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Game Info:

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller
Developed by: Phoenix Online Studios
Published by: Phoenix Online Studios
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Available on: PC, Mac
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Adventure
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $29.99 

Thank you Phoenix Online Studios for sending us this game to review!

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller was successfully Kickstarted in December of 2011. The first episode, The Hangman, was released almost a year later.  The following three episodes were released a few months apart with the final one, The Cain Killer, arriving on September 19th, 2013.   

Cognition is comic book style 3D adventure game.  The heroine is an FBI agent named Erica Reed who is thorough in her investigations, even if it means breaking a few rules.  Needless to say, she doesn't have a great relationship with her superiors.  Erica is still at her job because she is a good agent, but she still carries some emotional baggage from her brother's murder. She wants his killer found and dealt with before anyone else becomes a victim.

Throughout the game Erica investigates a few murder scenes and deals with multiple serial killers, but they are all tied together somehow. Like most adventure games you can click on and examine or take objects to manipulate them.  Between examining the evidence and using her psychic powers, Erica finds that the killer is leaving messages specifically for her.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent storytelling and character development; good soundtrack
Weak Points: Some graphical glitches were present
Moral Warnings: Graphic violence; Strong language; Psychic powers; Same-sex kissing

In the beginning Erica doesn't understand the visions that she received.  Although skeptical at first, she seeks guidance from an antique shop owner who teaches her how to use her psychic powers.  Throughout the four episodes, Erica will learn how to use cognition, projection, regression, and synergy. Erica can see the past by focusing on energy left on various items and can reconstruct murder scenes by combining related items.  Erica also learns how to access people's memories and restore them.  

Besides the many psychic references, this game has intense and graphic violence.  One of the serial killers cuts off the eyes, ears, and tongues from their victims. It should come as no surprise that Erica has to use her powers to figure out who these organs once belonged to.  The language is pretty bad in this game and every word in the book is used and God's name is blasphemed numerous times.  While Erica does have a boyfriend (sort-of), she is kissed by another female later in the game.  

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 17%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 3/10
Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10

I beat this game in thirteen hours and earned 37 of the 53 Steam achievements available.  While I did enjoy the story, voice acting and music, I'm happy with my choices and don't want to play it again to get all of the achievements.  Each episode has its own save files so it wouldn't take too long to earn all of them if desired. 

Some of the Kickstarter backers received the soundtrack which is very good.  For everyone else, it's available on iTunes for $9.99. 

I like the comic book art style.  A majority of the game is in 3D but some story sequences are are done in a 2D story board style.  Some of the 3D character animations had some glitches where the characters were incomplete, walking on air, or facing the wrong way when talking to someone.

Despite its technical and moral flaws, Cognition tells a great story and is bound to be enjoyed by adventure game lovers.  Because of the intense language, violence and occult references I can only recommend this game to mature gamers.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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