Established in 2004 and previously known as 'Phoenix Freeware Online', Phoenix Online Studios began as a fan group of King's Quest fans coming together to create an unofficial sequel to the series.
Their first project, The Silver Lining, got the attention from publications such as PC Gamer, Computer Gaming World, GameInformer, Edge Magazine, GamesTM, Kotaku, Mtv News and Joystiq. Today, we've been granted an IP license by Activision to publish all 5 episodes free to play.
Phoenix Online Studios is currently working on their first commercial endeavors - Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, recently released Episode 1 last October, and Episode 2 is about to be released Jan 30th, 2013. The game follows a Boston FBI agent, who lost her brother years ago to a serial killer who was never caught. With post-cognition abilities, Erica Reed is able to see the past of the objects just by touching it, adding a twist in this paranormal adventure game.
More information about Phoenix Online Studios or any of our projects can be found at www.postudios.com
The End Begins. In just two weeks, Erica Reed’s investigation will come to an end and all your burning questions will be answered: What happened to John? Where is Cordelia? Will Erica catch the Cain Killer at last — and when she does, will she choose justice or revenge?
On the 19th, not only will the final episode launch on the Phoenix Store and other online retailers, the full season will be available at both Steam and GOG as well! And in case that isn’t exciting enough, we’re having another livestream launch party on our YouTube channel on September 19th at 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT featuring live Q&A with the directors, giveaways, and not one but two special guests: Amy K. Browne, the voice of Cordelia Smith, and the one and only Jane Jensen! Join us to hear more about the behind the scenes of Cognition, ask about our other projects, and hear what’s ahead for Phoenix Online Studios.
Don’t worry, the title isn’t a spoiler. The first five minutes of the game shows our anti-hero Jack del Nero get shot, at which point we flash back 24 hours and see just what kind of trouble he got into that led to this untimely demise. This is also a two-part game, so who knows what really happens? Also I just wanted a witty title, okay?!
Anyway, Face Noir is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Italian indie studio Mad Orange. The game centers around Jack del Nero, a former police detective turned private eye. Jack’s story takes place in 1934’s Harlem, a large neighborhood in north New York City known for being the center of the Harlem Renaissance just a few years prior. The great depression is in full-force and times are tough for everyone. Add some rain and a touch of jazz, and you’ve got the makings of a great noir setting.
What else makes for a great life? Ah, the people! There’s plenty of wonderful characters that you’ll encounter in Face Noir. We’ve got Greta - who seems to be your only friend - sighing heavily and dreaming of her dancing past as she pours shots for people she doesn’t like or who won’t pay. You’ve got your Russian landlord Slovanski who’s interests include money and harrassing his tenants about rent (so, money). An angry ex-boss who wants to see you imprisoned for life, a Chinese cab driver who tawks wike dis and wies to you a wot, and a little girl left in your care by your traitorous ex-partner who just got murdered… these are just some of the colorful character’s you’ll encounter on the dark streets of Harlem.
Speaking of that “ex-partner murdered” bit, that is the key plot element that gets the game going after you perform the tutorial/job the game opens with. After returning home from the job you receive a phone call from your ex-partner telling you to meet him at the docks. When you arrive, the guy is dead and you’re being accused of the murder. This sets off a series of events that turn your mundane day-to-day life in the great depression into a race to clear your name and find the truth behind the ever increasing web of darkness that has been silently entangling itself around your life over these past few years, guiding you toward this very moment.
The game is played entirely with a mouse (and your thinking cap, of course). Everything from talking to people to picking locks to operating cranes is done with the mouse. This might pose a slight problem during some of the puzzles for players who use a trackpad on a laptop, but thankfully some of these puzzles can be skipped. You have an inventory system which you will use to select items from to interact with the environment in different ways, like using cash on a person to get them to spill the beans about someone. If you’re finding yourself having to go “pixel hunting”, there’s a feature that will highlight the spots on the screen where something of interest can be found. Cycling between simply looking at something and perhaps interacting with it is as simple as clicking your right-mouse button. Whatever appropriate action can be taken will be displayed by the icon that appears, such as the gear icon that means you can fiddle with the item somehow.
As mentioned, there are puzzles you can interact with directly (and some items that aren’t necessarily puzzles but you still interact with them in a personal way). Actions such as picking locks, placing fuses on a power circuit or assembling a doll all take place in real-time as you use your mouse to manipulate the objects yourself. Other interactions exist that aren’t puzzles but still allow your precise input, such as opening up a control panel and flipping a switch, or turning the dial on a radio.
From the moment the intro movie began playing I could tell I was going to have a lot of fun with this game. The dark noir setting is great and the protagonist Jack del Nero is as loveable as he is miserable. The artwork is simply astounding. I often found myself staring at a scene, admiring how well everything was drawn, how detailed it all was. The jazzy music is superb and really brings the story to life. The gameplay mechanics are very intuitive and never get in the way of your progress. The puzzles are clever, though at times some of the interactions seem to require pinpoint precision which can be a little frustrating. Overall the experience is a must for fans of the noir genre, adventure game fans or anyone who likes a dark story.
Social Media Intern
Phoenix Online Studios
With the final episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed thriller getting nearer and nearer we thought it would be a good idea to take a small refresher course on some of Cognition’s characters. Who are they? What do they do? Will this article be spoiler-free? The answer all these questions is a resounding “Yes”… okay actually it only answers the third question, anyway, here’s some entirely spoiler-free character profiles.
Erica Reed: Boston FBI agent with cognitive abilities.
She’s haunted by the loss of her brother to the Cain Killer. Secretly she hopes every case she’s on leads her closer to her brother’s murderer, her motivations walk a fine line of duty and vengeance.
Scott Reed: Erica’s younger brother.
Three years ago he was kidnaped and murdered by the mysterious Cain Killer. Erica blames herself for this.
Brian Reed: Erica’s father, retired FBI agent.
He still mourns the loss of his son. He helps Erica with tips, hints or moral support, he’s also the game’s hint system. He’s so good in fact that he could probably solve the whole case while staying at home watching TV! Wish I knew his number.
John McCoy: Erica’s partner, laid-back and easy going.
He was once a respected agent but slowly lost the drive and passion for his job. Often mocked by other agents for his superstitious beliefs. He’s one of the more likeable characters in the series, a shame he spends most of his time in the office.
Terence: Boston office FBI’s go-to tech-guy.
He’s known Erica since college, geeky and with a good sense of humor he’ll always be there for Erica when she needs help. Terrence always struck me as the sort of guy who’d his downtime trolling people on YouTube, yep, he’s the reason you don’t read YouTube comments.
Jared ‘Sully’ Sullivan: FBI Detective
Erica’s ex-boyfriendThings between him and Erica are ‘complicated’ but he’ll still help her whenever possible. Poor Sully, he spends half of episode 1 asking Erica out for lunch, will he ever get lucky?
Director Davies: The head of the Boston FBI department
A close friend of the Reed family, but that doesn’t mean she treats Erica any different than she would another agent. She was also Sam MacAdams’ partner before both were promoted.
Dr. Gallagher: The Boston offices’ coroner.
A loner with no sense of humor only cares for her cats. Sounds like a real cuddly person, doesn’t she?
Rose: Runs the antique shop
She’ll often have an item for you or can help you learn more about a mysterious piece of evidence. Deeply in tune with the spiritual side of things, she taught Erica how to use her partners. She likes being called ‘mamma Rose’ for some reason, creepy!
Cordelia Smith: Citizen
Often found in Mt. Auburn Cemetery mourning her brother, she’ll often have a kind word for Erica, feeling they share at least one common trait.
Cain Killer: Serial Killer, whereabouts unknown
A serial killer who would kidnap siblings and place them in elaborate death traps. His last victim was Scott Reed before mysteriously disappearing.
The Hangman: Serial Killer, whereabouts unknown
A mysterious serial killer who hangs his victims, making all of crimes look like suicide. Only targets women
The Oracle: No information
Who is the oracle? What does he/she want?
Samuel MacAdams: The new Director for the Boston FBI
He was Davies’ ex-partner and if you thought she was a hard then get ready, he’s even worse! He’s also never been in a beer commercial, pretty surprising considering his name.
The Wise Monkey: Serial Killer, whereabouts unknown
A mysterious serial killer who removes his victims’ eyes, ears and tongues. All of his/her targets were musically inclined.
Skorobeus: The Smith’s family lawyer.
Snooty, conceited oh and he thinks he’s better than you, have we mentioned that? With a name like that you’d think he’d create a hair metal band!
So, all refreshed? Do you know who’s who? More importantly, how will the story draw to a close in Episode 4? Personally I say the butler did it! It’s always the butler!
Social Media Intern
Phoenix Online Studios
Last week we released the very first #FindNoir image and we got tons of replies, so thank you everyone who particpated so far on this. Today, we’ve got the few ones that got ALL 5 right answers - the right answers were: Zombie Survival Guide book, Moebius wallpaper, black cat, muffins plate and rubber chicken. And the lucky winners are: Chris Ramion, Stefan Kellendonk, Eric Starker and Abel Garcia!
So after doing a very complicated and long analytical process of who may welcome positive karma and all that stuff into their lives (look at the serious documented process below) and now we have our winner!
CONGRATULATIONS ERIC! I will be contacting you today for this :)
Want to get free stuff!? Then participate! Here’s this week #FindNoir - Enjoy and good luck!
Phoenix Online Studios
Developed by Mad Orange and inspired by the writing of Raymond Chandler, Face Noir is a point-and-click adventure set in New York City, 1934. A disillusioned private detective named Jack del Nero is charged with the murder of a man who, just before his death, left a little girl in Jack’s protection. As Jack tries to find out who the child is, he learns the extremes to which human nature can go when trying to bribe something no one has ever tried to bribe: destiny.
We teased you about it, you’ve been waiting for it and the game is almost here, but until then, you can sink your teeth into the newly released Demo!
Play as detective Jack Del Nero and explore a depression hit 1930’s Harlem, as you track down a wannabe big time actress for a possible any affair.
It’s not Jack’s highest career point, but in these dark, depressing times, 30 dollars can save you from spending the next few days at a soup kitchen.