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 (209 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 19, 2013

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November 11, 2014

Cognition German translation is now available!

Great news! We have just released the full German translation of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, available now in the latest update to the game.

Genießen Sie das Spiel!

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Reviews

“Greater and more sinister things await us in the following episodes. I can't wait.”
http://indiegames.com/2013/01/cognition_an_erica_reed_thrill.html

“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

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • OS: XP/Vista/7
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 512 MB RAM**
    • Hard Drive: 7 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: ** - Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
    Recommended:
    • OS: XP/Vista/7
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 1 GB RAM**
    • Hard Drive: 7 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: ** - Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
    Minimum:
    • OS: Snow Leopard (10.6.X)
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz*
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 512 MB RAM**
    • Hard Drive: 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
    Recommended:
    • OS: Snow Leopard (10.6.X)
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz*
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 1 GB RAM**
    • Hard Drive: 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
Helpful customer reviews
29 of 31 people (94%) found this review helpful
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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10 of 10 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 25, 2014
Good people + hard work = great product. As naive as it may sound, I strongly believe that. When people with the right ideas and enough love for their project show real commitment, failure is just not an option. And this is the case of Phoenix Online Studios and Cognition. Crowdfunded through Kickstarter, Cognition is a crazy good adventure game, and playing it you kinda wonder how this game could have been made with just 35k dollars.

Despite being pretty common the story is very interesting, it's a thriller story with a strong paranormal vibe and a revenge theme, but what is really good is how they managed to link all the investigations Erica will be involved in. Great work, cool plot twists. Characters are also well described, I loved Erica from the very beginning with all her flaws, fears, doubts. She's a very strong character, but at the same time someone you can relate with. Tridimensional. Puzzles are interesting, not very hard to crack but not super easy either, you'll probably get stuck a couple of times (at least it happened to me, and I loved it, getting stuck and having to think it's a big chunk of what an adventure game is about, for me). Plus, having Jane Jensen (yes, you heard, Jane Jensen *__* ) as a story consultant is a real added value.

So, to wrap it up, a very good game. Interesting, challenging, not a game you'll easily forget. Try it.
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9 of 9 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 2, 2014
Fantastic art with a really twisted story and a gripping soundtrack. The game doesn't necessarily hold your hand even though you can get hints. One of the best murder mystery games out there and it's an indie title!
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
20.5 hrs on record
Posted: September 13, 2014
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is a mature point-and-click (P&C) adventure game heavily focused on storytelling and puzzle-solving with high doses of drama, thrills and unexpected twists which grab your attention right from the start. Set as a gritty murder mystery theme with supernatural elements, you follow Erica Reed, a FBI agent in Boston, trying to unveil and take down the Cain Killer who murdered her brother. While the concept may sound a bit convoluted, it does its job surprisingly well, enough to express gratitude to its godfather, the Gabriel Knight series, for the inspiration and stand on for its own merits.

The strongest point of Cognition is perhaps in its story and narration. Firstly, Cognition is not for the faint hearted. Unlike most P&C adventure games which are traditionally light hearted and occasionally “cartoony” in tone, that is absolutely not the case here. Instead, it is a totally fresh approach -- albeit nothing new per se –- for adults looking for a genuine thriller. As stated earlier, Gabriel Knight is clearly a big inspiration, however Cognition pushes that envelope. What starts as a simple search for the Cain Killer, it eventually turns into a complex story where Erica finds out that there are more killers similar to him, each with their own creepy personalities and unique, yet gruesome, ways to kill their victims and how other characters turn out to be not what they might have seemed at first glance. Almost everyone is hiding dark secrets, and there are plenty of legitimate moments of unexpected twists which you would have never thought of. It can be argued that the game feels like a B-type movie, but if that were the case, it would be amongst the best. Cognition boasts many moments of shock horror, tension and emotional rollercoasters in its journey; sometimes to its own detriment, funnily enough. As much as the story is solid throughout the game, at times it does feel a bit forced with the whole mature content and the melodrama from some of its characters in certain situations, as if the developers tried really hard to make an emotional impact on the audience. So yes, it is forced at times, but nevertheless it is good to see that they are taking risks and throwing all they got into your face. So, on a personal note, it does have an impact. In the end, after the shocking revelations in Episode 3 and seeing the final conclusion, I felt for the characters. Although the story does stumble upon some pacing issues typically midway through an episode, they all start and end on high notes. Lastly, Erica Reed is an exceptionally well-written female protagonist. A bit cocky at times, but as her character development grows with each new episode you start to like her even more and sympathise for what she has to go through. Plus, the voice actor for her is amazing. There is rarely a moment where she cannot deliver a line appropriately.

The most unique game mechanic, even for a P&C adventure game, is Erica’s supernatural cognitive powers which allow her to see events from the past when touching objects. This makes puzzle-solving and the gameplay in general fresh and interesting, setting them aside from the traditional and mundane mechanics of clicking around to see what happens. Moreover, each episode introduces other new abilities and mechanics which allow her to perform various other tasks. In general, the cognitive mechanics are ingenious, functional and most importantly fun to use.

The hand drawn artwork and backgrounds capture that comic book vibe brilliantly and set the mood fittingly. Likewise, all the cutscenes never seize to be so captivating and tense. There is nothing not to love about them. On the other hand, there are possibly two grips with them: the character drawings move statically during the cutscenes and some of the hand drawn backgrounds can look a bit rushed and unpolished in some areas. But with a great soundtrack as well, Cognition’s setting and atmosphere are well established.

The puzzles here never feel hard throughout most of the game, but they can still be challenging (especially in the second last episode) and sometimes silly. Yes, there are a few puzzles which seem a bit out of place (ie. lockpicking the boss’s office in full view of everyone else) which can break some of the immersion, but in most parts Cognition provides interesting approaches to puzzles with its cognitive mechanics. The puzzles get even better with each new episode, except in the final episode which lacks as many puzzles as in previous episodes and instead focuses more on tying all the loose ends of the story.

Surprisingly, through a first playthrough, the game can last as long as 20 hours, at least in my case. Thus it provides quite a lot content for its current price tag; substantially more than other adventure games out there, even compared to high budget ones. Even through a second playthrough, now knowing how to solve all the puzzles and where to go to look for clues, the game is perhaps around 15 hours long, which is still remarkable.

As much as Cognition seems to be like the best new P&C adventure game in years, it has some major flaws which can harm what it sets to achieve. Firstly, graphically it is not impressive at all and by that I mean the character models. Since it uses the Unity engine, the characters look like plasticine. Moreover, the animations are not impressive either. There will be moments which they can break immersion if you are a nitpicky person. If you are looking for something as fluent and polished up as The Book Of Unwritten Tales’ graphics for example, Cognition is not what you are looking for. And that is a big problem because it makes Cognition look unprofessional on the surface. While the artwork is great and praise-worthy, seeing average looking models with clunky animations on top of beautifully hand drawn backgrounds can be underwhelming. Luckily, if you own the Game of the Year Edition, most of the animations are much smoother and polished up, but nothing too drastic. The transition from the hand drawn characters in cutscenes to 3D does not work.

Secondly, due to the scope of the game and the size of the team, there had to be some compromises on realism. For instance, buildings can be rather unpopulated. The FBI station’s main office is a long room with no more than around six people (not all interactive) including Erica inside. Surely the FBI has a lot more agents in a single room in real-life. It is understandable that being confined by a small budget and probably lack of manpower stopped the team from adding more realistic details. And on the topic of realism, in a way it fails to realistically capture how FBI agents actually behave and work due to some improbable dialogues and situations which you would not see in real-life. While the story is gripping and it is its stongest point, Cognition is not very realistic in some aspects.

Lastly, the support characters can be corny and cliché at times, but plausible if you can accept them as they are.

Conclusively, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is a blasting experience from start to finish which will sure leave a good lasting impression after finishing its long gritty story in the style of Gabriel Knight and Jack The Ripper; even despite its flaws due to the lack of resources that well-established companies like Telltale Games have at their hands. It is good see such a young and talented developing team taking risks with their mature story and unique gameplay mechanics. It definitely rivals acclaimed games such as The Walking Dead and even Jane Jensen’s Gabriel Knight in the story department. So if that is enough incentive for you to give this game a chance and get past its undercooked graphics and animations, it will be the best $10 you will ever spend. And yes, I would proudly say this was the best point-and-click adventure game of 2013. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
26.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 21, 2014
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is an excellent adventure game. It's one of the best "pure" adventures games that I've played since TellTale's The Walking Dead: Season 1. quite frankly. Cognition's first season is excellent, with more twist + turns in the story; really logical puzzles (for the most part); really good character development.

Without spoiling too much here - Erica Reed is a cop, her brother Scott gets taken, and she begins chasing after this serial killer. You play mostly as Erica, embarking on this journey of finding out more about this killer, the past of the killer, and who the killer plans to attack next. This is just the tip of the iceberg here, as there's a lot more than that that is going on in this game, story-wise, play-wise, and character-wise.

A few of the puzzles are tough, but the Hint System can give you just enough to point you in the right direction to help you figure it out. At some point - Erica begins having visions, learning she has powers that can help her solve puzzles. Not only that, but there are puzzles based around her visions are extremely well integrated into the game. I don't want to spoil too much, but each episode seems to integrate a new type of puzzle that has to deal with her abilities.

Even the final episode (Episode 4) introduces a new mechanic, which I'm sure is going to have some replaying the last episode, since it can even change some of the actual journey of the final chapter & the actual final outcome of the game.

There's very few flaws + problems w/ this season. The voice-acting quality is the biggest problem, as it's all over the place. Erica, Cordelia, and John are the best voice-acted characters; and then the quality for the rest of the characters are all over the place. The graphics do have the very interesting, stylish and comic-book type of look - ranging more on the artistic side, instead of having any sort of real technical quality.

None of those above-said flaws should stop you from playing this game, as those are very minor problems with this game. After 26 hours or so with this game, there was hardly any moments where I was not wanting to find out what's going to develop and happen next in the story + to these characters. The game kept things fresh with new puzzle types + new game mechanics, with each episode. With never a dull moment, even for its length - the game kept me constantly engaged. Fans of murder-mysteries; cop + FBI stories; old-school style adventure games w/ logical puzzles (and a Hint system to help those who get stuck, which will point you a bit in the right direction); great character development; and great dialogue - look no further than the excellent Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller.

Final Grade = B+
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
17.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
Serial killers, torture devices and psychic powers - the story of Cognition is a mix of Saw and The X-Files. You play as FBI agent Erica Reed, trying to solve a series of serial killings with the help of a unique psychic ability. Each episode focuses on 1 serial killer, but there's an overarching story connecting all of them. I would like to say more, but I'm afraid of revealing too much.

Gameplay-wise, the best thing about the game is the hint-system. If you're ever stuck, you can message one of Erica's friends in-game with your phone. The hints are helpful most of the time, but they won't give you the answers outright, so you still keep a sense of accomplishment when making progress.

Another nice feature is that there's a button that reveals all hotspots, so you won't be pixel-hunting!

The graphics are decent enough although the character animations aren't the best. The music and voice acting are excellent though. Some of my favourite tracks are played when you're solving a puzzle or trying to escape a scary situation.

Complaints:
1) A few logic glitches allow you to do the same thing more than once, but the effect is the same. Luckily this doesn't actually hinder progress, but it may confuse the player a little.
2) Dialogue is mostly skippable, but there are some you can't skip, and it gets annoying when it occurs in the middle of a puzzle.

Overall verdict: 8.5/10
One of the best point-and-click adventure games ever.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
28.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 12, 2014
I was scepticle about this game before I start playing it - mostly because I was not a fan of the genre ( point & click adventure) at all.
The only reason I started it is to see how "♥♥♥♥♥♥" this game was. But I was wrong
After I finished the first two episodes of the game I was eager for more - I had the first two episodes from a bundle and I wanted to continue playing.

Such a well written and story rich game, with amazing graphics. It gives you the suspense of a great thriller and at the same time makes you eager for more.
Now that I finished the game I must say that you can never evaluate a game or a genre before spending enough time of playing it.
This is the game that made me a fan of Point & Click Adventure Games and one of the few that I'll always look up to when it comes to Point & Click Adventure game with rich and intriguing story
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
19.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 16, 2014
A great murder mystery game for those who like to wrap their minds around a thrilling story! Really memorable soundtrack and voice acting, and the puzzles offer just the right amount of challenge.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.5 hrs on record
Posted: September 17, 2014
GReat thriller game (point and click). It's great fun trying to solve very interesting cases. Is worth every penny.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 16, 2014
Best Point & Click game i ever played, and i have played alot. The puzzles really hard (for me), but the story was the one always driven me foward to finish the game.

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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 12, 2014
A very good third-person view adventure game with modern graphics. The story line is exciting and the dark atmosphere is also unique. There are some graphical bugs, but not too many. The full game include 4 episodes, which are different in quality but in overall it is a highly recommended game for those who like dark/horror classical adventure games.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
14.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 17, 2014
A truly fantastic point-and-click adventure game in 4 episodes. I am not going to spoil too much here as I want it to be left completely open to be enjoyed.

In short, you play Erica Reed, an FBI agent who is after an insane killer who has made his murders a little too personal. That is all I am going to say for plot! You'll just have to play it to find out more....

This game is designed in the style of a dark comic book. The graphics are nice though the characters are outlined in rather grating black lines which I wasn't too fond of. However, the environments are beautifully hand-drawn pictures, very similar to Broken Sword 1, 2 and 5.

The interface is very simple, using point-and-click mechanics that adventure game fans will be fairly familiar with. Objects of interest in the surroundings usually stand out a little so no pixel-hunting is really required. A major plus!

The game is delievered with a nice soundtrack, with pieces set to carry forward the emotions that the scenes are trying to portray. This really brings out the emotional, tense, and tender moments throughout the game. The voice-acting ranges from mediocre to good.

There is a small choice system in this game. Sometimes situations will be presented whereby there is more than one solution (and more than one possible achievement). This adds a small replay value as the choices can affect the subsequent reactions.

If you can forgive the graphical glitches, you will become truly immersed in this story-rich adventure, which delves into the very heart of the human psyche, and seeks to question our conscience and how far we will go if pushed.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
31.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
In this classic point and click thriller with touches of horror, you play Erica Reed - FBI agent - hot on the trail of a serial killer. As the story unfolds Erica develops several paranormal abilities that allow her to gain additional information on events and at scenes.

The interface with objects and people becomes more complicated as the game progresses and in one chapter you need to keep your faculties about you as you switch between watching future events to get tips on the past that you need to interact with in the present. Sound complicated? Not really, there is plenty of onscreen help, a killer soundtrack and great dialogue throughout.

The trademark of Jane Jensen is clear in this edge-of-your-seat, mind-bending puzzler. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
If you are interested in a point-and-click mystery/adventure game with hours and hours of play, I think this is something you should try out. Even though I have not gotten half way through the content, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is definitely a game that I would recommend to someone.

Pros:
Cognition has an exciting storyline that is brimming with drama and touches of gore. This is all brought out vividly through comic-strip-like cut-scenes that are very well drawn and fun to watch. In addition to the cut-scenes, the makers really make an effort to provide voice acting (which is helpful for suckers like me who don’t want to read).

In addition to the great storyline, you’re invited to activate your thinking process throughout the game. Not only do you collect and search for clues, but you also solve a variety of puzzles which are linked to the cases. The amount of cerebration involved not only makes it great solo-play, but also team-play if you like working with others.

Cons:
When playing this game, you’ll find out that there is a steep learning curve in the beginning. Finding out what the functions are on keys was what made it hard for me to play. If you keep an open mind and continue trying out buttons, you’ll soon get how to play the game and mangle your way through cases. :P

Overall, this game has been very enjoyable for me and I’m going to play it until the end!
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 28, 2014
A fun point-and-click mystery game. Story was good and grapics was pretty nice.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
16.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 30, 2014
A great adventure, totally recommend it.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 2, 2014
A fresh and exciting adventure game. Sadly, the other two episodes have only been bundled once so far, and even then the price was more than I was willing to pay.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
24.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 14, 2014
I knew about this at the kickstarter stage, but decided on this one to wait till it was complete. Recently saw an online sale and picked it up and was I glad I did! This was an AMAZING game. I really enjoyed it. It was spooky, eerie, (and a little gory!) but had a lot of great puzzles that were just the right amount of hard to enjoy solving without getting bogged down for too long. I never had to use the hint system, but I wasn't stuck for days beating my head against a wall. That, to me, is perfection in adventure game writing. The storyline was fun, though whoever came up with this serial killer idea, well, I hope you have a therapist to talk to! Disturbing! (but in a good way!)

I I loved the soundtrack, the voice artist work was so fantastic (Raleigh Holmes, who does the voice of Erica Reed, is amazing -- She hit all the right notes, emotions and tones. Best voiceover work in any game I've played. I heard she was battling an illness, so I hope she gets well soon and does a sequel!!!!) Thanks Phoenix Online for distributing a great game, keep doing stuff in this type of point and click adventure genre and I will be a happy customer.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
22.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 17, 2014
One of the best adventure games I have ever played, an excellent job of balancing the bleakness of the amazing story with wanting to keep you figuring out what happens next.

Not quite as good of a hint system as the Broken Sword games but I still appreciate any game that gives any kind of nudges to save me from just going to look up a walkthrough.

Episodes 1-3 are stronger than 4 in a gameplay sense, but the entire story was very well crafted and well worth seeing through to the end.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2014
I have always been a fan of point and click style adventure games and this game is right up there with some of my favorites. I enjoy the story and the humor and the gameplay itself is even pretty fun, all in all I recommend this title.
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