Readers’ Choice: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller (Full game all 4 episodes)

“We can hardly disagree with your selection for Best Music, since we made the same choice ourselves last year after the initial Cognition episode. Between the wonderful score composed by Austin Haynes and the haunting closing credits song by Erica Reed voice actor Raleigh Holmes, the soundtrack is a superb musical complement to a powerfully dramatic story, and a deserving award winner any year.”

Runners-Up: The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, BEYOND: Two Souls, Face Noir, The Night of the Rabbit

Best Music: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode One: The Hangman

“The first episode of Phoenix Online’s new episodic paranormal mystery Cognition is soaked with gloomy style. It is a game that has many different emotional gears: On the trail of a serial killer, Erica Reed finds herself performing a normal FBI investigation around the city of Boston, but she’ll also spend time in thoughtful conversations with a grieving family member at the cemetery, as well as experiencing very intense moments of jeopardy with an evil murderer close at hand. These narrative highs and lows would have had much more trouble resonating with players if they were not framed with an appropriately atmospheric soundtrack, but the brilliant score by Austin Haynes consistently hits just the right notes at all times.

Cognition’s music is soft and reflective when it needs to be, moody and ambient when circumstances dictate, and jarringly intense at the game’s darkest and most dramatic moments. During scenes when audio should be less prominent, the mood is kept light and unobtrusive, but the soundtrack is always a benefit to the events playing out on screen, which is a very impressive feat for an indie endeavour. The composer’s work on The Silver Lining was notably one of that game’s strengths as well, and Phoenix Online clearly made the right choice by once again putting their music into his hands, as Cognition proved itself a deserving winner of our Best Music Aggie for 2012 over some very tough competition.”

Runners-Up: The Walking Dead, Journey, Botanicula, The Journey Down: Chapter One

Readers’ Choice: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode One: The Hangman

“If you’ve never played The Silver Lining, you may not be familiar with the work of Austin Haynes. But even if you have, it was no sure thing that Haynes could jump from the fantastical adventures in Daventry to a dark, disturbing serial murder thriller. But the self-proclaimed “composer for the imagination” did just that with Cognition, delivering a top-notch score that evoked all the right moods at just the right times. We clearly all hope to hear more from him in future, in more ways than one.”

Runners-Up: Botanicula, The Walking Dead, Deponia (series), Journey

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller was nominated in 2014 for music I composed under “Original Dramatic Music, New IP Category from The National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers.

“The music is universally stellar: Austin Haynes has outdone his work on The Silver Lining here, and Cognition’s soundtrack is lavishly produced and full of haunting melodies and memorable themes. A great deal of the dramatic weight in the story is shouldered by Haynes’ score, and it handles the burden with gusto.”

“Touch me tender with those notes you play. The drama and tension is also achieved with the music which is simply fantastic. Like a suspenseful thriller the score reinforce the impact of the violence and get the player involved in the action scenes (of which there are quite a few and some are pretty bloody) and touches in ways only low piano and acoustic guitar tunes can capture the mood.”

“Of course, Cognition’s strengths remain on display as well. The background art is outstanding, especially with the moody drabness required for the game’s nighttime framework. The interface remains clean and peerlessly simple to operate. And in a game that runs on as much emotional fuel as this episode does, I’m almost out of adjectives for Austin Haynes’s wonderful soundtrack, so perfectly framing every sequence with every emotional range, from thoughtful longing to dark desperation. It is the type of original game soundtrack that every genre should be taking notice of.”

“Sonically,  Austin Haynes’ soundtrack is one of the best components of the package, delivering a number of key motifs which complement the on-screen adventure splendidly.”

“A highlight of the presentation can be found again in music. Exciting times, sometimes creepy, but always at a high level, it is therefore not surprising that the upcoming soundtrack album will be sold separately.”

“The soundtrack (The Silver Lining) is beautiful. The music seemed to match the scene and the feeling each time it started to play.”