Indie Game Review: Cognition: Episode 2—The Wise Monkey

Phoenix Online Studio’s Cognition: Episode 2—The Wise Monkey is a point and click adventure game starring a psychic detective called Erica Reed. For those who have played the first episode of the game, this sequel will feel instantly familiar. For this reason, the general gameplay has been reviewed in our coverage of Episode 1, so let’s cover the story and presentation here.

Kicking off only a few hours after the conclusion of Episode 1, it isn’t long before Erica Reed is met with more tragedy and sets out on another detective quest.

This quest is much darker than the previous one. It’s moodier, more atmospheric and more graphic. Eric is on the chase of The Wise Monkey, a serial killer who has a particularly disgusting way of dealing with enemies, by cutting out their eyes, tongue and ears.

You’ll be meeting the same characters in this game as in the predecessor, but you’ll get to know them much better as some characters who were given little game time in Episode 1 have made their way to centre stage in Episode 2.  Sadly, a couple of these characters have are rendered utterly unbelievable thanks to some dodgy voice acting. This wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the voice actor for lead character Erica Reed hardly puts in a stellar performance herself.

If you’re a fan of point and click adventure games you are probably most interested in the story, which is good news as it’s here that The Wise Monkey shines. The scenes, which feature both scenes from Episode 1 as well as some all new ones, are atmospheric and serve to get your imagination hooked in the game. The cinematics, which is where most of the story develops, are excellent, featuring some of top of the line production values, and the plot itself is gripping.

I can’t help but feel a little irritated with the lack of finesse in this game. The story is great, the gameplay is solid and there are moments when you truly find yourself immersed in the game’s world, but it’s let down by occasionally dodgy character animations and by completely unbelievable voice acting.

In this day and age there really isn’t an excuse for bad voice acting. Being an actor myself I’m more than aware of the number of talented voice actors out there who will work for nothing more than a credit written in small font at the end of a game. The same is probably true for character animators. Artist in this day and age are two a penny (no offense, artists. .. heck, I’m one of you). In fact, it is also worth mentioning, with regard to voice actors, that often it isn’t the actor’s fault but more to do with the fact that game developers often don’t know how to direct. . . but heck, that gets into a whole different argument and actually sounds like a feature article I might write soon. . .

I wrote it sooner than expected: How to work with a voice actor on a game

Get the voice acting right and polish up the animation and you’ve got a hit. As it is, you’ve got a good, reasonably solid title with a great story.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5: It’s solid, has a great story and will certainly entertain, but you’ll be left wondering why a little more effort wasn’t put into ironing out the creases.

for more visit the game developer’s website .

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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