Cognition – Episode 3: The Oracle
The Cognition Episodic series is certainly charming in its own way, using (elements) of comics as an ode of appreciation and passion to deliver a story. Phoenix have found their niche in horror adventure games and are fond of elaborate, puzzling story telling. Cognition doesn’t fall short of their strengths, if the polishing of each episode can be overlooked. While the art style is brilliant and something to be praised, there are times the game comes across as awkward.
Episode Three: The Oracle is the big pay off in this series. It further develops the identity of a twisted murderer bordering on the line of serial killer obsessed with sibling bonds. FBI agent Erica Reed, our protagonist, lost her brother to this maniacal person and is out for vengeance. With each case she’s put on, Reed has tried to link the murders to The Cain Killer, a name adopted throughout Cognition, and she has ruffled more than a few feathers at the top while doing so. She has been growing distant to her FBI agent partner John, and their relationship is at strain all throughout her investigation. She has one big advantage on her side though, her cognitive abilities, often referred to as her intuition.
The story is certainly detailed with many dialogue options, as you can expect in such an investigative adventure game. The details of each clue become quite obscure but the help of other characters and Cognition’s clever hint system can pull you out of that frustration. From the beginning of Episode Three, you have access to all four of Reed’s powers that have been discovered through previous episodes. These are what make this game stand out to other regular point and clicks, and adds a further element of discovery. Her most fundamental and important power is introduced in this episode – a way to look into the future. It brings a character who is common and possibly endeared in the series into the spotlight.
Immediately met with action, Cognition doesn’t play around. It’s a point and click adventure and you need to put the clues together. As an investigator, you have an array of tools at your fingertips. As technology has progressed, you no longer have to drive to your office to access files from your computer. This is a welcomed convenience, as having to access a rudimentary GTA-style map each time you wanted to visit somewhere became overly tedious. Reed has the help of her technical genius friend Terence, who sends useful file information whenever required. This Episode more importantly keeps you in one location and keeps loading screens minimal. I found this to be something in the first two episodes that kept drawing me out of the interest and action.
Reed is an intricate character, there are many facets to her that don’t always come through as natural. This is made up by the level of detail Phoenix puts into her set up and self-discovery. It’s obvious that each relationship has been fleshed out, so that emotions between character feel a little more real. Unfortunately the delivery of the story isn’t always as polished as you might like. The 3D models on a flat background have left a lot to be desired, often lagging and frustrating to control. While the artwork is absolutely beautiful and stylised with a realistic nature, I wish it was used more rather than Phoenix’s poor attempt to lip-sync and create gestures with their models as at times it feels lazy. Some mediocre dialogue scripting also makes conversation feel quite unnatural.
- – Beautiful art-style is to be commended, especially in cut scenes
- – Episode Three is certainly the pay off in the series, telling an intricate story
- – Execution of 3D models and dialogue scenes
- – Unnatural reaction Reed has with people, as well as reactions of others not always making sense
If you’ve played the first two, this is a game you have to get straight into. All the hard work in going through the long set-up of the first two feels worth it for the story told in this one. It’s a bit shorter and possibly easier than the first two, but it doesn’t detract from the discovery. If you haven’t tried the Cognition games yet, I would certainly recommend at least playing the first one if you’re planning on skipping ahead. There are a lot of story elements poignant to what Episode Three is about, and would be a shame if these were missed. If anything, enjoy the art style and the comic-like cut scenes, they certainly tell and interesting story.
Score – 6.5/10
Written by Yiánna Paris