A new gameplay element is introduced as Erica tracks down the Cain Killer in the game's finale
September 23, 2013
Phoenix Online Studios
Phoenix Online Studios
It is time to visit Erica Reed’s world one final time in the first season of Cognition. Erica is a Psion that uses psychic abilities to learn details about crime scenes in order to do her job as an FBI Agent. Erica’s journey through the first three episodes of Cognition has taught her how to use her powers. Many years before, Erica’s brother was killed by the Cain Killer, and in episode 4 she finally gets the opportunity to track down that killer.
At the end of Cognition Episode 3: The Oracle, Erica experienced one of her future visions, one where she expected to die. In her confusion, she shot her partner. But as part of the experience, she also discovered the identity of the Cain Killer, who killed siblings in pairs. Erica is one of the few who has escaped the Cain Killer. Episode 4 starts the story back in the past, during Erica’s original investigation. As a special treat, we also get to play some aspects of the game as Cordelia, another Psion who has been having visions of Erica for much of her life. These introductory scenes come, and then you reenter the present time. Erica is forced to turn in her badge and gun after shooting her partner. But that doesn’t stop her. She is immediately chasing off after the Cain Killer, trying to prevent him from continuing his killing spree. She meets up with Cordelia and they form a troubled partnership as they work to track him down.The Gameplay
As the fourth episode of a series, I would not have expected Cognition to introduce any new gameplay elements. You’ll find a lot of the elements available from previous games, primarily Erica’s ability to use her psychic powers. As Cordelia, you’ll be able to sneak into the future of an item. Both abilities will serve you well.
This episode, however, introduces a new element to the gameplay: User Trust. When conversing with other characters they have a sliding scale on how much they trust you and the results may affect the gameplay. Since this element is not directly tied to Erica’s special powers, it feels out of place in the game to me. The user trust aspect does not feel like an integrated part of the gameplay.
The puzzles, unfortunately, seem too frustrating this time around. There are a lot of ways to die. Each time you die; you’re presented with a retry button so you can re-negotiate your last dialog choice or puzzle action. Expect to hit that retry button a lot as you play the game. Unfortunately, this added frustration to the game.
In the first two episodes of Cognition, some of the puzzles relate to finding new locations to explore based on clues of the case. However, this episode is much tighter with fewer places. The game will always bring you were you need to go; you just have to solve all the puzzles in the location before you can move on to the next one. This works surprisingly well in the context of the game.
As a fan of Phoenix Online, I was a bit bummed that the Moebius replaced The Silver Lining as the game in Erica’s phone. In terms of puzzles, this is the weakest entry of the four episodes, but I feel the story ends on a satisfying, but melancholy note. If Erica once again comes back for further adventures, I have no idea what to expect. But I’ll go along for the ride.
Final Grade: B+