Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1 - The Hangman
Immediately upon entering the game you get options for resolution: anywhere from 640x480 to 1960x1280, and you can choose the quality of the graphics as well (nice for those with slower systems.) If you want to play Windowed, check the option here. Once you're in and check out the Settings, you'll see there are three tabs with options: Display with Anti-aliasing (which I didn't touch; ) Audio with separate sliders for Music, Sound Effects, Voices, and Master Volume; and Gameplay with options for Subtitles, Hints, Tutorial, and English or Dutch for the language.
SO, the game! Let's get to the game!
I highly recommend having the hints and tutorials ON the first time you play... and maybe subsequent times, as well
These are not invasive at all, and it's important to understand the mechanics, which are not
your basic adventure fare! OK, some are pretty basic. For instance, click on an active item and see a circle with one to three options: An Eye (the better to see you with my dear!) a Hand to physically interact with things, and a Suitcase, which is how you use your inventory. Whatever item you have showing in the top right corner is the item which you'll try to use when you click on that suitcase button.
So how to change the inventory item? Click on the square box at the top right of the screen to open your inventory. Now you have three options (again? Yes, again!) There's an Eye (same as above), a Hang (yes... same again!) and a Plus Sign, which is what you use to combine items.
Sound complicated? It's really not, it just takes a little bit of getting used to.
Back to the inventory, you select your "active" item (the one you're currently holding) by simply clicking on the item you want. You don't have to click on any of the options to change what you're holding.
Double-clicking will make Erica run (yay!) and when we click on an exit, you automatically leave the scene -- we don't have to wait for her to walk over there. Very much appreciated!
Hold down the space bar or click and hold the question mark at the top left of the screen to show you the active areas in the scene(s). Also at the top left are quick access to your cell phone (much easier and faster than accessing it through your inventory!) and clicking on the computer image will take you back to the main game page where you can SAVE SAVE SAVE! I recommend doing this often
! For one thing here are choices you can make that will affect gameplay, and you may want to do things differently the next time you play. In the end you will find yourself in the same place, but the journey
will differ depending on your actions. Second is that you can -- and will
-- die. You get to replay this sequence as often as you need to, but still... knowing that you can die makes things a little nerve-racking!
Your cell phone will be invaluable to you. You use to search the web, look up music, make phone calls (of course,) take pictures, look at the calendar, and make NOTES. Yes, you make your own notes. There is no journal -- if there's something you want to remember, be sure to add it to the notes in your phone. There is one other option: Message Dad. Sending messages to Dad is how you get HINTS in the game, and they are truly HINTS, and not just telling you exactly what to do.
The art style is probably the first thing you notice about the game. They are very graphic novel-esque, with cartoon-like cutscenes. Don't let that throw you off! The voices and mannerisms of the characters are so beautifully done, and the story so intensely interesting that you quickly become immersed in this world. I'm kind of glad that the graphics aren't any more realistic than they are, as it would be just too much for me, I think. I'm so impressed with how well Phoenix Studios integrated realistic human movements into the characters, right down to the way we tend to rub our fingers together to get the salt off after we've eaten a potato chip. VERY NICELY DONE!
The story itself is gritty and dark, as would be expected with a real life-type environment. We have horrible antagonists, strong personalities, some f-bombs, and semi-disturbing imagery. It's not gory but do expect to see things you would see on a crime-type TV drama.
Speaking of which, our forensics guy and someone we interrogate remind me strongly
of characters in Criminal Minds, and that's an apt comparison since the game kind of plays out like this TV drama: Intense, full of personality, and very interesting.
Ahh, I just realized that I haven't mentioned what's so different about the gameplay, yet!
Haha, there's just so much to mention! What we have is a psychic detective! As we progress through the game, we learn new ways to use our abilities. Hopefully you've got your tutorial on so that you'll learn what that's all about!
To use your abilities, you click on the glowing ball at the bottom left side of the screen, then click on the item(s) you want to learn about and click on the ball (which will now have an image in it) again.
The psychic abilities are, I think, what really makes this game stand out for me. It's so beautifully and seamlessly done... I'm just so impressed.
For me the gameplay was very intuitive, and I love not only being able to make my own choices about how the story plays out, but also that there is freedom to explore as you wish. Yes, it if was more linear I wouldn't be traveling around so much, but in this game, I really LIKE that I had this freedom!
I admit that I had to use the walkthrough a few times... mostly because it took me more than one sitting to play the game, and I forgot some things. Twice, though, I got completely stuck despite the walkthrough
The first time was my own stupidity, and the second was because I didn't even think to try the solution
Overall I'd say that this is the most immersive pure adventure I've played (not that I've played that many.
) I truly enjoyed every minute I spent as Erica Reed, and I most definitely need to get the other three episodes! Now to wait for a really stellar deal to come along...
Highly recommended if you like playing the detective!