FBI agent Erica Reed has an uncanny talent: she can see the past and piece together how a crime unfolded. But not even this sixth sense could save her younger brother, Scott, from a brutal serial killer. Three years later, the investigation into Scott’s murder has gone cold -- but Erica’s work has only just begun.
User reviews:
Very Positive (349 reviews) - 85% of the 349 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Sep 19, 2013

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“Greater and more sinister things await us in the following episodes. I can't wait.”

“It is soaked with gloomy style, is gorgeous to look at and listen to, sets up its plot points with great precision, and takes off in the third act as it builds to a huge climax with a disquieting final shot that makes me genuinely eager to play the second episode.”
3.5/5 – Adventure Gamers

“An exciting story, an interesting main character, challenging puzzles, and a grandiose. atmosphere make for me this first episode a worthy spiritual successor of the Gabriel Knight series, which hopefully will be even better with each new episode. Besides The Walking Dead is the best for me so far (serious) Adventure game experience of the year.”
85% – Adventure-Treff

Season One

Order the Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - Season One to get all four episodes (The Hangman, The Wise Monkey, The Oracle, and The Cain Killer), plus the prequel e-comic, Provenance!

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About This Game

FBI agent Erica Reed has an uncanny talent: she can see the past and piece together how a crime unfolded. But not even this sixth sense could save her younger brother, Scott, from a brutal serial killer. Three years later, the investigation into Scott’s murder has gone cold -- but Erica’s work has only just begun.

Jump into Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, the exciting four-part series that brings Erica face to face with the deranged demons of her past. A serial killer is loose in Boston -- one who seems to be leaving deliberate clues that only Erica, with her unique post-cognitive abilities, can uncover. Is she finally on her way to solving Scott’s murder? Or, blinded by vengeance, is she falling into a trap that could cost Erica her life? And how does this new killer know her secret?

Winner of six 2013 Reader’s Choice Aggie Awards, including Game of the Year, this edition of Cognition includes everything in the original game, plus brand new director commentary for all 4 episodes and exclusive content including concept art, storyboards, outtakes and other behind-the-scenes material about the development!

Developed by Phoenix Online Studios (makers of the King’s Quest spin-off The Silver Lining), with contributions from veteran game designer Jane Jensen (Gabriel Knight, Gray Matter) and comic book artist Romano Molenaar (Batman, X-Men, The Darkness), Cognition is a thrilling adventure that grips you and won’t let go.

System Requirements

Mac OS X
    • OS: XP/Vista/7
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 512 MB RAM**
    • Storage: 7 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: ** - Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
    • OS: XP/Vista/7
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 1 GB RAM**
    • Storage: 7 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: ** - Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
    • OS: Snow Leopard (10.6.X)
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz*
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 512 MB RAM**
    • Storage: 7 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: * - For Mac systems, an Intel-based processor is required., ** - Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
    • OS: Snow Leopard (10.6.X)
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz*
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 1 GB RAM**
    • Storage: 7 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: * - For Mac systems, an Intel-based processor is required., ** - Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
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Very Positive (349 reviews)
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237 reviews match the filters above ( Very Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
20.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 16
2/4 episodes finished so far.
Edit: I finished whole game. But not much to add. Last part is a bit disappointing. Seems to be shortest, but it also branches to different parts based on choices.

Strong points of this game: Story, music.
Weak points: Badly mixed 2D & 3D graphics (comparing to some games, I've already played) & animations are glitched in many places, many bugs (as for PnC game), splitting into episodes [I dislike it] and RADIAL menu. And last, f[!]king tedious Cognition system (blue sphere option).
It would be way faster to have only LMB and RMB as controls... because of that and some non-senses game takes slow pace so repeating episodes to get another achievements is simply tedious and not really rewarding - the alternatives are not really exciting, like refusing or accepting coffee.

Edit: Oh yeah, commentary inside of game... to get it, it's very tedious, too. You need to replay whole episode to get bits. And I didn't really liked the ones I hear on beginning of Episode 2. Maybe I'm not that much into this game.
I really wished my review to be neutral, cause this game could be much more better
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
17.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 6
Cognition is an absolutely wonderful mystery/thriller with a well plotted story that is very satisfying to play through. Everyone who thinks they might like it should definitely buy it.

I want to make that very plain at once because everything else I have to say about it is complaints. The constant frustrations from beginning to end are just astounding. Towards the beginning they are most game design issues, while in the last two chapters they are mostly technical issues. In fact the last two chapters froze up so many times, I felt like I'd played through them both twice by the end. The suspense was primarily situated in whether I would make it all the way through a cut scene or if it would hang between lines of dialogue. And this is particularly troublesome because the last two parts are wonderful and genius. Before I got to them, I thought the game was good, but not as good as Still Life. In the first two chapters there are a lot of poor busy work puzzles, two absolutely obnoxious characters (the CSI guy and the coroner), and this horrible idea of giving you a cell phone but ALWAYS forcing you to actually go visit a person when you have to talk to them. It's like the cell phone is taunting you. The other bad thing, is all the time you spend watching slow jerky walking animations. Why are the sets so large with about three things to interact with on each? They could easily all fit on screen. But no, invariably you must walk back and forth slowly and jerkily over at least two screens just to find out there's still something you need in another location completely. The worst offender is the beautiful apartment in chapter 3. (You notice how I'm compelled to compliment it even while complaining about it?) In this apartment where you spend most of your time you must walk back forth around kitchen counters, islands, and coffee tables and dining tables that fill the screen. The game seems to mostly be how to find a pixel's worth of floor space you can click on to get Erica moving in the right direction.

The only problem I have with the plot is that there is a suggestion throughout the last chapter that you will have some opportunity to decide what happens to certain characters, whether you kill them or bring them to jail, I'm fine with what the game decides to happen but not so fine with the fact that it suggested you'd have more agency in it when you do not.

The game is so good. While the busy work puzzles are generally awful or unbelievable, the central puzzles are always wonderful, the way the various psy powers work out always very inventive and intricately planned out, the plot is very well done and never disappointing. I like too that you don't have to like the good guys or dislike the bad guys. Cognition is wonderful gem, but really Phoenix Studios, shape up.
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1 of 5 people (20%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 4
What's this ? A game or torture ?

I tried to play that game and at the cemetery you need to enter a tombe. You cannot look around. You have to click like a maniac every possible hot spot until it "unlocks" a needed skills to continue.
Then when you use that skill you find out that there are some tools on the left side of the tombe.

What the ... ? The game did not let me check the left side before - the hotspot was just disabled.

Why do i need a special skill to go to the left side of a tombe ?
Why does it not let me go where i want to go ?
Why does the help system wants you to phone your dad to ask questions and you cannot ask any question ?

If you need a program that orders you to follow a path step by step without giving you any choice then this is what you were looking for. If you want a game where you need wits and that makes fun then this is not for you.

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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
87 of 100 people (87%) found this review helpful
17.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 29, 2014
You play as Erica Reed, a Boston FBI agent with a deeply troubled past and some supernatural abilities, which are introduced to you throughout the first episode.

Cognition is a traditional point and click adventure game, and it doesn't add too much to the formula. When you click on something, a small radial menu shows up of things you can do with the object, and its context sensitive. You can look at it, use it or grab it, or use your currently equipped inventory item on it. The graphical inventory is on the right side of the screen, and you can not only equip an object, you can also look at it, use it, or combine several objects together.

It definitely has a very mature comic-book feel to it. The cutscenes are delivered in the standard "motion comic" style, with minimal animation - mostly to highlight the important aspects of the scene. The actual gameplay has full cel-shaded environments and characters, complete with mouth movements to accompany the voice acting. The music is also wonderfully done and definitely sets the mood for each scene. The best thing I can say about it is that it didn't get in the way, which is the point for a game like this. It highlights the atmosphere appropriately.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller may have some clumsy animation, some robotic faces and the occasional instance where the tech and the art don’t quite gel, but it is a hugely competent adventure game in every other regard. One that provides stimulating puzzle mechanics that make perfect sense within its world, and a compelling story that quickly gains momentum and keeps it up until it culminates in a thrilling, memorable finale. That’s categorically what you want from the genre.
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51 of 57 people (89%) found this review helpful
19.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 28, 2014
Cognition is an adult graphic adventure about lost, revenge and fate.

Story is really well done and progresses nicely without feeling forced, most puzzles are logical, all characters are complex and have motivations that you can understand, this is helped by the great voice acting.

The game has a supernatural twist, but it doesn't feel cheesy and works well in the game for the most part, allowing for some very interesting mechanics.

DIfficulty is well balanced except a couple puzzles that might require an effort, but everything is feasible and can be deducted logically, no need for weird guessings. There are a few moments where you can actually die, but it's not frustrating since the game allows for fast retrying.

All 4 episodes are quite good, but the third one is weaker because it focuses on a single location, although it's needed to move the plot further and get ready for the final of the game, so it can be forgiven and it's not bad anyway, just not as good as the other 3 episodes.

The game has a few technical bugs, like the character moving through objects, but none are gamebreaking, just a few little annoyances.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the game and highly recommend it to anyone looking for an adult graphic adventure with an interesting plot.
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40 of 47 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
36.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 30, 2014
Cross between "the mentalist" and the nastiest CSI torture killing episodes you've ever seen.

Steep learning curve on episode 1, fighting with the interface to work out ways to advance the adventure.
Probably most people will give up somewhere along this lengthy episode which is a shame because Episode 2 and 3 are real gems, better than vast majority of adventure games.

This a very long and involved adventure game with challenging puzzles.
I am skilled with this type of game but lost patience several times and consulted walkthrough.

The gore and shock of this series is a seriously over the top and would be quite upsetting and disturbing for most. I struggled not to barf at times. There's one viscious torture killing after another and it gets to be a bit much.

The dialogue and characters are well done for this type of game.
There is a lot of implausible high drama, cliff hangers and twists, perhaps akin to a comic book series.
It does make for an exciting ride.

I liked it, but honestly think only a small subset of gamers would.
* need patience for a very long game with challenging learning curve, interface, and puzzles.
* have unusually strong stomach for truly over the top gore and disturbing content (torture killing)
* appreciate convoluted plots and well written dialogues
* like adventure games with paranormal (psychic) aspects.

Sherlock: jack the ripper might be another good title for fans of this game -- highest quality writing though the game is quite old.
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36 of 41 people (88%) found this review helpful
30.7 hrs on record
Posted: April 9, 2014
This game is a point & click, mystery solving game. Was not sure i was really going to enjoy it, but quickly found myself liking the game.

The voice acting is pretty good. I really liked the characters, especially the main one, which is pretty important in a game.The game is styled like a comic

I found myself getting stumped A LOT. Almost felt like I had to actually be an FBI agent to crack the case. lol. The game does no hold your hand, and what you should do next is not always obvious. The game has a tip system, but it lets those who want to figure things out on their own, do so. The cases are pretty lengthy, more so if you get stuck a lot, like me. The story has small alternate paths. They don't change the story too much, but it's nice to have the small alternate choices

Small negative is that sometimes you have to travel back and forth to the same spots several times in a row, and it gets a bit annoying. Like in the first episode I recall having to go to the antique store, then back to the station, then back to the antique store, then back to the station again.

This game definitely might be flying under a lot of people's radar. I feel it deservers a bit more reCOGNITION.
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36 of 41 people (88%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2013
Cognative dissonance at its finest.

I like the comic book stylings since I'm a comic book kinda guy. Efforts like this are ensuring a resurgence in the genre.
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31 of 33 people (94%) found this review helpful
18.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 30, 2013
Fantastic game. One of the best stories in a video game I've played. Intriguing yet disturbing, and full of tense moments. The closest analog I can think of are the Ace Attorney/Phoenix Wright games. Now imagine those games without the court cases. Now add in much deeper investigation scenes accompanied by extremely cool "cognition" techniques, and you basically have Cognition.

I can not emphasize enough how good the story is. Big budget $60 games struggle to achieve anything close to this. The characters have real emotions and real backstories, and the player will feel for them. Some characters make me want to punch them in the face, others make me tear up inside. Its these bonds that really make the player attached to Erica and her situation.

The story really takes off due to the tense moments. Although all games have tense moments, Cognition handles these so much better. The intensity never lets up. Just when the tense scene seems to be ending, something even crazier springs up. Best of all, Cognition is not afraid to have harmful consequences. In other games, I am relatively calm even in tense moments because I know everything will be fine once I complete the scene. Not so in this game. Even if everything is executed correctly, key characters will die, gruesome imagery will haunt the player and the sanity of the player will be repeatedly questioned. All in all, a must play and a must buy.

+ Incredible story
+ Engaging characters with personable backstories
+ Mood appropriate music
+ Innovative "cognition" mechanics
+ Vivid imagery
+ Intelligent puzzles that are never too vague

- Minor graphical glitches
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34 of 40 people (85%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
19.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 4, 2015
Review: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

"Cognition promises to be an exciting game for adventure fans with a rich story and beautiful (and creepy) visuals!"

This is what Jane Jensen says about this game. If the mastermind of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers would make such an appraisal, why would you even care about reading my own opinion? Well, maybe you have never heard of Jane Jensen. You have never played Gabriel Knight. You may have never even played a Point-and-Click Adventure at all. Go ahead, read further.

You will find yourself taking the role of Erica Reed, a Boston FBI Special Agent, accompanied by her partner John McCoy. Right after the start they are rushing to a cemetery in order to rescue Erica’s brother Scott, who is being held captive by a psychopath called "The Cain Killer". He is known for gruesome murders involving siblings who get tortured with devices you would only expect to see in a Saw movie. Erica owns a special power, the cognition, that only she and her partner John know about. Explained simply: She sees what others did in the past, trying to use this to her own advantage. Right now you, the player, will make her use of it to get into the crypt where Scott is being held. If you read the Official Description carefully, you will already know how this is going to end..

3 Years Later..
Erica spent the last 3 years trying to find the man who did this to her brother. Having not found him and losing control of her life she is forced to close the Cain Case and move on. But soon after she begins to investigate the next murder, she finds clues - left for her. Clues pointing out that whoever killed that person knew about Erica’s "special gift". Is it the Cain Killer again? A new serial killer? And why would he know about Erica’s Cognition Ability? With the help of Rose, the owner of an antique shop, medium and expert for psychic abilities, and her Partner John, Erica tries to solve this puzzle in the four acts of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller.

Use your mouse to click, Erica moves, doubleclick and she runs. Press Space to highlight Objects to interact with. Congratulations, you just learned the basic controls. Some objects can be used, others can even be combined in your inventory. This is the bread and butter of Adventure Games but learning to use this efficiently will save time, time you will need to solve some of the puzzles this game has to offer. I had a tough time with some of them but if you get stuck there is a really nice hint system. This games story is amazing and it knows how to keep you engaged if you get stuck. Ericas special power, the cognition, is key for nearly every problem you will get confronted with. It requires some trial and error but it adds possibilities other games simply can’t offer. Your power will evolve while progressing, forcing you to rethink situations, finding new ways to solve puzzles.

The overall setting is dark and stylish, combined with cutscenes that appear in nicely drawn comicstrips. I must admit that I encountered some bugs while playing like mouths that looked like broken boxes. This is nothing that breaks the game but tends to look a bit funny sometimes. What keeps you really entertained instead is the amazing soundtrack which all of you should give a listen even after finishing Cognition. Whether your heart needs pumping or your soul cries for relaxation, this games music makes sure that things start to get emotional. Believe me.

Big Text, Quick Facts:

  • An intriguing, dark and mature story with an exceptional plot.
  • Interesting main protagonist..
  • ..and many antagonists
  • Dark graphics with comic looks
  • Veterans AND Newbies will quickly get used to controls and mechanics
  • Fresh take on problem solving with Ericas Special Powers
  • Rewarding puzzles
  • Nice hint system
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Comic Look (listed as pro but not everybody likes that kind of style)
  • Puzzles might get tough sometimes, literally forcing you to use the hint system
  • Graphical bugs
  • At some points I simply felt overwhelmed with where to go or start
  • Too hard for kids eyes and ears


If you haven’t shut your mouth with shaking hands, asking how all of this could have happened, you haven’t played Cognition yet. Be prepared for a clever, dark and brutal thriller that plays with emotions - but brace yourself for some tough puzzles that might discourage you at first sight. Do not let this happen. Use your Hint System if it gets to hard and enjoy the plot.

There is something I have to add for those of you still hesitating. I haven`t played Gabriel Knight or any game connected with Jane Jensen before either, so my praising words should be an assurance for all of you.

8,5 / 10

No drama, Just Reviews
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Recently Posted
1.0 hrs
Posted: October 21
This game is so slow and glitchy. There are 500 cutscenes just in the first episode. When you want Erica to go look at something she takes a full minute just to turn in that direction before she decides to walk. The glitches aren't too bad.... Mostly graphical (her mouth glitches at one point giving her a disjointed Joker-esque smile.) I spent most of the game waiting for the game to hurry the @!($ up so I could actually do something. Otherwise the idea behind it is fine... Just could've been carried out in a more exciting way.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Resonant Drifter
19.3 hrs
Posted: September 24
With a unique talent to see pieces of the past, Erica Reed must try and solve a series of murders that are personally connected to her and the people around her that she loves. Through four chapters you must use your cunning and special gift to stop the killer, but will you be too late?

  • Excellent storyline that is set up like an episodic TV series
  • Dark atmosphere like a 90s thriller (Profiler, early X-Files, Millenium)
  • Overall very good puzzles with little frustration
  • Really good music/SFX/voicover work (for the most part)
  • Interesting/fleshed out characters

  • Some animations are weird
  • Some pieces of the puzzle aren't obvious
  • Some parts of the story seem dumped on you

Overall, this is a very good point-and-click adventure game. I was very surprised! I loved the whole 90s cop drama atmosphere and interaction with the characters. Over the 4 episodes you really start to feel for the characters as they descend down this path. The puzzles are well done. I didn't have an issue with a puzzle that couldn't be resolved by logic or by coming back at a later time. Well worth it if you like police adventure games!
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28.7 hrs
Posted: September 19
Weak in some parts but lots of fun.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
23.8 hrs
Posted: September 18
Iam pretty sure i got this game from a bundle, so i dont see whats the point to write a review, my opinion wont be counted, handled as a secondary citizen, but i liked this game so why not?

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is a crime themed point and click game. Some part of the game pretty scary, some very emotional and all of the game very interesting.

The story immense, interesting and you cant stop about thinking what will happen next. Voice acting decent, awesome music, if you own this game you definetly should play this game.

The game has a few issues, game frozen 3 times on episode 1 this issue not came up on other episodes tho. There are graphical issues asswell, related to character bodies but you will forget about these while enjoying the story.
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17.5 hrs
Posted: September 16
Loved this game. Interesting story, unique gameplay that evolves with each game, and good voice acting, especially for the genre.
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2.8 hrs
Posted: September 16
nice game
Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.1 hrs
Posted: September 14
Not without problems, but a must play for adventure game fans.
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