Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, is an upcoming episodic adventure game. As you might be able to guess from the title, the focus is on agent Erica Reed, who solves grim murder cases with extra aid from her post-cognition abilities. Her abilities include seeing into an object’s past and searching the memories of others, and likely more will be unveiled.
Erica, who is haunted by her past for failing to solve the unfortunate case of her brother’s murder, is joined by numerous memorable characters; John McCoy and ‘Sully’ being two characters that stood out. Especially interesting was how Reed and Sully began to warm up to each other throughout the first episode, which might have gone differently had I chosen different responses on another playthrough. Phoenix Online Studios have mentioned that they want the choices of the player to matter, which is something to look forward to as more episodes are released.
The voice acting consisted of a talented cast – Especially Erica herself. The writing team did a good job with the dialogue – However, could benefit from some additional dialogue from incorrect player actions: Such as when trying to give John a doughnut from the inventory, a general “That does not work with that” response from Erica was heard where a more personal reply would have worked great. While a relatively minor issue, I believe these little interactions help make the whole experience that more enjoyable and believable.
Throughout the game, you will occasionally be subject to comic-book-like cutscenes. These are very well done, the artwork is excellent, as is the music and sounds that go with them. They are a joy to watch. The majority of the game plays with 3d character models in lovely painted 2D environments, somewhat reminiscent of the classic Resident Evil games (speaking of which, listening to Moonlight Sonata in the Morgue was a highlight!). The models were nicely done, again putting in a comic-book thriller type feel to the game, although there is some clashing caused by the 3D comic styled models mixed with the 2D painted backgrounds which hindered the atmosphere the game tries so hard (and mostly succeeds) to create . Hopefully these minor issues which can be corrected and built upon in upcoming episodes.
In the first episode there’s a number of places to explore, with the majority of the time spent in the station – which while realistic for an agent to do so, it almost felt too much time was spent here. An unfortunate issue is that when you do go to the main map, it can takes a few seconds to load up, which again does not aid to the feeling that the game wants you to explore all these diverse places.
The unique feature of using Reed’s ‘intuition’ adds to the general play and is brilliant throughout. Unlocking the ability to help restore memories allows for a new and interesting way to uncover secrets. Erica’s powers makes Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller stand out from other point and click and puzzler games. If you are ever troubled by some of the puzzles that crop up, you can use Erica’s mobile phone to text her father, who gives her some basic guidance. The ‘action’ sequences, shown at the beginning and end of this episode, really add suspense and variety to the gameplay. Now that the premise is set, a faster pace in the next episode could very much add to the series.
The story of Cognition will certainly keep you playing until the end of the episode and leave players wanting more of the characters and cases. The characters, while some slightly stereotypical, help draw you into the world of the FBI agent. The different options you can take for Erica’s responses also allow you to slightly change the story, and her relationship with other the characters – these developments make you want to see how things play out until the end.
In conclusion, Yes there are a few gripes here but Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller shows true potential. Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1 is a great point and click game and if the minor issues are addressed in the upcoming episodes, Cognition: The Series will be something very special indeed.
+ Erica’s abilities very much add to the gameplay
+ Intriguing story, with well developed cases, which makes you want to play on
+ Fantastic comic-book scenes
+ Promising potential for future episodes
- Animations can sometimes feel stiff
- Some clashing between the 3d & 2D art styles
– Some loading time for the main map
Erica Reed’s thriller is continued in Episode 2: The Wise Monkey. You can find out more over at Phoenix Online Studios.
Cognition is also currently trying to get Greenlit for Steam – Please support them by voting for Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller.