Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

The pedigree behind adventure game, Cognition: Episode 1, is quite extraordinary. With designer Jane Jensen of Gabriel Knight and Gray Matter fame on board as story consultant and Batman, Witchblade, Tomb Raider and X-Men comic artist, Romano Molenaar, as art director, it’s clear this is going to be something special.

Cognition: Episode 1 is indeed quite special but, as a PC port, it suffers from a frustrating interface that does dampen the enjoyment that can be had from this distinctly cinematic noire piece.

Thrown straight into the action, players are tasked with the role of FBI agent Erica Reed as she attempts to solve a series of nasty murders, committed by a similarly dark serial killer. Like so many other quality adventure games, there’s much more to it, including the fate of Erica’s brother, which unfolds early on in the game. One important thing to take from all of this is Erica’s special ability, enabling her to be partially psychic and see what occurred earlier at a crime scene. This skill adds quite a layer to proceedings and proves particularly useful while solving puzzles and exploring the landscape.

The puzzles themselves are a generally quite straight forward bunch for the point and click aficionado. Do expect to work one’s way through plenty of dialogue between the characters to truly know what to do or where to go next. This is where Cognition: Episode 1 falters a little, given that, while Erica is a well rounded character, her partner John and other important roles such as boyfriend Sully, are much more shallow. At times, the pacing is off too, perhaps showing too realistically the occasional tedium of investigating a crime scene as well as the thrills that also come with it.

Cognition: Episode 1‘s biggest issues come with its conversion. On my iPad 2, it stuttered and struggled at times with long loading screens proving particularly infuriating. Using a point and touch interface, Cognition: Episode 1 hasn’t been optimized for the iPad with the need to walk around rather than simply look around the scene. More annoying is that to see the spots that can be interacted with, the player must hold a finger to the screen, before then tapping on an object elsewhere. It gets cumbersome and does detract slightly from the rest of the game.

With such a moody and genuinely mature storyline, Cognition: Episode 1 redeems itself from these technical issues, but it’s still something to bear in mind. It’s the kind of problems that I hope to see rectified in future instalments, something that any adventure game fan should have their fingers tightly crossed for.

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