Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Review

When I first encountered Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, it was in a bundle -It looked interesting but I put it on the back burner since I was busy with other games. Fast forward a few years, I asked my friends on Steam what game I should play as a break from my usual things, and this title came up. After looking into it I realized this seemed like a great idea! I had not played a point-and-click adventure game in a while, the other reviews seemed positive and it was recommended by friends, as well. Drawn in with art style reminiscent to comic books along with the opportunity to play a female protagonist I booted the game up and instantly became addicted. This title offers a solid story, good game-play and hours of fun for any gamer.

Dive into a gritty detective story filled with twists and turns: The story is told in four separate episodes all focusing on the titular character, Erica Reed. She’s a FBI agent from Boston who has special psychic powers that help her see the past and even into people’s memories. Three years prior to the beginning, Erica’s brother was brutally murdered by a serial killer, haunting her throughout the plot. I enjoyed the first two episodes a lot as they focused on Agent Reed solving cases, however the plot gets deeper by the third episode and things begin to focus mainly on Erica and her abilities. Not much can be said without giving away spoilers, but even at its weakest points the story kept me glued to my seat wanting to find out what would happen next.

Make choices that affect the story and solve interesting puzzles: At certain points you have the option to make choices which directly affect how the story goes. Granted, you’ll always end up in the same place at the end but there are slight differences, plus, if you want all the Steam achievements you’ll have to make different choices at different places. Cognition also has plenty of puzzles to keep you busy, featuring mainly logic puzzles since you are playing a detective. Using Erica’s special abilities helps to solve cases and as the player progresses you’ll learn new tricks to get to the answers you seek. This title also has modern tools, like searching the internet, for finding evidence and information.

Enjoy beautiful comic book inspired artwork and great voice acting: While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I loved this game aesthetically. It felt like I was in an actual comic book and created a great immersive experience. The cut-scenes help tell the story, all of which are fully voiced by a great cast of actors. Despite Erica having a case of “Me accent be slipping,” and some characters sounding a bit flat during dramatic moments, everyone does a excellent job at portraying their character. The background music also helps round out the package with a soundtrack that’s not only perfect for the atmosphere, but is available to purchase, as well.

The story can get a bit convoluted: I really did love the story in this game, especially the first two chapters where you were doing actual detective work. However, the third and fourth chapters focus on Erica’s powers and a certain other character I won’t spoil. The entire third episode is spent in one apartment building and, while it did explain some backstory, it wasn’t much about Erica which slowed the pacing of the plot. The fourth episode did pick up a bit and gave a thrilling conclusion but players are still left with many questions.

The graphics engine is pretty wonky: After asking around about this issue, I found out this game was made with an older version of the Unity engine. Due to this, even at its highest graphical settings, it just has many awkward moments such as items floating in mid-air, Erica’s body twisting in unnatural ways and people’s faces doing weird things. These weren’t enough to make me dislike the game, but they disengaged me from the story when they happened. I had put the settings to the best graphics quality so perhaps these issues occurred to me less than to others, but they still happened so this is a fair warning.

If you’re a fan of point-and-click games or want to get into the genre then grab Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller as it is now you can buy all four episodes at once. The player will be able to marathon all of them and I would say it’s worth the full price tag. It’s an older game and certainly not perfect as Erica moves at a snail’s pace and isn’t always very reactive to where you click, but I feel the good story makes up for the game’s faults. Not only that, but it has Steam trading cards and achievements that aren’t too hard to collect. Be ready to sink a good amount of time into this game, however, this title does have violence in it and a bit of crude language so the audience should be mindful of this.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller was developed and published by Phoenix Online Studios. The game released on PC via Steam on September 18th, 2013. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.

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Ashley Gibbs

When I'm not sleeping I sometimes join the real world and play video games...oh and write.

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