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 (223 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!

16 comments Read more


“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!

Steam Greenlight

This game was picked with help from the Steam Community. To vote for other games you’d like to
see made available on Steam, please visit Steam Greenlight.

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**
    • Hard Drive: 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**
    • Hard Drive: 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**
    • 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
    • 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
33 of 35 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
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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5 of 5 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
32.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 7
It's a very good psychological thriller game which I will remember for a long time.

I'm really glad that I could play in it, we need more games like this one :)

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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
28.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 12, 2014
I was sceptical about this game before I even start playing it - mostly because I was not a fan of the genre ( point & click adventure) at all.
The only reason I decided to play is to see how "♥♥♥♥♥♥" this game was. But I was wrong
After I finished the first two episodes of the game I was impatient to continue the story - I had the first two episodes from a bundle and felt anticipated to get the next episodes.

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 a game with rich and compelling story
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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.

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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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
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
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.

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.

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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4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
-Bum can't remember info about case
-Make him remember by feeding him
-Doughnuts not good enough for bum
-Neither is food from the vending machine
-Got to use Egg Sandwich that your character refused to pick up previously
-Now you need to feed him the other stuff as well
-Also: A minute of the same, unskippable walking animation between every attempt to feed him

I've played quite a lot of Point&Clicks, so I think I am used to the somewhat slow nature of the genre, but this game's riddle design is just way to abstruse and boring. Which is sad, because there are some redeeming features, such as interesting characters and plot, plus nice background art (character models look kind of disturbing, though)

Bonus Feature: Three Crashes in under 2h playtime!
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5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
15.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 8
Right now, this is a review about the first episode and ~10% of the second one.

First of all, I really like the art style of this game. It has that comic book/cell shading aesthetic you may already know from Telltale games like "The Walking Dead" or "The Wolf Among Us" (or even -non TTG- XIII but that was quite a while ago). Most of the backgrounds are hand drawn though, which results in a very comic-escque blend. I prefer it over the "Telltale Style" which sometimes feels a bit too sterile for my taste.

The soundtrack as a whole is right around the upper threshold of "Okay", surpassing it with some haunting piano pieces, dipping way into "Meh" regions in the selection of the ambient theme of a store you visit quite regularly. Someone really dropped the ball there, light hearted, up-tempo Bossa (Elevator Music, basically) doesn't mix with moody antique stores/spiritual guidance etablissements that only open when the sun goes down.

Most of the voice acting is great, bordering on sublime, especially in the cases of the two main investigators. Unfortunately there are some very weak performances as well, including the obligatory badly faked Louisiana accent.

With aesthetics out of the way, let's take a look at the controls:

They're awful.

I'm not even kidding. Rarely has a game made me groan out in annoyance as often as Cognition did in the few hours I spent with it so far. Granted, for the most part it was a mix of sub-par puzzle design and awkward controls, but still.

The protagonist reacts rather lethargically to your mouse input. It kinda feels like you're trying to get an 18-wheeler to move instead of a rather athletic young Special Agent of ~60kg (~130lbs).

There are also some really unnecessary animations. In the office you can't move until the door of the elevator you just stepped out of closes. Sitting down by your desk, opening a door, it all just manages to overshoot the sweet spot (in terms of the length of the animation) ever so slightly. Lots of tiny things that really slow down the games pace and make you dread the idea of having to visit locations more often than necessary (which the game, being an adventure game after all, requires you to do pretty much all the time).
Same for the "I can't use the dead squirrel with the cheese grater" monologue snippets the adventure game veteran loves to hate. All just that tiny bit too long. It helps turning off the tutorials in the menu, though.

Then there's the controls on maps and elevator panels and such. Think you can just click the floor/location you want to get to? Guess again, it opens the context menu, which gives you the option to "Inspect" or "Use (go to)" said floor or location. Every. Damn. Time.

There's always a ~2 second loading time when switching screens, which also gets old very quickly. You'd think that a game with pre-rendered backgrounds, released in 2012, would handle that a bit more gracefully. Same for the transitions into and out of the "Intuition" mechanic.

You also get unexplainable interface lags. Entering a room or exiting an inspection (more on that later) sometimes causes the user interface to be unresponsive for up to 5 seconds. The game itself doesn't lag, animations, music, everything runs smoothly, you just can't click or do anything, sometimes the interface overlay doesn't even show up but sometimes it does. This was especially noticeable in the first "action scene" of the game.

Now, what do I mean when I say inspection? Well, that's basically all screens that have the word "Exit" written on them in blue letters. It happens when you're sitting at a desk, when you're "zooming in" to inspect certain items closer, stuff like that. Now while you're inside an inspection-screen you won't be able to open certain other inspection-screens. This may sound a bit abstract but let me give you an example:
One puzzle requires you to sit at a desk (first inspection level), use a computer (next inspection level) and read a text file on that computer, which contains the code word to open something you have in your inventory. You won't be able to inspect (in this case: zoom in to be able to interact with) said inventory item to enter the code until you logged out of the computer and stood up from the desk.

Also, if you're using two monitors you gotta be careful not to click outside the game window. Even in fullscreen mode the game doesn't capture the cursor.

One quirk I noticed: When you leave a location to the map screen and you click that location again, the sound of the car's motor still plays, although you never actually travelled anywhere.

But wait, there's more:

In certain cases, the game gives you the option to make a decision. Take this or that agent to the interrogation, accept or decline the lunch invitation of your FWB-slash-colleague (it's complicated), force or persuade a witness to make a statement.
In other cases it forces you to steal a flower from someones grave because you forgot to bring your own for the anniversary of your brother's death. Now I get that you're trying to do some exposition here, but man. Really?

Also, plot holes.


You get taken off a case because it's too personal. It was your case, the whole first episode revolved around it. In the end you realize that the next victim is going to be your boss. You hurry to the scene, guns blazing, but it's already too late and the murderer gets away. During your debrief with the new boss you start to feel a little dizzy and stumble to the bathroom. On your way there, before falling unconscious, you see a woman dragging your FWB-slash-colleague ("Sully") out of the door, cutting his ear off with a scalpel. What you didn't know is that you and Sully were drugged by your impostor office assistant while waiting outside the bosses office for your debriefs. Right after you wake up the boss assigns you to the case. Literally 20 minutes (that's ingame time, about 30 seconds real time) after taking you off of a case that's too personal because your boss died in it he assigns you to a case in which both you and your love interest are the victims. He doesn't even give you the time to get up.

Then there's the usual minor deus-ex-machina, logical error and/or techno-babble you always quietly hope they manage to avoid but they always fail to (minor spoilers):

- police officer needs your phone's PIN number to send you a GPS-location

- magical gadget from techno geek/forensics expert/trapped in friendzone-limbo "pal" (more on him later) only needs the manufacturer's color code from a spray paint can to make text that was sprayed over in said color appear. It also tricks finger print readers by projecting an image of the finger print onto the detector

- FBI outpost records interrogations on tape but doesn't have any gear to listen to the recordings

- grumpy old coroner won't give you her tape recorder to listen to potentionally critical recordings

- the office assistant's computer shows a (presumably...hopefully) confidential case file opened on her screen

- the lead investigators monitor also always shows that case file, even after logging out and leaving the desk

- so do several other computers in that office

- office full of people doesn't give a rat's a** that you're picking the door to your bosses office

And then, finally, there's the cast. Pretty compelling for the most part, like already mentioned with the odd outlier but there's also "pal". Evidently the two of you took some undergrad courses together and evidently he's been sleeping on a pillow with your face printed on it and sobbing into his TV dinners ever since. He actually pretty much looks like the "2/10, would not bang"-guy from that old image macro.

Unfortunately I'm running out of characters but their interactions are really something. I just hope it's done on purpose.
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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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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
34.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2014
One of the best, if not THE best, Point & Click adventure games i have played this decade.
Puzzles are challenging enough to praise yourself upon clearing them with a hint system that will not spoil anything.
The plot is so well thought out that it will peek your interest until the credits roll.
Though it has 4 episodes, each one will take 5 to 6 hours to complete making this well worth the price.

Cognition : A revenge story with a lot of feels. So much feels.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 11, 2014
Pre-Release Review
It’s without a doubt that this series has been faulty in many departments, such as character animation and meaningful conversation. It’s the thrill of the story and its darkest manner of presentation that kept me sticking to it for all four episodes. Episode 4, in this regard, is a genuine treat. Full Review.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
68.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 17
There are things in Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller I really like and some things I find pretty frustrating. Putting it all together I'd still recommend the game which excels in setting scenes and telling a story, has interesting game mechanics but also is sometimes glitchy and bossy.

+ Uses original music to set scenes, especially fitting for tense situations
+ Overall story is interesting and well interwoven with game mechanics
+ Metroidvania-esque
+ Good voice-acting
+ Decisions; at times the adventure includes sort of lifelike decisions, i.e. the game gets harder if you choose stupidly
+ In-game notepad that can interact with the OS clipboard; good for reviews
- Bossy, requires player to do odd things or things odd
- Episodes made me visit website at the end of each credits roll even though I bought the whole series
- In-game notepad not always available
- Achievements sometimes require repetition of parts unnecessarily including lengthy scenes
- In-game commercials

From the start the game managed to grip me and put me into a tense atmosphere. This was immensely helped by the main musical theme, the non-distracting good voice-acting and the mystery surrounding Erica's supernatural powers. I laud all of those. Enjoyably those elements worked for me in pretty much all the pivotal scenes.
The game mostly kept me interested to see how the story would unfold and which of my questions would be answered. Though there are story drivers, twists and turns - some of which I'm made part of, some I just watch - I strongly disagree with.
Erica is a crime investigator, still she
  • unnecessarily touches pieces of evidence with bare hands (artefact),
  • basically encourages tampering with evidence (dean),
  • disregards the account of a witness claiming to recently having seen a serial killer (Cordelia),
  • is unnaturally easy to ambush (episodes 1 and 4),
  • steals without need a flower from a grave (story driver).
There are more objectionable actions but they are sufficiently well explained by the storyline.

When I say the game is bossy I refer to a certain linearity. Sometimes you are, without prior or subsequent explanation, required to do things in a certain order, sometimes you are hinted to do something which you actually cannot do yet and sometimes you cannot actively do an action that is immediately afterwards done by the game. Example: I tried to call John and Erica stated there is no reason for that. So instead I left the scene directly leading to a cutscene in which the first thing that happened is Erica calling John.

The game feels unfinished or rather unpolished in places. And several transition are not state-safe.
  • There is a clickable ladder that supposedly "leads to the roof" but there is no hatch above it.
  • After sitting down at her desk Erica can walk away with the game thinking she is still seated. When the game catches up Erica runs through the stand-up routine wherever she might be at the moment and the chair magically moves by itself.
  • Certain dialogues leave Erica broken, literally. Her upper body is bend back in an unhealthy way, arms sticking out and her head moves about in a fashion the makers of The Exorcist could only dream of.
  • Leaving the actual interrogation room can retain elements of the GUI that shouldn't be available.
  • There is a graveyard scene where you collect the locket followed by a cutscene. When I clicked next I was presented with "Skip cutscene?" even though the cutscene ended already.
  • At some point Erica's synergy power was suddenly disabled, i.e. clicking the cognition sphere disappears the inventory and even the open inventory button.
  • Everyone is obsessed with the Cain Killer, see office monitors.
  • Playing on the "Fastest" graphics settings I saw some pretty ugly facial animations. By the looks of it only half the points of the lip polyline moved.
  • Sometimes the safe at Longmore's apartment is available as an interaction point when inspecting the desk. When inspecting the safe from inspecting the desk and then exiting will have the desk gone as an item to interact with and looking at the keyboard afterwards takes you to the Boston travel map.
  • Pieces of the photo are mirrored in the inventory "Next - 7".
  • For some reason you can only retry the scene or close the game altogether after dying.

As said before, the player almost immediately learns about Erica's supernatural powers. Those powers focus on the past and develop over time into four branches specific to different situations and are later complemented by Cordelia's precognition in a way I find really satisfying and appropriately confusing.
Another well-established mechanic is the played character voicing inner thoughts to the player. The game is not quite breaking the fourth wall when one of those voicings is overheard and reacted to by another character. I found that pretty immersion-breaking. Fortunately that only happened once very early in the game.
One of the most interesting things I have encountered in Cognition and games in general in quite some time is the notepad that is available in Erica's phone. Not only is it editable but it can also cut, copy and paste and uses for those purposes the clipboard of the player's OS. This means that you can import text to and, more importantly, export text from the game. This is very useful for reviews and was used for this one. Unfortunately, the notepad is only available most of the time and doesn't transfer between episodes.
Erica's phone is also used to advertise real-world games for which Erica seems "totally hyped". Irritatingly, that excitement is apparently more important than to uphold the current atmosphere.

In episode 3 'exits' are no longer used but simply clicked. On the one hand this is convenient but you don't always know which object is an 'exit'.
When coming into a room the game sometimes takes several seconds before actually letting the player do anything. This would be ok were a triggered sequence to follow but is irritating otherwise.

  • Save at the beginning of scenes to have access to dialogue and hints later on.
  • If an object seems useless there is about a 50% chance this is because of one of the decisions that actually influence the story.
  • Erica and strangely Cordelia as well may not be as clever and clear-seeing as you are. More often than I would have liked you sort of need to firmly establish a fact before Erica can act on it. So what you tried earlier to no avail may be fruitful later on.

A few times I sort of fell out of the flow, i.e. I became unaware of what needed to be done next and twice went brute-forcing. Well, let's not blame the game for that.
The conclusion of episode 3 was very awkward and almost turned me away from Cognition - could be verbalised as "It almost looks like they will.. They wouldn't! Would they?! Oh no, come on man." Still, the story pulled me back.
My final gripes concern the fact that I had to visit the website of the publisher every time after the credits rolled in order to get back to the game menu and the fact that the main menu has a gallery which apparently should have concept art, cinematics and 'behind the scenes' but is consistently empty.

For all the problems stated above (and a few unstated) I'm unlikely to replay Cognition but I did enjoy the one play-through and recommend it to players that like adventures and a dose of mystery.
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