Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Genre: Mystery Roleplay Crime Thriller
This is the second episode of the indie game series Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller by Phoenix Online Studios. After being so enraptured by the first game, I had to continue on with the second and see what happens. Since I had a season pass, I played this episode the day it released! Check out my review of the first episode of the series to catch up and receive more background on the game.
After Erica’s failure to save Captain Davies, the young FBI agent is beginning to doubt herself. To make matters worse, her co-worker and crush Agent Sullivan is kidnapped by the terrifying and brutal killer known as the Wise Monkey. Erica runs a race against time as she rushes to save Sully from becoming the serial killer’s next victim. She will need to hone her mysterious cognition abilities and utilize the help from the mysterious anonymous tipper known as the Oracle if she is going to prevent the loss of yet another loved one.
Violence/Scary Imagery: This is by far the most graphic of the saga and is definitely unsuitable for younger players. I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone under 15. The Wise Monkey is a killer who removes the eyes, ears, and/or tongue from his/her (trying to keep this spoiler free here) victims. You can imagine this would have some pretty unsavory displays and it does.
One character has his ear sliced off in front of Erica and you see several removed eyes, ears, and tongues. You also watch someone about to have said organs removed and see the aftermath of the removed organs on corpses. There are also some bullet wounds and knife wounds that have quite a bit of blood. A woman dies instantly by hanging and a man is pushed from a high building onto a car at the bottom. Because this is animation and mostly shown in the dark it is obscured but still creepy.
Language/Crude Humor: Like the previous game, this one has a lot of swearing and it gets tiresome. Sh** 15x, h*** 12x, b**** 5x, godd*** x2, b**** x1, frikking x1, d*** x6, shoot x1, a**hole x2, screw x2, crap x2, jack*** x1, balls x1, a** x3, d*****bag x1, plus six f-bombs, plus the Lord’s name taken in vain numerous times.
Sexual Content: Nothing too severe. A guy becomes obsessed with a girl, but nothing sexual happens between them. The worst besides that is a few hugs.
Drug/Alcohol Use: There is one alcohol reference.
Spiritual Content: A Ouija board is used at one point, but it isn’t creepy or mystical in the least. If anything, it’s comical. The cognition ability could be considered like magic or supernatural, but it has nothing to do with spells or the like.
Other Negative Themes: Erica tricks someone into signing an important document for her.
Positive Content: Erica has a sacrificial nature as she does whatever it takes to save Sully. She also has a positive relationship with her father that’s really touching. The story also has themes of never giving up no matter what.
The gameplay is a typical point-and-click. You click on the screen where you want to go and what you want to interact with. By double-clicking, you can run. You have speech options during dialogue, and an inventory where you store items such as your gun or badge. You also have a cognition icon that you click to enact your ability. Objects and people you can use your powers on become highlighted in colored mist. You can also fire a gun by aiming with your mouse and clicking in some sequences.
Lastly, the decisions you make in the game effect how the game turns out. This is a puzzle game so you’ll have to search for clues and solve challenges to progress. I did have to look up cheats for the climactic sequence since it is a bit difficult because you’re under pressure. Sometimes it does get a bit tedious traveling between places, though.
“The Wise Monkey” is definitely the most chilling of the saga, while “The Cain Killer” is the most terrifying of the four episodes. The plot is gripping as you rush to save the playing character Erica’s love and it grows more and more unnerving as the killer sends her creepy messages and tokens to the point Erica almost reaches her breaking point. On top of that, Erica begins to learn more and more about her special abilities. The story holds you to the end and is probably the strongest feature of the game. The case you’re working on has layers upon layers of mystery, including the person known as the Oracle texting you. Essentially two plots are interwoven very well. The writing is superb and keeps you guessing who the killer is to the end.
Many new characters are introduced as you further delve into the Boston area from the Dean of Burkley University to a hippie college student to Sam McAdams, the new head of the FBI after Davies’s tragic death. Old characters such as Rose and John return as well, and you begin to learn more about each of them. The backstories and personalities are very fleshed out for each one. The voice acting is well done, especially with the villain.
The art is unique and has a graphic novel feel. The animation is pretty good as well, but it can be a bit glitchy in areas, though I’m more lenient with that since this is an Indie game and the first original game this company has done.
The puzzles are harder than the previous and new cognition abilities are added to your repertoire. The climactic puzzle is the most intense, especially since you can’t back out of it. I got so worked up in that section I was flushing and my heart racing.
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 2: “The Wise Monkey” is a very gripping and thrilling game with a fantastic plot. The language and gore can understandably be a put off for many players, but if you’re okay with those then this is a chilling, well-written game that will hold you in suspense till the end.
The Bottom Line
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 2: "The Wise Monkey" is a very gripping and thrilling game with a fantastic plot. The language and gore can understandably be a put off for many players, but if you're okay with those then this is a chilling, well-written game that will hold you in suspense till the end.