Cognition Episode 2: The Wise Monkey begins almost immediately after the first episode ends. FBI Agent Jared Sullivan is kidnapped by a serial killer, and series protagonist Erica Reed must find him before it’s too late. She’ll do this with a combination of good old-fashioned detective work coupled with her blossoming psychic ability.
The game assumes you’ve played the first episode and know what you’re doing. As such, you won’t find any tutorials explaining the interface or Erica’s abilities. This isn’t a big deal because everything’s easy enough to figure out if you’re familiar with the point-and-click adventure genre. Besides, you shouldn’t be playing The Wise Monkey if you didn’t play the first Cognition game anyway. Because it’s Erica’s friend that is in danger, the game feels much more personal, a connection that deepens as you encounter other callbacks from the first game. By the time you reach the end of the Episode 2, you’ll see that there’s much more going on than meets the eye. It was enough to make me eager to see what will happen in Episode 3.
Your investigation isn’t difficult, for the most part. The puzzles are rooted in logic, and a seasoned adventure game player shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting through the bulk of it. The flow of the game isn’t the best, however, since it’s highly linear and doesn’t properly telegraph when you need to switch from the main investigation to some random side-task.
As an example: at the beginning of the game, Erica is told her friend Cordelia came looking for her and wants to talk. If you try calling Cordelia right away, Erica will refuse to do so, saying that she needs to find Sullivan. That’s fair enough, but after awhile I got stuck and couldn’t progress in the investigation. I thought I had missed something, so I backtracked through all the available areas multiple times, trying all sorts of crazy things. It turns out in order to move the story forward, I needed to contact Cordelia, but there was no indication that was the right thing to do. The game was more than happy to let me bumble around and waste my time. Similar situations cropped up a few times as I played.
There’s a hint system in place that’s supposed to help, but that only proves useful half the time. Here’s a tip for any potential game designers in the audience: having your help system say “I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” doesn’t count as a hint, especially when the solution is so bizarre it’s not something your character would or should logically have to do.
Another weak point is the ending mini-game, which presents a brutal intellectual trial that tests how much you’ve been paying attention. Some of the things you’re asked are very small details that I certainly didn’t pay attention to, and getting three answers wrong means restarting the sequence from the beginning. Most of the questions can’t be brute-forced by randomly guessing either, so if you haven’t been taking copious notes you’ll either have to reload an earlier save to go looking for the information, or consult a walkthrough online. There are a couple bugs that cropped up as well. Another TPGer experienced a strange situation at the start, where she couldn’t walk or run during the first screen. Restarting the game remedied that for her. I also experienced a freeze in the middle of the game that caused me to lose some progress. That’s partially my fault because I forgot to save, but the game really should have implemented an autosave feature.
Conclusion—Is It Worth The Money?
Overall, however, Cognition Episode 2 is a solid adventure game that’s well worth the 10 dollar price tag. The plot kept me interested the entire time, and I felt a real desire to solve the case and save Sullivan. It also ends on a very nice cliffhanger that left me anticipating the next chapter. I do recommend you play the first game as well, however, but that is also worth the price.