Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - Episode 1: Hangman

For those who crave experiences with frightening violence and adventure, Cognition is definitely worth a pick.

By RON, Posted 01 Jan 2013

The adventure genre is now a distinctive thriving point for almost every indie game. With more and more of them being published as such, some are truly making noteworthy appearances, containing depth both in storytelling and gameplay. The very first episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller: Hangman can easily be considered as one of those games. If the very first impression could last until the end, it might turn out to be one of those extraordinary episodic series.

Cognition will tell a serial story about Erica Reed, a Boston FBI agent who solves thrilling cases. Unluckily though, her introduction puts us smack dab in the middle of her brother’s tragic death by a serial killer; it felt like the most horrific tutorial ever. While Erica tries to save her brother, the game establishes her ability to see the past and and how to use Erica’s supernatural ability to explore a post-crime scenario and track down murderers. Once the story kicks off, two more powers will be introduced which can be combined to make things more interesting. What I felt was missing is a little backstory on other characters. It’s explicable that in five-to-six hours of game time, not everything can be uttered in brief amounts.

Since it’s a point-and-click game, gameplay is pretty basic. Controls are entirely mouse-driven, and you can interact with people and objects by clicking on them. That said, you actually won’t find the same intractable options unless a person or object has anything to do with the case or situation. Theirs is an inventory where only useable items can be stored and the one you keep selected can be usable on human or other objects. For instance, if you keep your gun selected, you can use it on both other characters and objects. Your FBI badge or cell phone can only be used on other person, however. I felt some hotkeys would make the play easier, because the way gameplay icons were laid didn’t feel too soothing. The very first power you acquire can be used on a specific object, providing a linked flashback. When you eventually earn the Projection and Regression powers, gameplay takes its best form. By pressing the cognitive button, players can choose objects to be combined and discover hidden secrets. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. There will be plenty of objects to interact with and only three reveal what truly happened in a specific event.

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1, Hangman,  Review, Killer, Adventure, Suspense

Besides the animations, the art style is the best part of Cognition. Backgrounds are portrayed in 2D and characters are given a 3D fee, which surprisingly makes a good blend; a certainly praiseworthy feat. Cutscenes brought in a motion-comic style also deserve some recognition. This is perhaps one of the best elements of the game that cover the shortcomings in other departments. What felt most awkward about Cognition’s visuals is characters’ facial expressions. At times they seem like they’re overreacting, especially Erica. During a normal conversation, her jaw movement made my eyes sore. Having said that, I felt good most of the time when there was lack of facial movements even though they were necessary. A solid voice-over was needed to make up for it, and Phoenix Online Studios did that almost flawlessly. I also can’t deny the efficiency of the background music, which set’s the game’s overall tone.

When a series is being projected, the main character must be loved. Erica certainly has an attractive personality and as much as I wanted to like her, her facial movements made me not to. Though this is an issue that can be easily fixed in the sequels and improvements made in this particular department will give this game a serious boost. One more thing that I felt was missing is the strength of the narrative. After finishing the game, it didn’t make much of an impression in my mind. Hopefully they will address this regarding the next episode.

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1, Hangman,  Review, Killer, Adventure, Suspense

Still, the episode itself is solid, giving us a glimpse of what can be made out of this fine foundation. For those who crave experiences with frightening violence and adventure, Cognition is definitely worth a pick. Not sure what you’ll decide after playing this game, but I’m definitely looking forward to play what Phoenix Online Studios plans to bring next.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
Twitter | +SarwarRon

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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: 2012-10-30

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