Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - Episode 2: The Wise Monkey

In the Episode 2: The Wise Monkey, the plot continues to thicken and the story gets more intense.

By RON, Posted 16 Mar 2013

Losing someone close at the very beginning of the story is probably going to be the fate of psychic FBI agent Erica Reed. As her story picks up with yet another mysterious case to solve, only this time it’s more disturbing, complex and darker. She chases a serial killer who seems to take pleasure in removing the eyes, ears and tongues of victims. This second episode of Erica Reed indicates good promise towards making a remarkable series, though there is still much to improve.

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 2, The Wise Monkey, Review, Screenshot

The story kicks on right where the Episode 1: Hangman finished, but it’s veering towards a different direction this time. Erica was investigating the serial killer Hangman of who is still on the loose, murdering the former FBI director, as well as her younger brother along the way. The new director of FBI decides to take Erica off the case due to her emotional attachments, and it doesn’t take him long to assign her to a new case, when an FBI agent gets his ear cut off before being kidnapped. Still stumbling from losing her brother and her former boss, Erica must find Hangman before losing someone else she’s finally getting close to. Episode 2’s sudden change in direction might not come expected to those who played the first, but the more the story progresses, many of the plots will overlie in an unexpected manner. Unlike Episode 1, this sudden change of pace hardly gives you any breathing room, taking you into action straight away. It still takes its time to gather the thrust through some unnecessary puzzles and conversations. Once it’s on its full momentum, however, it gets very engaging; not to mention horrific too.

Erica’s psychic powers have been the best part of this series so far, simply because they are fun when used. Previously, Erica had the powers of Cognition, Projection and Regression. A new power called Synergy is being introduced, in which she can assemble memories from a group of related items. It can get perplexing at times when matching the right objects to abstract the hidden memories beneath, but it is obvious that this power has been introduced not only to solve puzzles but to also progress the story itself. It’s delightful to crack puzzles using the synergy power and I frankly could get used to it over time. Puzzles in this episode are more challenging than the previous, as Erica relied less on her dad whom she can contact via cell phone. However, some of these puzzles didn’t feel straightforward, and you couldn’t foresee a consequence until certain parts of a plot were uncovered. While there are hints available, at times you’ll have to think outside the box to utilize a given situation with Erica’s abilities.

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 2, The Wise Monkey, Review, Screenshot

Presentation-wise, it’s yet another delightful part of the game. Its hand-painted background crafted with detailed surroundings is definitely praise worthy. If the level of graphical presentation is considered, it’ll be very hard to call this game an indie title. The amount of detail placed into each portrait is extraordinary, and blending that with stylish in-game cinematic and fitting background music gives you the perfect frame of mind to do a murder investigator’s job. Voice-over has been up to the mark like the previous episode well. But what breaks the immersion is the quality of animation. Discomfited body and facial movements have been the reasons why Episode 1 didn’t deserve the credit it should’ve; it carries over in Episode 2. Erica’s awkward walking and body movement will still make your eyes sore. The experience is a little better this time, but this is still a noticeable flaw in terms of quality.

Unfortunately, the game takes its worst shape when the characters are doing conversations. At times I really wished I could say something that would actually made sense to what I was doing. There are tons of unexpected things to do for a FBI agent to get access to certain object/place, which I doubt has any similarities with real life. It sure extended length of the gameplay, which really wasn’t welcoming. Why should it be? It’s neither a fantasy game nor a run-and-gun; couple that with more plots will grant me a higher level or mastery on a weapon. Especially when the story is so intense and you want to move onto the next phase of solving a puzzle, you are stuck in doing certain things that makes the gameplay experience dreadful. I compromised this lacking in the first episode considering it as an indie game, but when this has so much potential to be a great game, it shouldn’t compromise anymore. There’s this softness exposed underneath Erica’s fitting personality while dealing with certain situation, that really imbalances her character. Though hers is still a likable personality, it’s just the people surrounding her doesn’t seem too fitting. Her unrealistic ways of being an FBI agent could be one of them as well.

Luckily, The Wise Monkey is still a fun game to play. The depth of its story and the puzzles will do the trick to keep the momentum going. You realize that the plot to resolving something big continues to thicken and the story will likely get more intense in future episodes. Will this be enough to keep all entertained till the fifth episode? I honestly don’t want to look that far right now. I was doubtful whether I’d want to play the third episode after finishing the second. But I desire that the developers will put more improvements in the game and make it more comforting for me to accept this as a great series.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Reverb Publishing
Developer(s): Phoenix Online Studios
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Mystery
Release Date: 2013-01-30

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