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Game Review: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller- Episode 2, The Wise Monkey
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Game Review: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller- Episode 2, The Wise Monkey

When I reviewed the first episode of Cognition, in all honesty, it was a title that seemed to be somewhat generic compared to all of the other action and adventure titles that have been released. I wasn’t left with a very good first impression- it hardly had a worthwhile script, the facial expressions were very off, and the characters themselves were very obnoxious and hardly adding mystery, rather, it added more irritating scenarios for the player.

The Wise Monkey- the second episode- on the other hand is better than the first because of how well everything played off. The game itself never felt tedious, or like a chore for me, the reviewer. Rather, it was truly compelling based on the circumstance, and the atmosphere that it produced throughout the whole game.

* Players who have yet to play the first game who do not want to have the story spoiled should not read further
into the review until they have completed it *

Right off the bat, Wise Monkey starts off where episode one ended. A recap of what occurred within the first episode is added in order to remind players of what happened, whether or not they have played the previous episode or not. During the beginning, gamers are reminded that Daves, the leader of the FBI division in Boston was recently murdered; Erica was directly involved, and she failed to stop the murderer, for which blames herself constantly, just as she blamed herself for the death of her brother.

During the first few minutes, Erica is reprimanded harshly by the new leader of the FBI division, McAdams, who tells her that she gets too close to all of the cases, which he claims is what got Daves killed. During this time, the game throws a curve ball where a murderer- known as the Wise Monkey- infiltrates the FBI headquarters, drugs both Sully and Erica, and later not only does she kidnap Sully, but also cuts off his ear.

During the whole campaign, Erica investigates the Wise Monkey, and in general, tries to save Sully before the murderer kills him. During her investigation, she visits several new locations, and even locations that were involved within the previous case are re-visited. Some of the same old characters are still involved in one way or another, which gives the player a good feeling of nostalgia, considering a great deal of the characters that come back are characters that played a major role within the previous episode.

In addition to that is the overall variety of characters that were involved. Throughout the investigation, players will come across many types of people, such as a hippie, or a professor who’s hiding something, which makes you feel motivated to find out what. You’ll run across a girl whose life was ruined, Cognition makes you feel sympathetic for her. In addition to that is the dialogue and script writing which has grown a great deal as well. Erica’s character along with the rest of the cast are far more memorable.

Voice acting and the soundtrack helps significantly as well. The voice actors seem to be better used to their characters and their personalities. Erica Reed especially does a fine job in demonstrating her feelings towards her life partner- Sully- when he gets kidnapped. Or when she discovers certain  things that go on, her voice matches well with the situation at hand. The soundtrack itself is very much the same, containing a total of 27 songs. Cognition, the main song by Austin Hayes is well composed, and sounds incredible and gives a great vibe. The Taking as well, by Raleigh Holmes is another amazing song, because not only does the female single have a great voice, but it adds a layer to the overall atmosphere and the overall feelings that it gives off.

Regardless of how many things are well done with a game, or how many problems are fixed, there will always be problems within a game. Why? Because programmers are not perfect at coding, and the only solution they can find is to hide the problems that are existent within their programs. For Erica Reed Cognition, these problems can either make or break the game; in this case, it breaks the game.

Primarily, the game itself looks terrible. The facial animations never seem to match with what the character script writing is trying to depict, or what you would think they’d feel at that certain situation. In addition to that is that is the character mode, which are not only stiff, but they feel off in every sort of way, especially when trying to walk stairs, specifically for Erica. It’s strange considering that the comic book type of graphics look far better than the models that are created through programming. Furthermore, it would have been nice if they included more of that same type of animation, rather than choppy graphics created in Python or C++.

Sadly that’s not the worst part either. The game has a lot of game breaking glitches in a sense of the word. The game seems to go in an infinite loop at times where it seems as if it’s loading data, but even after waiting a total of 10 minutes, nothing truly seems to happen. These problems should not occur after the game has been released, especially when it should have been tested for glitches or any sort of problems. Sadly, this wouldn’t be much of a problem if the issue was easily detectable, or if there was an auto-save functionality that would let me play the game from the last auto-save, rather than a
save that created an hour back.

In addition to this is the terrible loading times, which truth be told is horrendous. Most if not all scenarios go along the line of; do you want to get off the elevator, yes, and then you wait 10 seconds for the next screen to load. Or if you try to utilize an item on an object, it takes 4 seconds to detect where the object is, or something along that line before Erica seems to respond, which is absurd.

The gameplay portion is far more enjoyable than the previous episode. Unlike other action and adventure games, this episode focuses on information more than how to utilize items for puzzles. A total of three abilities are available. These abilities will allow Erica to be able to increase her cognition power by clicking on multiple instances of memory. Or, she might be able to click on a few items that have seen and been in the same location which when selected and used with her cognition abilities, allow her to see the history of the item. In addition, the final ability to jog a person’s memory, or to look a memory.

Each one of these allow Erica to gather information at an alarming rate, which outside of using screwdrivers for vents, allow her to be able to look past the action and adventure title methodology. Furthermore, information is crucial since without seeing specific memory from Erica’s eyes, she can’t truly confront the problem, nor can she proceed when she doesn’t know where to go next.

The gameplay portion that was truly impressive was the when the game tested your own
cognitive abilities. One of the final puzzles needed Erica to answer a few questions concerning the case, and if the player were attentive throughout the whole game, answering the questions would be easy. One of the other times where you had to help a girl remember what she did in order to find something, in which you would have to recall each and everything she did in order, and the way to do that would be through your own cognition abilities and realizing there is an object that could help you figure it out in
the dream world.

On a side note, there are ton of strange things about this title. Primarily, the game itself has
several FBI agents working at the headquarters, however, no one bothers to help back-up Erica when she’s going against a serial killer. Even John, Erica’s partner is very useless in the sense that he doesn’t include any additional functionality whatsoever.

The ending as well might is something that particularly got my interest. Being a cliffhanger, it might disappoint some fans of the game, however, it was well done and truly got me interested in the next episode, and so on.

Overall, The Wise Monkey is not bad at all in anyway shape or form. It deserves a solid 6.8 for being a title that improves upon the previous one. However, it isn’t a title that deserves a 7 or higher because having glitches like the ones stated above is not acceptable, nor is it convenient for any gamer. In addition to that is that the title itself feels rushed. The game offers a solid 5 hours, but in those 5 hours, the game doesn’t feel particularly expanded, and doesn’t feel as if it reached its own potential in those 5 hours, especially with having all of the characters being somewhat tied into the story.

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Reviewed by Zeeshan Sajid on April 6, 2013

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