Lots of episodic content tends to fall flat once you get close to their end. They either rush it along and lose their pace, or like in most cases, you’re likely uninterested by the time the last episode is out. The same can be said about games, due to how long it takes to develop and conclude a story in playable chunks. In Cognition‘s case, though, it’s been worth the wait. Episode 3 will leave you wanting for more by the time you’re done, as the series approaches its final chapter.
Much like previous episodes, The Oracle relies in the smart use of Erica’s cognitive powers, like regression, which allows her to tap into another person’s memories, or being able to see into the past by finding particular items. The puzzle difficulty got a sizable increase for this episode. Her visions now take place in various planes and timelines, shedding light on the backstory of Cordelia Smith, who is now revealed to also have powers of her own. Much of the game takes place in a single environment, as you switch back and forth from Erica to Cordelia in order to acquire new pieces of information that are then used in conversations and puzzles.
As mentioned before, thanks to the bigger gap between epísode releases, it seems that Phoenix Online Studios took the opportunity to add more complexity to the story. The Oracle delivers a lot in terms of narrative, and the twists and turns albeit sometimes predictable, are enjoyable nonetheless, delivered through the same style of motion comics panels as in previous chapters.
While the motion comic format works extremely well in delivering the story, the rest of Cognition’s presentation is still rather stiff – character models animate rather weirdly and the voice acting tends to be all over the place in terms of quality. Erica’s actress is by far the best voice in the game, while some of the new characters introduced in this chapter fail to convey much of what’s being read.
Regardless of some of the overall presentation issues, Cognition‘s script and mature approach to storytelling is to be commended. Even though there’s a pretty thorough hint system that can be used at any time during the game, the puzzle design is done rather well and hardly ever throws you for an illogical loop, which tends to be the case for a lot of point and click adventure games.
Now it’s only a matter of closing off the story and seeing through this case ’til the end. A tall task that up until now, Phoenix Studios Online has shown to be pretty capable of delivering in spades. The chills and thrills of this episode are evidence enough to put any doubts to rest. Will the killer be caught?