Warning: Minor spoilers for the previous Cognition episodes follow.
‘Cognition Episode Four: The Cain Killer’ is the long-awaited and gruesome climax to an adventure series we started almost a year ago. Agent Erica Reed has been through hell since losing her brother to the titular psychopath in the opening episode, and things aren’t about to get any better for the red-headed detective. But can she blow a massive raspberry at fate and escape the horrific end she’s already foreseen?
All of the Cognition series’ revelations came in the previous episode, so there are no killer twists or secrets stashed away in part four. Rather, it’s a straightforward game of cat and mouse, as Erica rushes to find the killer before they commit the next terrible deed - although it’s not always obvious who fills each role.
Erica and Cordelia are now working as partners, and this arrangement forms many of the puzzles, as you combine their powers in order to survive the killer’s devious games. By now, Cognition fans really should have no trouble figuring out when to use each power. In fact, we felt this was easily the most simple of the four episodes, with none of the brain-scratchers foiling us for more than a few minutes. We had the whole thing wrapped up in well under four hours, cutscenes and all.
There are a couple of new gameplay additions in episode four, the most prominent being the trust meter which pops up during conversations. It’s a simple concept: don’t piss off the person you’re talking to, and the trust meter fills up. This will then determine how they react to you. Tell someone they’re a big girl’s blouse, and chances are they won’t bother to help you out of a sticky situation.
The trust meter does affect a couple of key scenes in the game, and helps to determine which of the two endings you receive. In general conversation it’s usually pretty obvious which choice to make, but we did enjoy the opening scene, where you have to try and convince an arms dealer that you’re one of the bad guys. The slippery sod is pretty damn cautious, so you need to think fast in order to beat him.
Overall, and certainly compared to the first two episodes, the pace of the game is swift enough to keep things exciting. The finale seems a little rushed perhaps, but escaping from the killers’ deadly traps is a highlight of the series, requiring nerves of steel as well as some swift mouse-clicking (although nothing too intense, for adventurers who hate action bits). We also thought the conclusion was satisfying enough, despite the troublesome niggle that everything finishes a little too neatly. We won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, however.
So, Cognition Episode Four: The Cain Killer is a short but sweet end to an enjoyable, original and thoroughly twisted adventure. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed guiding Agent Erica through all kinds of messed-up, grisly hijinks this past year, and we’re hoping for more twisted tales from Phoenix Online Studios soon.