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Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

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Total Posts: 347

Joined 2006-07-30

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I just finished Episode 1 and I thought it was great.  I really enjoyed the story and the puzzles.  The “regression” puzzle was probably my favorite adventure game puzzle since the police vault puzzle in Resonance.  The game definitely has a Gabriel Knight vibe going on.  And the music and cutscenes remind me of Gray Matter.  So, the Jane Jensen influence is definitely felt, but the game is also unique from those.  The voice acting of Erica Reed definitely grew on me, and it was fun to see in the credits that it is Jane Jensen’s step daughter doing the vocals for her.  Also, with their inclusion in this and Grey Matter, I guess The Scarlet Furies will have to be the rock band of note for us adventure gamers.  I liked the demo, but the main game is so much better than the demo.  I really liked the cognition mechanic and how it changed throughout the episode. 

On the negative side, as I posted earlier, the release was not the smoothest.  But worse than that, the game has at least two killer bugs that make it unwinnable, both of which I experienced firsthand.  In one, if you don’t click on an item when it first becomes unavailable, you are unable to get it later and the game cannot progress (and this is a glitch, not part of the story).

If you don’t click on the niche when projecting the hanged man and if you leave that location, you will be unable to project the hanged man again and thus can’t get the important items within.

I am a person who never looks at hints for adventure games.  I would rather spend hours trying to figure it out or just not beat the game if I can’t.  So, I probably spend a couple of hours trying to figure out what I might be doing wrong.  This can be a natural part of any adventure game, trying to find the item you’re missing to progress.  If it turns out that the item you’re looking for is unobtainable because of a glitch, I feel this a mortal sin in adventure games and almost a total deal-breaker.  I eventually looked on the Phoenix support forums when I began to suspect this may be a glitch, and that is how I found out other people had experienced this.  Thank God I had saved earlier and was able to go back to a point about 45 minutes earlier in the game.

Another game-breaking glitch I experienced was later in the game:

I was unable to leave the police station and do anything else in the game because Erica wanted to talk about a message with John.  Unfortunately, I had already talked with him about it, but the game could not progress further.

At least this second offense was clearly recognizable as a glitch.  Again, this was remedied by me going to an earlier save. 

If I had not been enjoying the game so very much, that first glitch would have been a total deal-breaker.  As it is, I really encourage the developers to please spend as much time as they need to get these episodes out and not rush them out with game-killing glitches.  I see no reason why both of these should not have been discovered in beta testing (it seems many people had the same problems on the forums).

But, let this not dissuade you.  It really was a great game, and I’m looking forward to the next episode very much.  My advice would be to just treat it like an old Sierra game: save early and save often.

     
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Total Posts: 4011

Joined 2011-04-01

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I’m glad there was a demo for this game otherwise I would have wasted money on this dull game. The plot was some superficial psychic crime thing we’ve seen a hundred times before, and the characters had absolutely no personality.

If I could, I would like to make one thing clear to developers: stop introducing characters in the middle of some crisis we have no reason to care about. You have to make some effort into making them interesting first so that we DO care. That’s what GK did, though I suppose it’s unfair to compare since they had Tim Curry. The graphics were nice (except for that horrid cell-shading which I HATE), which makes me think that’s where most of the development time went.

     
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Total Posts: 2878

Joined 2012-03-09

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Finished it yesterday. VERY good effort, a nice beggining to the series, pretty big for just an episode. The characters were all very likeable and realistic, with voices that felt right into the spot. Unlike the voives, the music was a bit repeatable and a somewhat anticlimatic in some scenes. I liked the idea of cognition very much and it was really interesting to see it in practice. Should have been easier to use it though (should have been a 1-click ability instead of 2-3 ones). I found the graphics a bit odd at first, but when I got used to them I realised they were pretty nice and fitting into the game. As a game in general, it reminded me a lot of GK and I dare say that it succeds in being as atmospheric as the old similar Sierra games of the past. It’s difficulty is in a good level. Not too hard to ruin the game’s pace - not too easy to spoil the fun. I hear that people mentioned some killer bugs. Thank God I didn’t met any of those…

     
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Total Posts: 643

Joined 2006-09-24

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Sefir - 06 November 2012 08:08 AM

Finished it yesterday. VERY good effort, a nice beggining to the series, pretty big for just an episode. The characters were all very likeable and realistic, with voices that felt right into the spot. Unlike the voives, the music was a bit repeatable and a somewhat anticlimatic in some scenes. I liked the idea of cognition very much and it was really interesting to see it in practice. Should have been easier to use it though (should have been a 1-click ability instead of 2-3 ones). I found the graphics a bit odd at first, but when I got used to them I realised they were pretty nice and fitting into the game. As a game in general, it reminded me a lot of GK and I dare say that it succeds in being as atmospheric as the old similar Sierra games of the past. It’s difficulty is in a good level. Not too hard to ruin the game’s pace - not too easy to spoil the fun. I hear that people mentioned some killer bugs. Thank God I didn’t met any of those…

That’s how I felt as well! Just wicked awesome in all regards.

     

Total Posts: 15

Joined 2012-04-04

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Anybody impressed with Raleigh Holmes’ voice acting? It’s kind of weird that the singer has more believable voice and line delivery than others, presumably professional voice-over actors.

     
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Total Posts: 121

Joined 2011-10-25

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Raleigh is actually a professional actress as well; her first movie, Crawlspace, recently released a trailer:

(And hopefully will be out soon, too!)

     

Katie Hallahan
Designer, PR Director
Phoenix Online Studios

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Total Posts: 419

Joined 2003-09-12

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The first episode was indeed really good.

There were some small but annoying loading times and some animations were a bit slow (worst was the subtitles). I did manage to hit one of the major bugs but it felt pretty obvious so that didn’t destroy my enjoyment of the game.

Very interesting game characters and the cognition abilities were a magnificent gameplay feature. I especially liked the part with the progression ability. The aesthetics of a comic book was used to its fullest potential which looked great.

To claim that I’m anticipating the next episode is a huge understatement.  Smile

     

NP: A Link Between Worlds, Beneath a Steel Sky and Vampyr

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Total Posts: 37

Joined 2006-01-10

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Just wanted to chime in with a mini-review since I just finished it and noticed that the developers check this thread.

Overall, really good. Complex storyline and a deep main character, great job on adding a lot of dimension to Erica. I agree with the complaints that the secondary characters are a tad bland. Perhaps a scene or two of backstory for them would have helped though it’s probably just the glaring contrast to Erica that makes them feel even more thin than they are.

Music, incredible. And love the cut scene style, similar to Grey Matter which I loved as well. The graphics run from a solid 7-8 to a 10. Some of the backgrounds are incredible, but the 3D models are occasionally clunky but not bad enough to distract completely from the game. The 2D backgrounds and cut scenes more than make up for it.

The storyline is very well done and much more complex and interesting than similar games. Dialogue was well-written, just wish it was a bit more for the secondary characters. The game was at its best when it was adding some depth to Erica (her talk at the cemetery, talks with Rose).

I loved the regression puzzle. There are not enough puzzles like that in adventure games today.  I thought the puzzles were good, agree with the review here that some stretched reason but I think they could have been set up a little differently to make them more believable. Voice acting was great, especially Erica obviously. The others were totally fine. 

Very good start and I can’t wait until the other episodes. Feels like an extra Jane Jensen adventure we’re blessed with… but that would be not fair. I think after Cognition is complete we’ll be anticipating the next Cesar Bittar adventure.

tl;dr: keep the storyline complex, keep adding to Erica depth, fit in some extra dialogue depth for secondary characters.

     
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Total Posts: 121

Joined 2011-10-25

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Thanks for the feedback, Phod! Glad you enjoyed the game Smile

     

Katie Hallahan
Designer, PR Director
Phoenix Online Studios

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Total Posts: 121

Joined 2011-10-25

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Hey everyone, this Friday is the next announcement of greenlit games on Steam, and we’d love to be one of them! If you enjoyed the game, please vote us up on Steam and share the link!

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92915746

Also, Steam’s Greenlight FAQ states that they will provide keys for customers who already purchased the game elsewhere, so even if you’ve already got your copy (thanks!), you can still get a Steam copy once we get through this process. Smile

If you don’t have a copy, leave a comment on the Greenlight page & you’ll be entered to win a free copy of Episode 1 or the soundtrack!

Thank you!!

     

Katie Hallahan
Designer, PR Director
Phoenix Online Studios

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Total Posts: 122

Joined 2007-05-15

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I finally managed to find time to play the first episode and I loved it!

It was especially exciting that my name popped up in the first episode! Grin Was a nice surprise.

Also, did anyone else notice the little easter eggs when looking at the spray cans?

Heart

     

Total Posts: 119

Joined 2010-02-15

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Just for reference, probably a limited time thing, but this place is selling the first episode of Cognition for $2.49 if anyone is interested: http://www.greenmangaming.com/s/us/en/pc/games/adventure/cognition-erica-reed-thriller-episode-1-hangman/

     
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Total Posts: 121

Joined 2011-10-25

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We’ve just today announced that Episode 2: The Wise Monkey will be released on January 30th! Also sometime in January, we’re releasing Ep 1 for the iPad!

When someone close to Erica is kidnapped by the Wise Monkey, a serial killer fixated on the gruesome mutilation of their victims, and Erica is in a race against time to save his life. With the Wise Monkey case in her hands and the FBI’s resources already stretched thin, she’s on her own to find the killer before it’s too late—again.

Got some screenshots from Ep 2 added to our Greenlight page—check ‘em out!

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92915746

     

Katie Hallahan
Designer, PR Director
Phoenix Online Studios

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Total Posts: 1368

Joined 2005-12-06

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Well that was well spent 2 euros right there Smile.

Really liked the first episode. Right away when starting thought Erica’s voice was nice and then there was the brilliant music, especially good in all the more intensive scenes. During the opening credits I noticed Erica was Raleigh Holmes and right after that there was a Scarlet Furies poster, haha. Also noticed the spray cans, the green one was GK, those letters just don’t stand for anything else in my case.

I hope the series continues strong and of course gets even better Wink. I noticed some overall slowness and unskippable dialogue but nothing major that would actually ruin the game. No bugs or crashes or anything like that either. I’ve always like puzzles like the visions here and I’m glad there were several kinds, not just clicking everything through. The difficulty level was good. I roamed around a bit during the regression puzzle because I just completely forgot to try some items again after progressing a bit.

And I didn’t even know you could fail with the trap at the beginning, I’m just that awesome Wink. But I guess there were a few other cases where you could do things in two different ways. (Or I just nailed them all Crazy) I wonder if any of those choices have impact to future situations?

     

Currently playing: Requiescence, Divinity II
Recently finished: The Silent Age, Overland, Before We Leave, Demonheart, SoulSet, Quantum Consciense, Amnesia: Memories
My game reviews and other stuff: Lux Atarnia

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Total Posts: 121

Joined 2011-10-25

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Thanks millenia! Glad you enjoyed it! Smile

The branching paths are contained inside each episode. Our goal is to build up to being able to carry those over from one episode to another eventually, but for now this was our ‘baby step’ towards that end. But even so, I think they make for carving a unique path for the player, deciding how Erica interacts with her coworkers, etc.

     

Katie Hallahan
Designer, PR Director
Phoenix Online Studios

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