lexis Numerique.

Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)

PSB: Where do adventure games stand in the modern gaming world?

Djamil Kemal, Lexis Numérique: Adventure games seem to have suffered in the past few years. This can be partly explained by the fact that adventure games were mainly PC focused and that most of the non-core gaming market has moved toward home consoles.

Contrary to what it seems at first sight, we think that adventure has not disappeared but has spread. During the past years, many of the best-selling games have worked because they have a very strong scenario and a deep background. No one would say that Mafia, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption or Black Ops are adventure games, and yet everyone praises the script writers. Hence, going back to the roots and creating adventure games today for gamers that are not into action makes sense.

Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)

PSB: What are the inspirations behind Red Johnson`s Chronicles?

DK: Obviously, we were really inspired by classic 50′ and 60′ Noir movies for the scenario. But movies like Pulp Fiction also have their part, as dark humour is an important part of the game. For the environments, we were impressed by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (Alien Resurrection) more personal movies like Delicatessen (anachronisms, packed city) or the vision of Arkham City in Batman (huge city with small streets). Metropolis City, in which the game takes place, is a mix of America, Europe and Asia.

Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)

Red Johnson’s Chronicles’ innovation lies in two elements: the mix of existing genres (adventure, investigation, puzzle games) and also in its large ambition for a downloadable title. As in classic adventure games, you’ll explore different environments, talk with different characters and unlock situations. But in addition to that, you will also have to carry a real investigation: search for evidence, analyze your clues, compare them with each other to find a match, and confront your witness to put them over the edge. And last but not least, you’ll have to use both your brain and your fists. To achieve your goal, you’ll have to crack puzzles that are original and that perfectly fit the script. You will also have to fight sometimes. The action sequences are based on Quick Time Events: you don’t need dexterity, but you have to quickly press the right button at the right time to give a jab, a little bit like in Heavy Rain, for instance.

In addition to the gameplay, we hope that the overall game will prove to be very ambitious for a downloadable game. This 8-to-10-hours-long investigation/adventure is set to highly detailed backdrops and we gave a lot of attention to the soundtrack and voice acting.

PSB: Why did you leave PC development and start PS3 development?

DK: The reason we decided to go for home consoles is the amazing emergence of downloadable content. We strongly believe we are living a golden period in the video game industry where we can propose innovating games to a very large audience, try new things and take risks. When you develop a Blu-ray Disc game, the cost is so high that you have to limit your risks by limiting your creativity. The marketing often comes before the creative teams. With PSN, we can act differently.

In addition, this period is really important for us at Lexis as, for the first time in our history, we can discuss directly with our players, without going through a publisher. This changes a lot of things. We’re currently working on several other downloadable games (not all announced) and we can guarantee you that they will be part of the most ambitious titles available on the PSN.

Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)Red Johnson's Chronicles for PS3 (PSN)

PSB: Can you tell us a little bit more about your previous games portfolio?

DK: Lexis Numérique is now one of the largest European game design studios, but we’re still a small company compared to the huge US teams. Hence, we decided, since the beginning, to work on two major elements: innovation and top quality.

As mentioned above, we created several innovative adventure games, including In Memoriam (aka Missing: since January) and Experience112 (aka The Experiment). But we also brought innovating titles in a field that was, back then, totally ignored by game studios: kids’ games. We created many kid games, including the Uncle Albert series, the Imagine: Fashion Designer series and the Horsez series.

We’re currently working on three PSN games:

Amy: It’s a very ambitious and original survival horror game created by Paul Cuisset, the author of Flashback and the Motor Racer series. We’re going to release new information soon but you can already check out the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AMY.thegame. The feedback so far is really good.

The Pooyoos: If you look at the stats, the PlayStation Network has more than 65 million users. Many of them have kids from 3 to 5. And yet, there is almost nothing for them. Hence, we decided to create a very original and high quality game for kids in which they can learn many things in a very funny way (shapes, colours, music, dance…) and also play with their parent. They don’t need to read anything on the screen once the game is launched.

We are also working on Brooklyn Stories a third game which is probably one of our biggest games so far. We will be releasing more information very soon…

//Add Your Own

17 Comments

1

+ nyobzoo on June 16th, 2011 at 7:15 am said:

beaten this game, had some pretty hard puzzles but overall a pretty good game


2

+ Shakh on June 16th, 2011 at 7:41 am said:

Bought it. Played it. Loved it. Finished it.

Really good game, some tough puzzles, but nothing unfair. Really good fun. Is there going to be a second Red Johnson game?


3

+ Smooth423 on June 16th, 2011 at 7:43 am said:

I was not sold on this game until today. After I am done Duke Nukem Forvever I will be all over this!


4

+ sylarista on June 16th, 2011 at 7:50 am said:

Great game!


5

+ harpdevil on June 16th, 2011 at 8:02 am said:

Looks like a cool game, I’ll have to try it.

But do you know what we really need? The CAVE Johnson Chronicles :D

When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don’t want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these?! Demand to see life’s manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I’m the man who’s gonna burn your house down! With the lemons!


6

+ gus_xl on June 16th, 2011 at 8:46 am said:

I haven’t heard of this game until now. I really like the art style ( the reason that I buy most of my games.. don’t judge me ) . I’m going to have to give this one a try.


7

+ PathoftheShadow on June 16th, 2011 at 8:57 am said:

This game appears pretty interesting… though it appears to have, at this point, limited re-play value. Also with the limits of the game apppears as though the gameplay itself has the potential to render some stagnance. I do however like the different approach and I’m always excited to see new game genres being more fully developed. May be a rental for me at first… but, you never know could wind up being one of those little know hidden gems.


8

+ Reiter on June 16th, 2011 at 9:04 am said:

You guys should have honored the $6.50 cost of Red Johnson’s Chronicles when PSN returned. A 1-day pre-hack discount wasn’t enough.


9

+ TomHoang on June 16th, 2011 at 9:27 am said:

I agree with @8, I was all pumped up for the Store’s return to purchase this game for $6.50, only to see that it was raised up to $9.75.


10

+ hush404 on June 16th, 2011 at 9:49 am said:

Very kewl LN, I enjoyed the game and Await more on AMY :)


11

+ FORMIK on June 16th, 2011 at 9:56 am said:

This is an interesting game and I am glad this post was written.

Is there any work on an update to allow for Move support? Maybe others that have played the game could either agree or disagree, but this game looks like it would work great with the Move controller.


12

+ NinjaNabs on June 16th, 2011 at 11:22 am said:

where is my johnson when i need it (ray william johnson reference)?


13

+ tylerh1701 on June 16th, 2011 at 12:03 pm said:

I agree with #8 and #9. Sony, why let everyone become a PS+ member when you’re gonna change what PS+ offers. Between this, Outland, and the Brain price change, I think Sony’s been acting very shady about PS+ discounts.

And then there’s Under Siege, which I don’t ever remember hearing about a PS+ discount, then when PSN came back up it was $10 off! So I guess I shouldn’t complain, but maybe a little more explanation and clarification from Sony would do a lot of good.


14

+ ifssal on June 16th, 2011 at 12:06 pm said:

I’m really enjoying this game. Fantastic art and some very well crafted puzzles. I really hope we can expect more installments.


15

+ Surfaced on June 16th, 2011 at 12:10 pm said:

Very cool game though I am VERY pissed because I was intending to buy this game for the past 2 weeks. I got PS+ and saw it was only $9.49 so I nearly leaped for it, and yesterday I ran out to get a PSN card to add money to my wallet. Well I get home to redeem my card, and find Red Johnson’s Chronicles at the original retail price!!!

You guys ended the sale the day before I wanted to buy it! Very lame, guys.

Anyway I hope it’s a good game, I’ll play it tonight.

Oh and you guys @ Lexis should’ve kept AMY as a PSN-exclusive. Very, very lame decision to change that.


16

+ Hooligantuan on June 16th, 2011 at 3:03 pm said:

why that johnson so red ? ? ?


17

+ plaztiksyke on June 16th, 2011 at 5:31 pm said:

Great game, loved the visual design and the puzzles. Eagerly awaiting a second episode :)


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