Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode Two (“The Wise Monkey”)
I won’t lie, I was really looking forward to playing episode two, mainly because I wanted some sort of resolution to the way the first episode ended. In “Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode Two (“The Wise Monkey”)”, the player will be taking on the role of Erica Reed once again to not only address a new threat to her past love interest “Sully”, but will be trying to piece together what happened during the events of episode one. If you haven’t played episode one yet, I suggest that you do so before reading any further as I’ll be referencing key events from that game from time to time. I’m assuming that you’re reading this review because you’re interested in possibly buying episode two, having already played episode one. Before we take a look at this particular episode in further detail, I’d like to thank Katie Hallahan from Phoenix Online Studios for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu is identical to the one found in episode one. You’ll have the ability to start a new case, load an existing save, adjust game settings, and visit the official website. I obtained episode two outside of Desura and I still received a window pop-up before the game began, allowing me to change the screen resolution, choose a graphics detail option, and toggle fullscreen. What’s more, the interface and the gameplay mechanics are the same as the last game. Those who have played episode one will be able to jump right in and just enjoy the story from where it left off. From a technical standpoint, the game is very polished and I only ran into one instance where I had to close the program and restart it. It occurred when I attempted to interact with a particular object and rather than doing so, the game seemed to freeze. Considering the number of times you’re going to interact with objects in the environment, one hiccup out of hundreds is commendable.
Where episode one took its time to introduce characters and gameplay mechanics, episode two jumps right into the thick of things from the get go. The introduction is much shorter for example, but no less dramatic and suspenseful. While Erica’s thoughts were focused on Scott’s killer and “The Hangman” from episode one, she’ll be racing to discover who “The Wise Monkey” really is and where they may have taken “Sully.” With Davies dead, McAdams steps in as Erica’s boss and he’s just as pompous as the first game makes him out to be. The writers really went the extra mile to make sure that the characters from episode one maintained their established behaviors. One of the most important aspects of any good mystery story is character development, and that is something that the writers and artists really nail in episode two.
The game introduces a new cognitive ability that allows the player to select items from their inventory in the hopes of forming a clearer picture of how they interacted with one another in the past. While this new ability does take a front seat most of the game, you’ll occasionally have to call upon the ones you used in episode one. Progression is similar to episode one in that you’ll be trying to find key items and use them in the appropriate place. I must admit however that the final puzzle was incredible difficult and involved heavy use of Erica’s cognitive abilities, but the resulting cutscene and plot development were well worth it.
Overall, I was pleased with the way this particular episode panned out. It took me about four to five hours to complete, though your experience may vary depending on how often you seek assistance from the in-game help system. The narrative and voice acting were excellent, the art was fantastic, and the mystery element kept me engaged through and through. I don’t want to ruin the story, but suffice it to say that it didn’t resolve as much about the main plot as I thought it would. Will McAdams and Erica ever see eye to eye? Is there something more to Cordelia, like I think there is? Will Erica ever recover from Melissa’s banshee-esque singing voice? Who are the oracle and “The Wise Monkey” killer? I’m hoping that some of these questions will be answered in episode three. If you played and enjoyed episode one, then I highly recommend that you pick up episode two if you haven’t already. You can purchase the season pass for $29.99, which will allow you to play all four episodes as they come available. If you purchased the first episode by itself ($9.99), you can upgrade to the season pass for $19.99. Alternatively, you can just pick up episode two as a separate entity for $9.99. Like episode one, parental guidance is suggested due to the language and violent nature of the game. Stay tuned for a detailed look at episode three, once it becomes available!
Final Verdict: 8/10
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