This is a dark, gritty tale that takes place in contemporary Boston. The prologue opens as Erica Reed, FBI agent, follows the trail of a serial killer who enjoys torturing his victims before killing them. As the Prologue unfolds, Erica is lured into a graveyard by this lunatic killer. The result is brutal and disturbing.

Fast forward to the current day, and Erica is at her desk, upset because the serial killer's last crime has been officially declared a cold case. She is called away on a new case – a victim strung up and hung from a pipe in a tumble-down building on the outskirts of town.

Graphic Visions

The story is tense and dramatic, with emotions running strong and with spicy language to match. Erica is a zealous agent, certain that her gut instincts are correct. She has an unusual talent – the ability to touch items or people and see scenes from the recent past. (She calls this her “intuition.”) This can be a huge benefit to investigating crimes and discovering truths – but each flashback is so brief that, unless Erica fully understands the context, the implications can be misleading. The visions can also spiral out of her control, showing her more than she wishes to see.

The graphics in Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller are reminiscent of a stylish graphic novel. They are hand drawn, featuring unusual lighting and quirky angles. Character animation is rather stiff. The background music ranges from vivid and throbbing to ritualistic and ominous. Voiceovers are expressive and believable.

This is a game played from the third person perspective with a point-and-click interface. Some of the challenges involve inventory items and some are set pieces requiring pattern analysis. Intriguingly, Erica’s “post-cognitive” abilities are woven into the puzzle challenges, as the player can use Erica’s intuition on certain objects to see what has recently happened to the object -- or to gain insight into what is unfolding in the object’s general vicinity.

A Date with the Hangman

The game is releasing in four episodes, the first of which -- The Hangman -- will be available on October 30th. The developers, Phoenix Online Studios, are well known for their previous episodic venture: The Silver Lining. You can find out more about Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – The Hangman at the Phoenix Online website.

For those who like their mysteries twisty, dark, and suspenseful, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller stands ready to deliver.