Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1: The Hangman iPad review

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1: The Hangman iPad reviewWhen one of my lovely PR chums fired out an email detailing a “serial killer adventure” for the iPad, I jumped at the chance to review it. Hey, who doesn’t like a good serial killer? Moving on…

I speak of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1: The Hangman. Uhm, let’s  call it Cognition Episode 1 for short, shall we? Name aside, it's pretty freakin' great.

On the technical side of things, Cognition Episode 1 is a point-and-click adventure, a genre that works particularly well on ye olde touchscreen (as evidenced by Fetch and various others).

As the full title perhaps suggests, Cognition Episode 1 has us taking on the role of Erica Reed, she being a flame-haired Boston-based FBI agent with the ability to see into the past. Yeah, it’s all a bit supernatural.

Poor Erica has a lot on her proverbial plate. For starters, she’s been assigned to a mysterious murder with her lazy (but likeable) partner, the coroner isn’t much help, and a male colleague can’t take no for an answer – all while trying to get over (slight spoiler alert; this is dealt with in the prologue) the death of her brother.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Erica is also increasingly struggling to control her supernatural ability.

As such, the story in Cognition Episode 1 is twofold; it sees Erica investigating the initial murder, while learning to control – and effectively harness – her ability. Good stuff.

And that’s the Cognition Episode 1 story in a nutshell. In fact, I’ve barely scratched the surface there. With around eight hours of gameplay, there’s plenty going on. But is it any good?

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1: The Hangman iPad review

Answer: yes, absolutely. Cognition Episode 1 is superb, from the suitably dark atmosphere to the voice acting to the story to the music to the visuals. Speaking of visuals, it’s comic-book artist Romano Molenaar (Batman, X-Men) on board as Art Director, so your eyeballs can expect some pretty classy stuff.

A few minor gripes, however. Quite early on in Cognition Episode 1, I encountered a bug where Erica would continually – and automatically – walk away from the crime scene. Fortunately a quick Save/Load did the trick, but it was… pretty weird.

Similarly, Erica frequently takes bizarre paths through and over scenery, though she usually gets where she’s going eventually – even if she seems stuck temporarily.

The sound in Cognition Episode 1 was a little glitchy, too. “Good job, Sully” came out as “G’ob, Sully” for example, though there are subtitles to fill in the blanks.

Finally, the black loading screen makes many an appearance, and even when the scene has loaded, it can take several seconds before the game becomes responsive again.

Still, despite that four-paragraph moan, I loved Cognition Episode 1. As a story-based point-and-click adventure, it’s first class. And hey, if you get stuck, you can always text your in-game dad for help. True story.


  • Looks great
  • Fantastically deep story
  • Mostly great voice acting


  • Occasionally getting stuck in scenery
  • Can take a while to load
  • The glitchy sound

Summary: Cognition Episode 1 struggled a little on my iPad 3, but at its core is a brilliant point-and-click “serial killer adventure” with a top notch story, so much so that the aforementioned glitches emphatically failed to ruin my enjoyment. Five stars, baby. Five stars.

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios

Price: £2.49 @ App Store

Requirements: Compatible with iPad 2 or later. Requires iOS 5.1 or later.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1: The Hangman iPad review

Read more about: Apple iPad 3Apple iPad 4Apple iPad miniiOS

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