This review contains SPOILERS for episode 1 of Cognition, so if you haven’t played it and you want to go through it first, don’t read this review yet. In fact, I’m going to put the review under a cut this time. (Yes I actually know how to use cuts, not that my other reviews are any indication.)
In the last episode, Erica discovers that her boss is the Hangman’s next target, but is too late to save her life. Her new boss, McAdams, wants her on the trail of a new serial killer, the Wise Monkey, a killer who takes the eyes, ears, and/or tongue of their victims and leaves behind music related charms.
In addition to Erica’s visions, powers of projection, and regression abilities, this episode adds the power of synergy, where multiple objects from the same point in time can be brought together to yield more information (for instance, a pen and a piece of paper with the wrong phone number on it can be used together to find the correct number). I really like this power. It’s like combining objects but doing it in a way that you clearly see how each object relates to the other.
I would say this episode is much clearer about what it wants the player to do than in the first episode. There were a couple moments where I was stuck and needed a bit of a nudge, but definitely not as many times as the previous episode, and, in one case, the solution to the puzzle was just really unintuitive, like, really, Erica, if you need to get something from Gallagher that badly, there are less obscure ways to do that!
This episode is also much more gruesome than the previous one. It’s much bloodier and violent this time around, and the endgame sequence is particularly gruesome and not recommended if you’re not into your character messing with body parts.
As for things I didn’t like, well, the game still doesn’t like its black characters very much, and the voice acting for some of the side characters is just painful. Of particular note is Melissa, one of the characters you question, who is every bit the New Age hippie stereotype and a failed attempt at a particular puzzle will “reward” you with the most awful singing I’ve ever heard in a video game (although I’ve heard shrieking like that from actual New Agers so I’d call that a stellar bit of acting). At least Rose improved slightly.
My other major issue with this was the endgame sequence, you know how I said that I wished the interrogation in the first episode had just continued uninterrupted? My wish was granted–with a very long puzzle sequence where the game won’t let you save. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but the game froze no less than three times during it, necessitating a restart every time, until I was finally frustrated enough to use a walkthrough. If it weren’t for that that sequence would have been amazing, but it ended up being this frustrating drag (I should note this was with the update installed).
Anyways, those issues aside, episode 2 was pretty great, and I can’t wait to play the next episode!