Be aware this review contains mild spoilers of all three episodes, nothing too detrimental but I'd still recommend playing the game first - these games are awesome!
After the gripping conclusion of Episode 2 in which Erika (you) finds most of Sully still alive but strapped into a death machine, and what’s left of The Wise Monkey Killer (Joey Gothals), has discovers that he can’t, in fact, fly, I’ve been anxious to find out what happens in Episode 3 – The Oracle, and I wasn't disappointed.
Episode 3 - The Oracle starts off only a few hours after Erika and Sully arrive at the hospital. Erika hasn’t left Sully’s bedside and doesn't intend to, but then she gets a cryptic phone call from her partner John McCoy (voiced by Ed Crane) telling her to stay away from Enthon Tower. This is the very place she’d requested a squad car be placed at to keep an eye on her friend Cordelia Smith (voiced by Amy K. Browne), after she mentioned seeing a man lurking near her apartment. John's strange warning to stay away only piques Erika's curiosity and she soon arrives at the crime scene. Even more curious was the presence of Director McAdams and the apparent absence of John. Against everything protocol dictates, for some reason Joey's body and all the evidence had been bagged and removed as quickly as possible.
With a little know-how and a little second sight Erika manages to get into the elite block of flats, with intention of locating John and working out what hell is going on. She finds herself on the balcony, where a few hours before The Hat Killer had thrown Joey to his death, and her visions take a very strange turn. Suddenly she finds herself trapped in one, but this time instead of just seeing what happened the person responsible for Joey’s death is actually talking directly to her.
Points of Interest
Episode 3 differs from Episodes 1 and 2 in that you spend rest of the game at Enthon Towers using the evidence you're presented with to work out what's happened, rather than running around to different locations interviewing people.
The other interesting part to this episode is that you don’t simply play as Erika, you also play as her friend Cordelia. Erika uses her abilities to look into the past to try piece together the reason why John had left such a cryptic message in the first place, why McAdams was there and what actually happened to Cordelia’s brother Max (from who's grave Erika stole a rose). In so doing you gain control of Cordelia as she tells her story in the past.
For the most part, Episode 3 felt a lot lighter than Episodes 1 and 2, it feels more like you're solving a mystery and learning about the characters than desperately hunting a killer. Ultimately this just lulls you into a false sense of security, because by God does it remind you that it’s still Cognition before the end of the game. I you don’t know what that means you’ve either not played the games, not read my reviews on Episodes 1 and 2 or both!
The voice acting was fantastic as usual, the use of visuals with regards to the painted backgrounds and general decoration of the penthouse was incredible. I found myself just walking through the place looking at it, thinking about how I’d like to live somewhere like that one day. And of course, the music is just wonderful, subtle enough to not fill up the mind but powerful enough to send a shiver down your spine when it wants to.
The world also seems more interactive. The walls are covered with art, which both Erika and Cordelia have opinions about, and this added an interesting dynamic and showed how different but yet how similar they really are. I that like I got to know Erika and her likes and dislikes a little more.
I found this episode a little more mentally puzzling, mainly because it mostly takes place in one location, you’re instantly presented with most of the puzzle pieces and it’s up to you to put them together. I knew that this time I wasn’t looking for something or trying to ask the right questions, I needed to work out what had happened to find out what would happen next using the information I had.
As expected, I loved it. I can’t find fault with these games, they’re exactly the type of game that I enjoy most and these guys are doing it perfectly - if I were in charge I’d be trying to make this game! I can’t wait for Episode 4, partly because I'm desperate to find out what happens next but also because I really enjoy playing the game. I know I get swept up in the romance of it all, but on a purely mechanical level I like looking at clues and putting the story together, I enjoy the actual playing of these games just as much as I love the story, so I want more.