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Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1 Review

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I’ve never been an avid fan of ‘Point and Click’ adventure games simply because I don’t have the brainpower to solve cryptic puzzles without using a guide. Although I did encounter that very problem in the first episode of

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, it was far from unenjoyable.

The opening cinematic follows our protagonist Erica Reed, an FBI detective who is out to avenge her brother’s untimely death though having to close that such case before it is truly solved for the sake of no further leads. The case you work on in Episode One revolves around a hanging that took place with few visible clues to work with. Using your post-cognition abilities to see an object’s past by touch, you begin to unravel a case which is no longer a single murder but a plethora of complex and mysterious killings.

The initial impression I got from the game was it’s quite eye-catching art-style. I can only describe the art-style as: lazy, sketched. This is in no way a bad thing and it works very well as the game progresses. The 2D hand-drawn cinematics complement the detailed 3D graphics during the actual gameplay and is one of the game’s greater credits.

You immediately get introduced to Erica’s power once you enter the first scene in a graveyard; her “intuition” as mentioned earlier. The game doesn’t mention how Erica got this special power and originally seems a cheap way of solving puzzles that probably wouldn’t have been able to solve in normal conditions; that simply isn’t so. The game doesn’t shout at you to use the Intuition all the time and it most certainly isn’t cheating, you have to use your own initiative to figure out what to study and when to do so. Throughout the game you are shown how to hone you Cognition abilities to solve puzzles that you wouldn’t have been able to with your standard power. Your tutor, the sweet antique shop owner Rose, aids your reluctance to discuss your powers that have become stronger since the passing of your brother.

Characters within the game are extremely well constructed and you have a genuine affection for some and a loathe for others. Each voice works perfectly for each character and I can’t imagine a better cast that could have been used apart from the strange, attempting-to-be-hip conversations Erica has with overly-casual forensics “expert” Terence. Bizarrely, on one of Erica’s monologues fairly early on in the game, John, her work partner, responds to it. There are a couple occasions similar where the 4th wall is broken, like when Erica mentions that the case “Is almost like a game” at one point. If it was a recurring theme throughout as in ‘Conker’s Bad Fur Day’ then fair enough but moments like that seem incredibly disjointed from the core game. It’s supposed to be a thriller, not a comedy.

I imagine getting into the gameplay for veteran PnC players would be simple but for myself there were a few things that took a little time to grasp. Icons that appear on the screen when interacting with objects aren’t completely clear other than the obvious ‘Eye – Look’ and ‘Hand – Interact’. The briefcase symbol means “interact with wielded item” and, what looks like an open box, I believe means enter. It’s not a game-breaking issue but a simple legend could have avoided any confusion.

Puzzles throughout the game are progressively more difficult with some needing some common sense and others requiring you to remember past scenes and clues picked up along the road as well as using devices you have picked up from various sources. One thing that was truly helpful was the hint system in-game. Instead of having to jump out of game and Google your problem, you can get a hint from you Dad via text. The game will know where you are in the story and pose pre-made questions to your Dad of which he will give you a vague yet useful response, on most occasions. It’s a great feature that ensures you don’t break the atmosphere of the game too often from quitting out and researching what you need to find out.

Some puzzles that involve your mobile phone yet were too specific for me. In one instance, you are trying to jog someone’s memory and in order to find out a piece of information, you needed to search on your phone’s stripped down browser for a name of a restaurant. I don’t know about everyone else but I simply wouldn’t have been able to get to the answer without a full guide as well as using the hint system in-game.

As for the physical movement of Erica and general gameplay, it could be improved. Actions can take an awfully long time to complete or even start. After instructing Erica to move to a certain place or perform a certain task she may pause at the point of contact, not move at all, or move really slowly towards what she is instructed to do which breaks up the game’s flow a little. Running through the scenes, especially in the FBI office, can lead to sinking into floors randomly too; although highly amusing, might be a sign of poorly polished environments.

The first episode of four is a promising start. The game has some challenging puzzles that aren’t impossible and aren’t too easy to still give you that sense of accomplishment once you complete them. The atmosphere is creepy, inviting and addictive and the voice actors/actresses and visuals rise this game to sit among the great Point and Click games. Although there are a few flaws that keep it from filling it’s full potential, Cognition is definitely a game for lovers of the genre and otherwise.

Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.

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