Cognition: Episode One iOS review: CSI meets The Walking Dead

Episodic investigation entertains on iPad

After the colossal success of The Walking Dead series one, the world has rediscovered its appetite for point-and-click style adventures. Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller has made the step from PC to iPad in an attempt to sate our post-Lee/Clem hunger, and despite a few technical hiccups this first episode does a decent job.

Nice art style. Shame her in-game character model looks like a 'love doll'.

The game follows psychic detective (yeah, it's one of those games) Erica Reed as she pursues a killer with her partner John. It starts with a flashback to the day Erica lost her brother, and this stage serves as the game's tutorial. And it's a tough start.

While controls are relatively simple - touch certain objects on the screen to walk up to, and interact with - the hardest thing to understand is how the game wants to be played. You need to get a grasp of its internal logic. Early on there's a puzzle where you need to use a spade to dig up a patch of loose earth. Simple, right? Select 'spade', tap on 'loose earth'. Wrong. Erica gets psychic flashes from the dirt, and refuses to dig. Okaaaaay...

The solution comes when you ask your partner to dig for you. It's a strange piece of logic, but it does teach you about how the creators of the game think. Get past this prologue and you're well placed to enjoy the rest of the episode.

The hand-painted style gives the game a neat pulp comic feel, the script isn't afraid to drop a few 'F bombs', and the murders are pleasingly grizzly - this is a very adult game. Sure, some of the dialogue is so wooden you'll want to check your iPad for splinters, and the character animations make them look like boneless bags of meat whenever they walk, but we're willing to forgive the rough edges to enjoy the in-depth investigation.

An antique shop run by a clairvoyant? How... original

There's always plenty to see and do, and chatting to characters reveals little nuggets of background information that fleshes out the mythology. This is episode one of a four-part thriller, and there's several hours of game here to get you hooked into the story. Some of it feels flabby, but anyone keen on the plot will love digging into the details.

We're hoping that later episodes change the interface to be more touch-screen friendly (at the moment this feels like a straight port, so everything is geared towards mouse-use), but overall this is decent value for £2.49. Rough, perhaps, but the start of a decent yarn.

The verdict

The start of a decent point and click saga, tarnished by a sloppy PC / iOS conversion and some poor dialogue.

  • Decent detective story
  • Plenty of content in this first episode
  • Art style looks great in parts...
  • ...but hideous in others
  • Some wooden dialogue
  • Too slow-paced in parts