Look, I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the most familiar with Lexis-Numerique when we staggered into their booth this year at E3. In fact, if I had to guess, I would have assumed they were an accessory or peripheral manufacturer or maybe a hair salon. Either way, I went in with modest expectations and came away quite interested in the two projects they demoed for us: Amy, and Red Johnson’s Chronicles.
Red Johnson’s Chronicles covers the tale of a
Native-American porn star private investigator trying to clean up the streets through puzzle solving, clue finding, and an ungodly amount of quick-time events (QTEs). Utilizing the help of vastly stereotypical street thug personas and a penchant for jamming his hands into dangerous electrical boxes and valve housings, Red opens new areas to explore and unearths vital clues to solving petty street crimes. In short, think L.A. Noire meets Professor Layton, with a dry Sam & Max sense of whimsy and humor. Oh, and you’d better really really like QTEs because they’re nearly as common as they were in Heavy Rain.
The game is highly stylized but lacks the polish of a full retail release. Considering it’s a PSN-exclusive offering, there’s no harm there. There’s also an immense amount of dialog, as one might expect in a contextual puzzle-solving game, but it is obviously not natively written in English. It’s a dubbed Sunday afternoon crime drama on IFC, but when it comes time to duke it out with the back-alley punk who has the locker combination you need, you QTE his ass into submission instead of throwing hands the old-fashioned way.
Red Johnson’s Chronicles bears the unfortunate fate of having been released on the day PSN was taken offline due to the hacking efforts of now-defunct Lulzsec, but instead of letting the chips fall, Lexis-Numerique put out an alternate relaunch trailer a few weeks later and pretended it got delayed. It’s currently available on PSN for $12.
Amy is an autistic, mute little girl whom which you will die without. You are Lana and you’re lost in the year 2034 amidst a viral pandemic. You’re immensely infected, but as long as Amy is near you, you’re symptom free. The problem is that the once-human beasts that are fully infected can sense that Amy is immune and want to kill her, thus turning you into one of them. The game involves you protecting Amy, hiding with her, sending her into crawl spaces, while keeping her close to maintain your own health.
The demo we saw looked great. It was an innovative mix of Dead Space action and HUDless-UI with Silent Hill pacing (which makes it what, Resident Evil?) but what sets it apart is the obvious influence from the movie Aliens. Before the demo began, the PR representative prefaced the background of the game as being made by the creator of Flashback who wanted to make a game that recreated the character ties between Ellen Ripley and Newt in Aliens. It seems a bit narrow but it works.
You manually take Amy’s hand and lead her through different areas. If you take her into an area that poses a threat or danger, the controller begins to vibrate along with her increasingly rapid heartbeat. She gets behind you and will try to pull away until you cram her in a cabinet or locker while you take out enemies. In some instances, it’s best you climb in there with her or run away as fast as humanly possible because you, as Lana, aren’t a very skilled fighter. You can swing a fire axe or shoot a pistol but you will often find yourself facing a conflict you just can’t win through force. This is something I like because it adds a sense of realism to the already intense atmosphere of the game.
This is definitely one to watch this September and will be released on XBLA and PSN for $15. It’s an episodic adventure, but they were quick to point out that each game is fully self-contained.