Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Season One Review

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Featured

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Boxart

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Platform: Mobile – iOS, PC – GOG*, Steam, etc

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is an episodic point and click adventure series which just concluded its first season. It took Phoenix Online Studios about a year to pump out all four episodes, but now that it has concluded we can finally assess how the full product stands against adventure gaming competition.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Screenshot 1

It’s pretty darn good. The game stars FBI agent Erica Reed who has spent the last three years obsessing over serial killers in the wake of her brother’s murder. The Cain Killer, as the murderer is known, evades Erica at every turn but she’s not willing to give up. Along the way, Erica seeks help from an antique store owner, of all people, and gets herself into a great deal of life or death situations. Even with a team of FBI agents on call, it’s only Erica who can get the job accomplished.

So we’ve got an enthralling story full of twists and turns as well as a neat cast of characters. This is typical of a good adventure game, so what makes this one stand out against the rest? For one, it is a great mix of classic and modern adventure design decisions. Yes, there are some tough puzzles, but a hint system is always accessible via Erica’s cell phone. There are a lot of objects to click in many scenes but there is also an option to light up all clickable objects in an area.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Featured

Puzzles are a mix from easy to more complex, but the vast majority at least make sense. This isn’t the kind of game that makes you do completely nonsensical things, thankfully! The biggest tweak to the formula is evidenced by the game’s title. Erica possesses a power of “cognition”. Basically, she can hone psychic powers and use them to see scenes from the past. This is incredibly useful when scouring crime scenes or looking for secret clues. As the episodes progress, she even learns new facets of her powers which are utilized in different ways.

The visuals are a bit of a mixed bag. Mainly, the game utilizes a cell-shaded aesthetic on characters which isn’t particularly appealing to me. It’s not as attractively implemented as some other titles anyway. Although, it is worth noting that the crime scenes and criminal dens look suitably dingy and creepy. With that said, the game’s 2D art really stands out. It’s comic book styled, sketchy, and overall quite cool. These scenes almost completely make up for the otherwise standard game art.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Screenshot 2

Where Cognition again stands out against the genre staples is in its music. The soundtrack is quite good! There are a lot of creepy pieces and ones that really set the scene. After all, Erica is often venturing into dangerous territory, so the music had better well emphasize it. Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be given to the voice acting. No one gives a horrendous performance but some of the voices do sound a bit stiff. For the most part, this symptom seems cured by the final episode though.

The game stands at about 10 to 15 hours for a first playthrough depending on your aptitude for puzzles. Despite that relatively small time frame, it manages to get players invested in the world and throw a handful of twists and turns in as well. Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller may have some stumbling points, but it definitely stands as one of the most intriguing of modern adventure titles out there. Check it out and see to it that Erica finally apprehends the Cain Killer!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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