First off, a Warning
This review is written under the assumption that the reader has played through Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1 - The Hangman, which you can read about here. if you have not, what’s wrong with you? Go play it, also there are Ep 1 spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned!
Episode 2 is directed by Katie Hallahan.
The game kicks off mere hours after Episode 1 concludes, with the whole department still reeling from the murder of Madison Davies (voiced by Stephanie Harris). It’s once again 2 in the morning and Erica can’t help but blame herself for Davies’ death, but her ever faithful not-boyfriend Sully (Voiced by Jeff Machado) is still there still trying to take her mind of things. Acting Director McAdams, having flown in from DC, is going through the motions of debriefing everyone to try get a clear idea of who and how someone could have kidnapped and murdered an FBI director.
In an attempt to get Erica’s mind off the events of the night and her guilt, Sully discusses his latest case with her, which involves a serial killer who likes to take the eyes, ears and tongue of his victims as trophies and always leaves behind a small silver charm-bracelet charm. Before you can really get back to sanity its Erica’s turn to go ibefore of McAdams and explain what happened. Moments later she starts to feel woozy, and it gets harder and harder to concentrate. Eventually she steps outside to get some water, just in time to see someone grab an equally disorientated Sully and slice his ear off and drag him away just before you faint. You awake soon after, but all that's left of Sully is his ear and a small silver charm.
I found Episode 2 quicker to play through than Episode 1, not only because I was used to the nature of the puzzles but also because I felt pushed to solve the case faster. This fits the story as you’re hunting someone who has kidnapped a FBI agent, and from the station no less. This is unlike Episode 1, where you don’t know Davies was actually missing until she’s staring at you with cold dead eyes. Episode 2 felt a lot more streamlined, a few seemingly unnecessary details from Episode 1 have been dropped and it all feels a lot more together.
I like how harsh this game is, and that it doesn’t pull its punches. I also have to say that it’s brutal without being disgusting. You still have to study photos of victims who are missing eyes, ears and tongues and you really get the dramatic side of it, but it’s not grotesque. It uses the game's art to invokes an emotional response rather than one of exaggerated violence. This is both better and worse at the same time, because you don’t look away in disgust, you clench your teeth and study the files to make sure you know what you’re up against so you can solve the case as quick as possible, and that leaves an impression. The story compels you to try harder and move faster, or it did me anyway.
Along the way Erica picks up a few new tricks with regards to her special ability, with many thanks to the lovely Rose (voice by Arabella Grayson) who’s always willing to lend a kind shoulder in times of extreme crisis.
I do want to take a moment to talk about the music in this game, not because it stands out so much, but because it doesn't. You don't really hear it but you know it's there because when you eventually switch off the computer and go to bed it's still playing in your head, setting the tone of your dreams for the next few days. It seems to creep in under your skin and really makes you aware of the growing sense of unease and danger Erica feels as you continue through the story. If you like musical scores, you really should check out the soundtrack, as Austin Haynes did a fantastic job.
I’m both excited and scared of what’s to come in Episodes 3 and 4. I can’t wait to find out where the story is going, but I’m also fully aware that there is no guarantee that it’ll be a nice place to end up. But I love the story anyway, which is so well written, and I love the characters, whot are excellently voiced. I’m not expert on Boston accents, but they all sounds like the few people I do know who come from that area. Again, the only negative things I have to mention are a few graphical glitches which could very well be an incorrect setting on my computer, and that the story is so engaging that it makes me sad.
I wish them all the best at the Aggie Awards, I think they should win. All success to them, they’re half way through what I believe is going to be a classic game series. It's one for the ages, and if you still haven’t played it go and buy a copy now. Hell buy twelve and give them to your friends to play. This game deserves to be successful.
There is also a campaign to make Cognition available on Steam, which would be awesome, so if you've played the game and like it or just want to help up, click the link and vote yes.