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Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1: The Hangman

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1: The Hangman

Platform: iPhone/iPod
Category: Adventure, iPad

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1: The Hangman is an exciting adventure game by Phoenix Online Studios. It follows the classic point-and-click adventure game mold that works very well for a thrilling FBI mystery like Erica Reed's story. Reed is an FBI agent with unique, supernatural abilities that help her solve her case and possibly a personal case as well. The game suffered from a few graphical glitches, but none were game breaking and none hindered the strong story. It was released previously on PC, but I reviewed the iPad version that was recently released.


Cognition uses colors well to set the mood. There are times in which bright, happy colors are used, but there are equally depressing scenes featuring dark, muted colors. The game has a hand-painted look that works well. It's almost cartoon-like in parts but not exaggerated. The character models seem fine when moving about the screen, but faces look a bit odd during close-ups. This wasn't bad enough to detract from my enjoyment of the game luckily. I played with my girlfriend watching, and she specifically thinks that Reed's face looks evil.

There were a few graphical glitches as well. In the last scene, I thought that one of the characters was hiding behind a white board that he or she was holding up like a shield. It took me a minute to realize it was a glitch. I suspect it was a texture that wasn't loading, but every once in while it would disappear, and there didn't seem to be anything with that shape. It was like a small, white wall in front of the character. In the same scene, Reed aims with her gun. Two white squares appear as perpendicular planes centered on her gun. It was odd and a particularly bad place to run into graphical glitches considering it was the culmination of the episode.

In addition, models would sometimes perform actions in the wrong location. In a scene in an interrogation room, a character would pull out a chair and sit in it. I visited this scene many times as I tried to figure out what to do next. Sometimes the character would stand on the wrong side of the table, face the wrong way, and proceed through the motions of pulling out the chair and sitting down despite not being near the chair. A similar problem occurred with a different character in another scene.

If you're playing this game for the graphics, you're playing games for the wrong reason. While I can't overlook this glitches, they didn't occur frequently enough to hinder my enjoyment for the tension and plot.


The audio is a strong aspect of Cognition. The music sets the mood well, and all dialogue is voice-acted. The voices add a lot to the enjoyment and immersion. I can't tell what I think of Reed's Boston accent. It seems to come and go, and it seems stronger than the other characters'. Maybe I'm just unfamiliar with the real accent, but it bothered my girlfriend at times as well.


As you might expect, the story is the strongest aspect of the game. It begins with a cold open of the culmination of a case very close to Reed's heart. After the introduction is finished, the game jumps a few years into the future as Reed works on a murder case. Besides being a good FBI agent, Reed has some supernatural powers; she can touch certain objects to glimpse their pasts. With the help of some friends, she hones this ability and learns variations of it, using it to help find clues to solve the case.

To play Cognition, you can touch and hold your finger to the screen to display a cursor. Dragging your finger moves the cursor. When you touch an object, buttons representing possible actions appear. You can get a description of the item, examine it closely, speak to the object if it's a person, interact with it, or use an item with it. Buttons only display if they have a purpose, so this provides some hint about what to do. If the inventory button is present on an object, there must be some item you can use with it. Sometimes I had to try to select an object a couple times because the cursor could be a little inaccurate, but it was generally okay. A mouse would give much better control, but it stills work on the iPad.

Cognition is very exciting with excellent story pacing. The cold open sets up the game incredibly well. My girlfriend was always very anxious to get me to play more so she could get back into the game. We sometimes stumbled into solutions, but usually I felt like we solved them. Cognition has a good cast of characters, although some aren't as fleshed out as I'd like. The game features a mystically-aware woman, a fellow agent and previous love interest, a stereotypical, donut-loving partner, and a nerdy technician, Terrence. The story comes to a logical stopping point by the end of the episode, but there are definitely more questions to answer in future episodes.


Cognition is an excellent adventure games. Mystery and detective fans should really enjoy it. The juxtaposition of dark, eerie atmospheres with more light-hearted atmospheres works well to give an idea of what it must be like to try to live your life while your job involves horrific things. Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1: The Hangman is $3.99 on the iTunes store. If this is a genre you like, the decision should be "badaboomdingdang! Easy peasy," as Terrence would say. Get it.

This review was based off a copy provided for review purposes. I am MrDevee on Apple's Game Center and @TheUser on Twitter.


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